By Leigh Morgan

Beginning Reading Lesson



The students are doing well with consonants, short vowels, and long vowels as signaled by single graphemes.  They have learned the ee=/E/ correspondence and are comfortable with the fact that more than one letter combination can say /E/.  This lesson will help them to identify and use the ea=/E/ correspondence using letter boxes, a method with which they are already familiar.






Explain Why – “Some sounds can be spelled in different ways.  We need to be able to recognize the different spellings so that we can read words that we have never seen before.”


Review – “Do you remember the /E/ sound?  It’s the spider sound.  Do you remember why it is the spider sound?  Right, because it is the sound that my sister makes when she sees a spider!  We have learned that this (write “ee” on the board) tells us to use the /E/ sound and today we are going to learn a new way that letters say /E/.”


Explain How – “Look at this combination (write “ea” on the board).  This also says /E/.  In fact there is something on your head right now that has the same /E/ in its name.  Do you know what it is?  That’s right – your ear!”


Model –   Put four letter boxes up on the board with sticky tack. “If I wanted to read this word (put dream up in the appropriate letter boxes), I would start with this part (take off d, r, and m).  This says what?”  Class responds “/E/”

“Very well done.  Now I would put this back (put up d and r).  /d/, /r/, /E/…/d//r//E/.  Ok /d//r//E/.  Now I will add the last part back (put the m up).  /d//r//E/, /m/…../d//r//E/, /m/,  /d//r//E//m/….DREAM!


Simple Practice –   “I am going to give each of you a letter of the alphabet and we are going to use the letters to spell words in our class letter boxes.  If you think that your letter is in the word I call out, stand up and the class will decide together if your letter is in the word.  If it is you may come up and put your letter in the letterbox where you think it goes.  If you need help you may pick a friend to help you put it in the correct box.”  Put up two boxes and call out the words eat and ear.  Put up three boxes and call out the words beak, tear, and beam.  Put up four boxes and call out the words treat and spear.  Put up five boxes and call out the word streak.  The teacher may select more words if desired.  The students already know how to do a letterbox lesson so no in-depth instruction should be necessary.  “Now that you have spelled words for me, I will spell word for you!  See if you can read the words I write on the board.”  Write the words that the students spelled, one-by-one on the board in random order.


Whole Texts –   “You have this down.  Good job.  Now I want you to get with your reading buddy.  We are going to read the book Sleepy Dog to each other.  I want both of you to read the book.


Assessment -   “After both reading buddies get a chance to read Sleepy Dog  Use a check list to assess the students’ use of the “spider sound”. get out a piece of paper and write down all the words that you find in the story with the /E/ - spider – sound.”



Murray, Bruce and Theresa Lesniak.  “The Letterbox Lesson: A Hands-On Approach for

 Teaching Decoding,”  The Reading Teacher. Vol. 52. P 644-650. March 1999


Pinnell, Gay Su, Mary D. Fried, and Rose Mary Estice.  “Reading Recovery:  Learning

 How to Make a Difference,” The Reading Teacher. P 282-295January 1990

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