“Eeehh, What did you say?”


Emergent Literacy Design

By: Ann Mathews 


In order for a child to become a fluent reader, the first step that he or she must take it to understand that letters represent phonemes.  Phonemes are defined as the vocal gestures that the child hears.  The second step is to understand that the spelling of words is mapped out by the sequence of phonemes in spoken words.  As children begin to recognize phonemes, the development of reading for the child becomes evident.  The following lesson will help the children to learn how to recognize the e = /e/ sound in spoken words by making a connection between that sound and an action.  The students will also work on learning how to write the letter e, as well as recognize /e/ in spoken words.



  1. Introduce the lesson by asking, How many of you have grandparents or parents that sometimes have trouble hearing what you say?  I will then ask them, how do they usually respond to your question?  I would expect some of the responses to be /e/, what did you say?, or can you repeat that?  I will then explain to the students that we are going to be working on recognizing /e/ in spoken words.  I will then model and have them repeat, /e/.  I will explain to the students that this time when we say /e/, tug on your ear like I am doing and say /e/.  Then I will give each child the piece of paper with the man tugging on his ear.  If there is a child that will not tug on his or her ear then have them hold their piece of paper up when they hear the /e/ sound throughout the lesson.
  2. I will then explain to the children that /e/ is found in many words.  I will ask the students, Can you think of any words that have the /e/ sound in it?  I will allow a few seconds for the children to come up with their own responses.  I will then give some example words with the /e/ sound, for example, red, hen, and bet.  After modeling each of the words I will ask if they hear the /e/.  I will then say, Now I am going to say several words to you.  When you hear a word with the /e/ sound I want you to tug on your ear.  I will stress to only tug on your ear when you hear that particular sound.  Example words: egg, head, sat, cat, and ten.
  3. I will then show the students a poster with the tongue twister, Ellie and Eddie saw Ellen and the Elephant on the Easter Egg Hunt.  I will then tell the children that I want them to practice saying the tongue twister with me.  I will then say, Now that we can read the tongue twister with the /e/ sound, let’s tug on our ear as we are dragging out the /e/.  Let’s say it like, EEEllie and EEEddie saw EEEllen and the EEElephant on the Easter EEEgg Hunt.   I will model this activity with the children at first, and then watch them as we read the tongue twister to see if they are grasping it.
  4. .I will say to the children, Now that we know that the letter e makes the /e/ sound let’s practice writing it so that when you are reading you will be able to recognize it.  I am going to have a piece of chart paper with the lines on it just as their piece of primary paper does.  I will begin by reviewing the names of the different lines on the paper.  I would then say, To begin you need to get in the center of the space below the fence, go toward the door, up to touch the fence, around and up.  I would model this on my piece of paper several times having the children just watching me.  Then I would have them do it with me.  I will tell the children to now write 7 more e’s.  While they are working on this I will walk around to make sure that the children are able to do this.
  5. I will then read the book, Red Gets Fed to the children.  I will say to the children: Listen as I read the book, Red Gets Fed, and each time you hear the /e/ sound I want you to tug on your ear.  The teacher should read the book very slowly and enunciating well so that the students can hear her as she reads.
  6. To assess the students, hand each of them a worksheet with various pictures on it.  The students will say what the picture is out loud and will draw a circle around the pictures that have the /e/ sound in them.  It is important that the pictures are obvious, so that the students will not be confused as miss the question.  The worksheet would include pictures of these words: an egg, a bed, a pencil, a bell, a nest, a net, an apple, a fish, and a hand.

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