Rebecca Lee Branum
Beginning Reading

The Big E!

Rationale:  For children to comprehend what they are reading they must become fluent readers.  In order for a child to become a fluent reader, he/she must learn to decode many different correspondences.  This lesson is designed to teach children the correspondence ea=/E/.  Students will learn to associate ea with the long e sound, after seeing it in written text, individually (notecards and picture cards), and listening for the sound /E/ that it makes.  Students can then recognize ea in written words and read the word using the long e sound.

Materials: 4 by 6 word cards(eat,dean, steal, ease); picture/word cards (bean, meal, meat, lead, cream, steam); Sheep Out to Eat by Nancy Shaw; tagboard; markers and crayons; primary paper; pencils; glue sticks; 3 book rings; text from Sheep Out to Eat in large print.


1. I will begin by telling my students that some words hold secret codes.  The words we will be seeing today have this secret hidden code:  when you see the letter with an a following right behind it (write the e on the board and then add the a) you will also hear the sound /E/, which you all know is the sound long e makes.  The a following right behind the e is the new code ea=/E/.
2. Now model for the students how you recognize the secret code in a written word by holding up a 4 by 6 notecard with the word EAT written on it.  Now students I am going to look at this word and instantly recognize our secret code, there is an a directly behind the e.  Then I am going to complete the rest of the word /ea/ /t/.  I will continue modeling these words: bean  steal  cream  mean .  In these words I recognize that e says its name because of that secret code I have been telling you about.  Now you will recognize it too!
3. Now have picture cards with a picture of something on the front and the word matching the picture on the back.  Ask students to name the picture listen for the sound ea makes, /E/, if they hear it they should say /E./ and if not they should be very silent.  Then I will flip the card over to the word side and if they see the ea they should again say /E/ , but if not, they should be silent.
4. Read the story Sheep Out to Eat by Nancy Shaw to students and talk about the story.  Explain to them that ea isnt the only secret code for the /E/ sound, but that they will learn the other secret codes sometime very soon.  Tell your students to listen for the /E/ and to look for the secret code as you, the teacher, reads.
5. Immediately after reading the story ask students to take out their primary paper and pencils and write any words they remember from the story containing the new secret code ea=/E/.  Before writing these words they can pratice the lower case e and lower case a on the first two lines.
6. Provide a pair of students with a piece of tagboard.  Also provide each pair with a page of reprinted text (very big letters) to glue at the bottom of their tagboard.  Explain that as a class you are going to make your own BIG BOOK copy of Sheep Out to Eat.  The pair will illustrate the page of the story for the text given to them.  They will then underline any words in the text containing the secret code ea=/E/ and circle any words, including the ea words that make the sound /E/.
7. For assessment, take the big book pages that contain text revealing the secret code ea=/E/.  Individually ask student to find the word (s) containing our new secret code and the read the word aloud.  (Most ea words in this text are simple).

Sheep Out to Eat, Houghton Mifflin, 1992, Nancy Shaw

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