Exciting E’s “/e/…what did you say?”  EXCITING E’S!!!


Beginning reading

Deanna Barrera


It is important for beginning readers to become aware of phonemes in words in order to know the sounds each letter makes.  A phoneme is the vocal gesture found in spoken words.  The most difficult phonemes for children to recognize are vowels. Phoneme awareness is one of the best predictors of reading proficiency.  In this lesson, students will practice distinguishing the phoneme e=/e/ in spoken and written words.  This lesson will provide practice in spelling and reading the vowel e = /e/.



dry erase board

 markers for board

 sentence strip with tongue twister on it (Every egg is on the bed)

primary paper


copy of the decodable book, Red Gets Fed, for every student

Elkonin boxes for every student

letter manipulatives for every student (e, d, f , t, n, c, k , s, p, l, r)

Elkonin boxes with magnets on back to put on board

letter manipulatives with velcro and magnets to put on board (e, d, f, t, n ,c, k, s, p, l, r)



  1. I would introduce the lesson by saying, "Good morning boys and girls! Today we are going to do a letterbox lesson.  The letterboxes will help us see the different sounds in words and the spellings are maps of those sounds.  When you learn the secret code of the way words are written then it will become easier to read and remember words. So, now we are going to learn the short vowel e. The e makes the /e/ sound.  If you are having a difficult time remembering what sound the /e/ makes just remember it is the sound when someone can’t hear you very good.  Kind of like your grandmother or grandfather.  "/e/ what did you say?" For example, here is the word pet (spell pet in the three letterboxes on the board). (Point to the letter e)This letter sounds like /e/ what did you say? (Make sure to do the hand motion, cupping your hand around your ear).  Okay boys and girls I want you all to think about the way your mouth moves when you say /e/. Everyone say /e/.  Awesome, this time I am going to say /e/ and cup my hand to my ear, like I am having trouble hearing you(Demonstrate hand to ear) /e/…boys and girls I can’t hear you.  Now I want you to try it with me.  Everyone put your hand to your ear.  Very good, now say /e/…I can’t hear you! Now I want everyone to do it together. Wonderful!"


  1. Introduce the tongue twister.  Hold up the tongue twister on a sentence strip.  "Okay, I am going to read the sentence once and then I want you to read it with me.  Ellie’s Elephant has an Eskimo dress.  Now lets say it together.  Ellie’s Elephant has an Eskimo dress.  Great job!  This time I am going to cup my hand around my ear when I hear the sound /e/ like /e/…I can’t hear you. (demonstrate to students) Okay now I want everyone to try it with me, don’t forget to cup your  hand around your ear when you hear the /e/ sound.  Eeeellie’s Eeeelaphant has an Eeeeskimo dreeees.  Way to go!"



  1. Ask the students questions about which words have the /e/ in spoken words.  I am going to read you two words and I want you to tell me which words have the /e/ sound in it.  For example, do you hear /e/ in bed or mat bed, good job!  Let’s start.  Do you hear /e/ in red or black? let or stopsled or car? dog or pet? Good job!


  1. "Now I want you to get out your boxes and letters.  We are going to spell some words.  Remember only one mouth move goes in each box." (I will first model how to put each letter sound in the box and then give the students different words to put into practice on their own.)  "Okay, the word is /p/ /e/ /n/ I am going to put each letter/sound, mouth move, in one letterbox. /p/ that is one sound so I will put /p/ in the first box.  What sound do I hear next? peee, I hear /e/ just like /e/… I can’t hear you. So I am going to put /e/ in the next box.  Do I hear anything else in the word pen? Peeennn, I hear /n/, I will put /n/ in the next box. Now I want you to try it." I will give the students different words to spell.  Making sure to use the word I give them in a sentence. 2-[Ed, at], 3-[fed, neck, ten, lab] 4-[nest, tent, fast], 5-[slept, blend, crept, stamp]. Monitor the students to make sure they are putting the correct letters in the boxes.  If they spell the word wrong say the word aloud the way they spelled it and see if they can correct it on their own.  If not then provide the word by modeling and explaining the correct spelling.


  1. Put the words from the letterbox lesson one at time on the board and have them read each word.  If the students are struggling with the word model for the students how to read the word on the board.  "For the word fed, I first would start with /e/, then add the /f//e/-/fe/, and finally add the end of the word /fe/d/- /fed/."


  1. "You are doing a great job!  Now, we are going to read a book and listen for the /e/ sound.  We are going to read Red Gets Fed.  Red it a dog.  Red is some times tricky.  Red loves to eat and eat.  Red decides to pull a trick on his family but I wonder what he is going to do?  Well we will have to read this book to find out."  Put the students in partners and have them take turns reading the book to each other.


  1. For assessment I will bring each child up to my desk individually and take a running record while they read Red Gets Fed.


Murray, B.A., and Lesniak, T. (1999) The Letterbox Lesson:  A hands-on approach for teaching decoding.  The Reading Teacher, 52, 644-656.

 Red Gets Fed.  Educational Insights.

Tippett, Dorsey.  http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/connect/tippettbr.html . "Let’s help E out."

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