Ella Elephant Says "Ehhhh?"

By: Joanna Holcomb

Beginning Reader

Rationale: In order to become skilled readers, children must be able to recognize phonemes. Short vowels are commonly difficult for children to identify in spoken and written words, so it is important to teach these vowel sounds thoroughly. This specific lesson will teach the short e sound so that students will be able to read, write, and identify /e/ in spoken and written words by using the letterbox lesson technique and writing on their primary paper.



-picture of old man saying "Ehhhh?"

-flash cards with /e/ words including: egg, met, rest, wed, send, vet, tent, slept, bed, den, get, blend

-flash cards with other short vowel sounds including: bat, man, sick, pig, got, pup (if student has learned these sounds previously)

-one copy of "Pen Pals" for each student

-primary paper and pencils for each student

-letterboxes and letters (e, g (x2), m, t (x2), r, s, w, d, n, v, l, p, b, d, g)

-poster with tongue tickler: "The elephants met the vet in an elevator."



1. I will begin by telling students that each letter in the alphabet has their own sound. Some letters have more than one sound. I will then explain that the vowel we will be working with is /e/. "We know that this is one of the letters that have more than one sound, but today we will be saying "Ehhhhh" like this old man." [hold up picture of old man saying "Ehhhh?"] Children will then have an action to go along with the sound as we read later in the lesson (holding hand behind the ear).

2. I will then hold up the tongue tickler poster and read it once to the class. Then I will have everyone say it all together once and then read it again and make the hand motion we have learned every time we hear the /e/ sound. "The eeeeeeelephants meeeeeet the veeeeeeet in an eeeeeelevator. Great job!"

3. We will then work on how to write out the letter e. Each student will use their pencil and primary paper to write the letter once all together. I will tell them to "start at the fence, make a straight line, curve up and make a semi circle over the fence, and come back around to touch the sidewalk, then bring it a little above the sidewalk to a point." After I check to see each student's letter, they will make a line of five more e's on their primary paper.

4. I will then holdup cards that have words with the /e/ sound and some that do not. I will have students sound out each word aloud and drag out the /e/ sound if they hear it in the word I am currently holding up. For example, if I held up "met", we would say, "meeeeeeeet. Yes! That has our sound in it. Now let's try bat. Baaaaaat. Nope, that does not have the sound we are looking for." This will continue through the group of word cards.

5. We will then do a letterbox lesson. I will model the letterbox lesson for them, then have them spell out different words with the /e/ sound in them. I will make sure to tell them how many letterboxes they should have laid out. After spelling out all the words, students will read a list of the words they just spelled.

6. Then, we will read Pen Pals and make sure to point out all the words we hear with the /e/ sound. I will begin with a book talk by saying, "Ben is playing in his play pen. His cat tries to get in while Ben is trying to get out. What will happen? Will Ben ever get out of his pen? We will have to read to find out!" As we read through the book, they will be asked to do the /e/ sound hand motion any time they hear our special sound.

7. Finally, we will do a worksheet where students will be asked to circle and color each image that has the /e/ sound in its name. This will be a quick assessment to see if students have grasped the sound.


References: Ellie the Elephant by Kimberly Craig (http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/adventures/craigbr.htm)

"Pen Pals" (Educational Insights, 1990)

Worksheet: http://www.eslprintables.com/previewprintables/2010/sep/20/thumb9202319504745.jpg

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