“Eehh?” is for Eleven Elephants

Emergent Literacy
Nicole Huff

Rationale:  The goal of letter-sound instruction is to help students to acquire the relations between printed letters and speech sounds.  In order for children to attain the goal of letter-sound instruction to learn to read and write successfully they must have phoneme awareness. For children to recognize phonemes in spoken words and their corresponding letters or mappings the student must be able to recognize phonemes in their oral contexts.  As children begin to recognize phonemes, the development of reading and letter-sound correspondence develops.  The following lesson will help children to learn recognize the e = /e/ sound in spoken words by making a connection between that sound and an action.  The students will also get practice in recognizing /e/ in spoken words by using the flashcards and Elkonin boxes accompanied with manipulatives.

Materials: Book Red Gets Fed by Educational Insights, primary paper, pencil, visual picture of someone making the e = /e/ phoneme by cupping their hand around their ear making the “Eehh?” sound, flash cards with letterbox words (end, shed, wet, ten, test, fled, spent, trend), Elkonin boxes and letter manipulatives for every student (d, e, f, h, l, n, p, r, s, t, w).

Begin your lesson by talking to your students by informing them that our mouth makes different moves for different letters in the alphabet.  “Every letter in the alphabet has its own unique mouth move and sound.  Today we are going to focus on the short vowel e that makes our mouth move /e/.  You may not always remember what the e=/e/ sound makes in the beginning but with a gesture that we are going to learn it will make it easy to remember when we see letters.”

2.         Has anyone ever seen someone who didn’t hear what you said go “Eehh?”
(Cup hand next to ear while saying sound)  The way our mouth moves when we say that is the way our mouth is supposed to move when we are looking for e’s in words.  I want everyone to pretend like I just said something you didn’t hear and say /e/.  (Cup hand next to ear). 

3.         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 three 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/.

4.         I am going to write a tongue twister on my paper and I am going to say it once
and then we are going to repeat it together.  “Eleven elephants exercised every day!”  Now let’s say it together. “Eleven elephants exercised every day.”  Let’s say it a second time while sounding out the “Eehh” in every word. “Eeeeeleeeeveeeen eeeeelephants eeeeexercised eeeeevery day.”

5.         Now we are going to see how well students can use their ability to hear /e/ in
spoken words.  “Now I am going to read you two words and I want you to raise your hand and tell me which on has that Ehhh? sound in it.  Car, bed; do you hear /e/ in car or bed? (Give two or three more examples).  You could also try writing the words on the board and pointing out the e=/e/ in the word to visually show them relationship between the grapheme and phoneme.

6.         To help apply this lesson read Red Gets Fed and discuss the storyline with the students.  While reading the book and discussing what is going on in the story remind the students of the /e/ phoneme that is being presented.  After reading the story have the children use invented spelling to discuss a part of the book or what section they liked best.

7.         To assess students in this lesson distribute a page with pictures expressing and not expressing the e=/e/ sound.  Have the students identify and sound out the picture and circle those pictures that are expressing the e=/e/ phoneme.  I will also walk amongst the students while they are working on this sheet to acknowledge their ability to recognize and properly sound out the e=/e/ phoneme, while also providing help if they need to be reminded of the visual presented earlier during the lesson.


Red Gets Fed, Carson, CA. Educational Insights, 1990.                 

Adams, Marilyn Jager. (1990) Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about:  A Summary.  Center for the Study of Reading Research and Education Center University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.     Print. University of Illinois.

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