Jill Blair
Beginning Reading

Excellent Elephants

Rationale:  This lesson will help beginning readers to learn to spell and read words.  They will learn to recognize e=/e/ in written and spoken words.  They will learn a meaningful representation and practice spelling and reading words with e=/e/ using a letterbox lesson.  Also, they will read along with the class and finally be assessed.

Materials:  Chalkboard, Primary writing paper, pencils, markers, many copies of the book Pen Pals (Dr. Murray's room), list of letterbox words: 3 phoneme-bed, pet, yes, web, den; 4 phoneme-send, nest, desk, felt, Elkonin boxes with 3 and 4 boxes, and laminated letters.

1. First, review by saying, "This is the letter e.  It makes a sound like a door squeaking (eee…)."  Then introduce the correspondence e=/e/ by saying the meaningful representation "Excellent Elephants".  "Students repeat after me."  Have the students repeat "Excellent Elephants" several times.  "We will now learn how to spell and read words with /e/ in them."
2. Next, pass out the Elkonin boxes and laminated letters.  Model how to use them.  For every sound, a letter or letters are placed in a box.  "When I say a word, spell it in three boxes."  (bed, pet, yes, web, den)  "Now, when I say a word, spell it in four boxes."  (send, nest, desk, felt)  "We used three boxes because words like bed have three sounds b-e-d.  We used four boxes because words like desk have four sounds
3. Now, write one word on the board and ask the class, "what does this say?"  Let the students raise their hands if they know.  See if they do.  Go through all of the words like this.
4. Do a book talk for Pen Pals.  Then, let the students read the book.  Pass out the books so that each student has their own or shares with one other student.  "I would like for everyone to read this book once.  When you are finished, we will all do an activity."
5. After reading the book have each student respond to the story.  Let them look through the book and write down words that they found with /e/.  "Students write the words you find with /e/ on you paper.  When you finish you may draw a picture about the book."
6. Assessment:  As the students are finishing and drawing, go around to each student and assess what they have learned by using the letterboxes.  For each student let them spell a new word, and then read it.  "As you are working, I will call you up one at a time to see what you have learned."


Eldredge, J. Loyd.  Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms.  Prentice Hall, Inc.  New
Jersey, 1995.  Pp. 132.

Murray, B. A. & Leniak, T.  "Teaching Reading.  The letterbox lesson: A hands-on
approach for teaching decoding."  The Reading Teacher, Vol. 52, No. 6.  March 1999.

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