Eh… What Did You Say?


what did you say


Emergent Literacy Design

Casey Tidwell


To become readers children must understand the concept of our alphabet. An understanding of the alphabet entails knowledge that letters are representations of phonemes and the spelling of a word maps out the phonemes from oral language. Before children can understand the correlation between phonemes in spoken works and their corresponding letters or mappings the student must first be able to recognize phonemes in their oral contexts. Short vowels, which do not carry the letter names, are some of the most difficult phonemes for students to identify. My lesson will address the short vowel e. The students will be able to identify /e/ in spoken words. A correlating letter symbol and several meaningful representations, and practice finding the /e/ in its spoken environment will facilitate this knowledge.


<> Procedures:

1.       Introduce the lesson by explaining that our written language is a secret code and in order to crack the code we need to learn what letter stands for the mouth moves we make when we speak. Today we are going to look for the mouth move /e/. /e/ is found in many words but sometimes it's difficult to find. As we practice we will become experts at spotting /e/ in a lot of different words.

2.     Ask the students: Have you ever heard anyone go /e/ (make the "What did you say?" motion by cupping your hand around your ear) due to the fact that they could not hear something? We are looking for this particular mouth move in the words we will look at today. Let's practice! Turn toward you neighbor and act like you can't hear them and go /e/. Now let's try spotting /e/ in a word. We'll use the word red. You have to stretch the word out as you say it. Re-e-e-e-ed. Try it with me: re-e-e-ed. Did you hear the /e/ in the middle of the word?

3.     Let's try a tongue twister: From the chart read "Ed the elephant saw Eddie the Eskimo enter the elevator." Everybody say it three times together. Let's say it again, but this time stretch the /e/ at the beginning of the word. Eeeed the eeelephant saw Eeeeddie the eeeeskimo eeeenter the eeeelevator. This time try to break it off the word. /e/ d the /e/ lephant saw /e/ ddie the /e/ skimo /e/ nter the /e/ levator.

4.     Have students take out their primary paper and a pencil. Tell them that we can use the letter e to spell the mouth move /e/. The letter e is close to the letter c. To write an e we will draw a line in the knee area then just like c we will ride the broken roller coaster around the loop. Model this for the class. Have everyone practice writing an e on their paper. Tell them that you want to see all their wonderful e's. Tell them you want them to make nine more just like it. Be sure to remind the students that when they see the letter e all by itself in a word that is their signal to say /e/.

5.     Spotting the mouth move: Call on students to choose the word where they hear /e/ and ask them to explain how they knew which word to choose. Do you hear /e/ Leg or arm? Tell or ask? Jed or Bill? Too or get? Now let's see if you can spot the mouth move in our Elephant Ed sentences. If you hear /e/ in a word make the "What did you say?" motion. Read the entire sentence then give words one by one. Elephant Ed says:  Nell is swell because she can spell. Elephant Ed says: Jed’s head is red, so he went to bed.

6.     Read Peg the Hen and discuss the story. Re-read it again slowly and have students do the "What did you say?" motion when they hear words with the /e/ sound. List the words on the board. When finished reading review them. Give each student a large sheet of paper and have him or her illustrate his or her favorite, funniest part of the story and write about it using invented spelling. You can have the students share their work with the entire class by displaying it on the wall.

<> Assessment:

Give the children a page with pictures and identify each picture. Ask the students to write the letter e below the pictures whose name contain /e/.



Ehhh? I Can’t Hear You. Emergent Literacy Design. Carrie Sluder. Summer 2004.

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