Eddie the Eskimo and His Elephant

Beginning Reading

Ashley Jacobs



In order for students to read fluently, as well as write words, they must have an understanding that letters represent phonemes.  Phonemes are vocal gestures that are found in spoken words.  In this lesson, the correspondence e=/e/ is taught.  The students should understand that the letter e represents the vocal gesture of /e/ in many commonly used words.  The students will hear words that contain /e/, as well as see words that have e throughout this lesson.  /e/ will become memorable to the students by using a hand gesture and a picture.  A tongue twister will also be used.  The students will also spell words containing /e/ using Letterboxes, and will later read these words.  The students will then read a decodable book filled with words containing /e/.



Red Gets Fed (Educational Insights 1990)-copy for each student; white board; white board marker; Picture of person cupping their hand behind their ear; Letterboxes for every student, Large Letterbox for the teacher, letters p, e, t, r, d, c, a, b, n, w, l (2), s, m, h for each of the students for the letterboxes, large letters f, l, a, t for the teacher for the large letterbox, Worksheet that has pictures of objects whose name has /e/ in them (pen, elephant, men, exit sign, bed) and a list of words beside each picture, pencils, crayons



1)     "Today we are going to learn about the sound that the letter e makes.  Lots of words that we read have the letter e in them, so it is very important that we learn about the sound this letter makes so that we can read and write these words.  The letter e says /e/.  Everyone say /e/ with me.  Great!" 

2)     "Before we go on, let's remember how we should write the letters e."  Write e on the white board (make lines on the board to look like primary paper) while saying the following: "To make a little e, you should get in the center of the space below the fence, go toward the door (right), up to touch the fence, then around and up like you are making a little c."

3)     "Now that we remember how to make the letter e, we need to work on how to remember /e/.  Here I have a picture of a person cupping their hand behind their ear.  Have you ever seen someone do this before?  Why would someone do that?  That's right!  Someone usually does that when they can't hear what you are saying.  When someone can't hear what you are saying, they also sometimes make the sound /e/ to mean "What did you say?"  Well, putting your hand behind your ear will help you remember /e/.  Can I see everyone pretend that they can't hear what I'm saying and put their hand behind their ear and say /e/?  Good job!" 

4)     "Let's practice putting our hands behind our ears when we hear /e/.  I'm going to read a sentence to you and every time you hear /e/, I want you to put your hand behind your ear.  Ready?"  Read following sentence at a slow pace allowing the students to have time to put their hands behind their ears.  "Eddie the Eskimo has a pet elephant that just entered the elevator.  Oh, you did a great job of noticing that the word pet has /e/ in it even though it's not at the beginning of the word, it's in the middle."

5)     "Now it's your turn to say the e sentence with me.  Make sure you remember to put your hand behind your ear when you say /e/."  Say the sentence with the students twice.

6)     "Now we are going to say the same sentence again, but we're going to do it a little differently this time.  When you say a word that has e in it, I want you to stretch out /e/ when you say it.  For example, if the word I wanted to say was everybody, I would say, 'eeeeeverybody.'  Let's try saying the e sentence doing it this way."  Say the sentence with the students twice.

7)     "Now, everyone look at the white board.  I have lots of different words written up here.  I'm going to read two of them to you, and I want you to tell me which one has /e/ in it.  Remember to put your hand behind your ear when you say the word that has /e/ in it."  The following words will be written on the board: shelf and splash; desk and chair; loud and yell; mends and mounds; paper and pencil.

8)     "Now we are going to practice spelling and reading words that have /e/ in them, but be careful because I may try and trick you.  Everyone get out your letterboxes and I am going to pass out the letters you will need.  Now everyone look up here at my big letterbox.  If I was given the word flat, I would say the word slowly to find out that there are four sounds in the word flat, /f/ /l/ /a/ /t/.  First I hear /f/.  Oh, that's the letter f so I'm going to put a f in my first box.  /fl/ /l/ Oh that's an l, it should go in my second box.  /fla/ /a/ Oh now I hear a crying baby saying /a/ so that's an a that goes in the third box.  /f/ /l/ /a/ /t/.  /t/ that's a t for the last box.  f-l-a-t.  That says flat."  The students will then spell the following words with their letterboxes: 3 phonemes (pet, red, cab, end, well) 4 phonemes (send, last, smell, chest) 5 phonemes (spent).  I will go around the room and check on students' progress.  I will then write each of these words on the whiteboard along with the word fret.  "Everyone look at the board.  We are now going to read the words that we just spelled."  Point to the word fret on the board.  "If I wanted to read this word, I would first find the vowel.  That's e.  It says /e/.  Then I would look at the letters in front of the e.  /f/ /fr/ /fre/.  Then I would look at the last letter.  /t/.  /fre/ /t/. Oh, fret!  Now it's your turn to read these other words." 

9)     "I have this book called Red Gets Fed.  It's about a dog named Red.  He is very hungry.  Red wants someone to feed him so he goes and tries to wake up Meg and her dad.  You'll have to read to find out if Red can wake anyone up so he can get some food." Give each of the students the book Red Gets Fed to read individually.  I will walk around the room to monitor students' reading, as well as scaffold the students' reading when needed. 

10)     Individual assessment:  Give the students a worksheet that has pictures of words whose name has /e/ in them.  Beside each picture is a list of words.  One of the words is the name of the picture.  The students must read each of the words in the list to determine which word represents the picture.  The students should then write that word below the picture. 



Cushman, S. Red Gets Fed (1990). Carson, California: Educational Insights.

Davis, Haley. (2006). Red Gets Fed. A beginning reading design. Auburn University

Reading Genie Website: retrieved October 19, 2007. http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/invent/davisbr.html

Murray, B.A., & Lesniak, T. (1999). The Letterbox Lesson: A hands-on approach for

teaching decoding. The Reading Teacher, 52, 644-650.

Picture of hand behind ear. Retrieved November 6, 2007.



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