Kelly Starr ­ Beginning Reading

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††† †††††††††††††††††††††† Cheep, Cheep

Rationale:† Children use phonemes and mouth moves to learn about spoken language and how it relates to reading and writing.† As they learn more about phonemes, they break the alphabetic code.† Important phoneme-grapheme correspondences for children to recognize as they begin to read are long vowels.† In this activity, we will learn the ee = /E/ correspondence.† They will learn to recognize /E/ in spoken and written words through a group letterbox lesson and in reading a book.

Materials: Elkonin letterboxes; laminated letters ­ b, c, d, e, e, f, h, k, p, r, s, t, t, w; overhead projector, copy of What Do Seals Eat? (Educational Insights) poster of "Pete eats beets by the sea in the heat"; poster with list of words for letterboxes; bee, see, keep, feed, cheep, speed, sweep, street; chalkboard, chalk


1.Begin by telling the students, "When we are reading, we match the letters we see to their sounds.† We are breaking a code when we learn more and more sounds to match the letters.† I know that we all know the little e sound, but it makes a whole different sound when there are two little eís sitting right next to each other."

  1. "Open your mouth with me and cheep, cheep like a baby bird.† Good."
  2. "Now, I want you to listen for that same sound after me when we say this tongue twister.† "Pete eats beets by the sea in the heat."† Now, stretch out the /E/ sound with me when we say it together.† Peeete eeeeats beeeeets by the seeeeea in the heeeeat.† Very good ­ you can all stretch that /E/ sound out.
  3. "Now, we are going to use our letterboxes to spell out some words with the long E sound.† Our first word will only need two boxes.† Okay, bee.† Now, see.† Remember that the eís have to stick together.† Still in two boxes, see.† Okay, now three boxes ­ the first one is k, second one is ee, and the third one is p."† Do not go on to the next word until they have spelled them all in the correct boxes.† Continue with words all the way until "monster word" street.† If they struggle, cover up all letters but the two ee's and have them say them together in a box.† For example, for the word keep, cover up k and p, and they pronounce ee.† Then add p.† eep.† Then combine with the k to make keep.
  4. "Okay, I want us to read some of the words with the long E sound together.† I want you to read them as I place them in their letterboxes on the overhead.† The two e's need to stick together in a box to make the ee sound, they are a different sound than e when they are together.† Bee (2 boxes), see (2 boxes), keep (3 boxes), feed (3 boxes), cheep (3 boxes), speed (4 boxes), sweep (4 boxes), and "monster word" street (5 boxes).† Good, you read them all.
  5. "Now, letís read What Do Seals Eat?† What do you think this book is about?" What kind of things do you think a seal would eat?† Not what humans eat, right?† Letís read the book and find out."† Go through the pages of the book and preview the pages before they read.† "When I say a word that has the /E/ sound, I want you to cheep like a bird, but stop when you hear a word without the sound."† Read the book throughout and check for when the /E/ sound is cheeped.
Assessment:† Have the children read a copy of What Do Seals Eat? with a partner, and 'cheep' as they hear the sounds of long /E/.Then, ask the children as a class ­ "What do you hear /E/ in?† bee or fly?Speed or slow?† Tree or bush?† Sea or sand?" Make sure each student has his or her turn to recognize the sound.

Reference:† Murray, B.A. and Lesniak, T.† 199.The letterbox lesson: A hands-on approach for teaching decoding.† The Reading Teacher, 52, p. 644-650. Tina Hayles, "Tweet, Tweet"

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