Mysterious E:  Makes Space a Brave Place

 Beginning Reading
Lindsay Allen

Rationale:  Children with a good foundation of phonemic awareness need explicit and systematic phonics instruction in order to be able to read.  Beginning readers need to know that words are made of sounds.  They also need to know the correspondences between written letters and their phonemes.  Because vowels are the glue that holds every word together, it is usually best to begin teaching some vowels.  Short vowels are the easiest for children to understand because they are the most commonly found in words with systematic spelling patterns.  Once children have an understanding of short vowels, they are ready to move to long vowels.  In this lesson students will review a = /a/ and will learn that a_e = /A/.  Then students will practice spelling and reading words with a_e = /A/.


Materials:  Class set of Elkonin Boxes, class set of letter manipulatives, Island of Magic E board game (homemade from butcher paper and colors as explained in step 2), Overhead Elkonin Boxes and letter maipulatives, Class set of James and the Good Day by Sheila Cushman, Published by Educational Insights.  Worksheet with pictures of rat, rate, hat, hate, stare, star, tape, tap, fade, fad, mate, and mat.



1.  Introduce by saying, “Our written language is a secret code.  It is tricky to learn sometimes, but once we do we can read any message!”  The tricky part is learning what letters stand for.  Say, “We have already learned that a = /a/ when we talked about our Crying Baby Aaaaa sound.  We learned how to recognize the letter a in words and we learned how to move our mouths to say it’s sound.  Today we are going to talk about what sound to make if we see an a, then a consonant, then an e (writing a_e on the board as I explain).  This e at the end is very mysterious because it does not say /E/ or /e/, but it helps the a say /A/ instead of /a/.  When we see a_e we know the a says its name (/A/) and we say the sound just like Fonzie did on Happy Days, “Ayyyyyyy!” (with both thumbs up).  Notice you have to touch the middle of your tongue to the roof of your mouth as you say it.  Do you hear the sounds you are making?  Do you feel your breath as you say it?  Let’s all try it and make the Fonzie thumbs up together, “Ayyyyyy.”  I am going to say a sentence with this /A/ sound in it using our a_e.  Listen because you are going to say it with me the second time.  “Brave James takes cake on a plate to a place in space.”


2.  “Now we are going to play a game called ‘Island of the Magic E.”  This is a giant board game that has various words written on each space that are a_e = /A/ words that when the e is covered, a word with a=/a/ is left.  You can make this game look however you like, but the goal is to get to the picture of the Island of the Magic E at the end of the board game.  The students will be divided into two teams.  They have to roll the dice and move the allotted spaces.  When they land on the space they have to read the word with a_e, then cover the e and read the a = /a/ word.  If the students misread a word they have to go back to their previous spot on the board.  This is a great way to review the a = /a/ correspondence while reiterating the a_e = /A/.  The first group to reach the Island of the Magic E wins.    Some examples of words used in the game are: rate, fade, state, made, hate, and fate.  For a more advanced group I would include some words that when the e is covered the students would be reading pseudowords.  For instance:  shape, skate, stake, grape, crate, etc. 


3.  Have students take out their Elkonin boxes and letters.  “Now we are going to practice spelling some words with the a_e = /A/ in them.”  I will model for the students by doing an example word on overhead projector.  I will remind the students that every box represents a sound in the word and since the e does not make a sound in a_e we will put it outside our box.  My word is ate.  I ate a lot of candy today. (spell it out on my letterboxes).  I am going to place the letter that represents each sound in its own box.  First I will put the /t/ at the end because that is the last sound I hear in ate.  Next I will put my a in the first box because that is the first sound I hear.  I now have at so I need my mysterious e to make it ate.”


4.  “Now you try ( I will then give the students words to manipulate with).”  We will check each on as a class once everyone has had a chance to spell it.  I will say, “Remember our language is a secret code and you are working right now to decode the secret messages!  I will start with three phoneme words, then move to four and five phoneme words.  I will make sure no student clears their boxes until everyone is finished and we have discussed it as a class. 


5.  “Now I am going to do the spelling and I want you to tell me the secret code word I am trying to say.”  I will then spell the words the students just finished spelling and allow each person a chance to read a word.


6.  Next, I will have the students work with me in small group.  They will read James and the Good Day by Sheila Cushman published by Educational Insights.  I will scaffold as the students need it and will have the students read it with a buddy after we read it as a group. 


7.  I will say, “Now I want you to try and find words with our a_e = /A/.  Reread James and the Good Day, but this time, I want you to write any words you find with a_e.  We will share them with each other when we are finished. 



Ludlum, A.  E-e-e-e-eggs in Be-e-ed???????.

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