Grace Tully

A Seal’s Meal:
Beginning Reading Lesson Design

Rationale:  It is important that children learn the long vowels after they have a good grasp on the short vowels.  A sometimes difficult long vowel to figure out is /E/ using the ea=/E/ correspondence.  In this lesson, the children will learn to recognize ea=/E/ in spoken and written words through a group letterbox lesson, reading a book, and a writing activity.  It is important that the children accomplish the goals of this lesson so that they become better readers and writers.

Materials:  Elkonin letterboxes for each child, laminated letters e, a, t, s, l, p, b, n, m, class copy of What Will the Seal Eat? (Educational Insights), primary writing paper, pencils, chalkboard, and chalk.
1. “Who can remember what letter we have been working on?  Right, the letter E.  Last week, we talked about a sound that the letter E makes.  Who can tell me the sound?  Correct, it makes the sound /E/ and the sound /e/.  Which sound did we talk about last week?  Yes, we talked about the /E/ sound and we said that two e’s put together make that sound.”
2. “Today we are going to talk about a different way to make the /E/ sound.  We’re going to use the letters e and a to make the long /E/ sound.  Some words use two e’s like we talked about last week and some words use e and a put together like we’re going to talk about today.”
3. “First, everyone needs to get out their letterboxes.  After you have your letterbox on your desk, get out your laminated letters.  I am going to write some letters on the board.  Those are the letters I want you to use today.  We are going to use the letters e, a, t, s, l, p, b, n, and m.  Now, I’m going to call out a word and say a sentence.  Then I want you to use your letters to spell the word I call out.  The first word will only need two boxes.  Remember that the e and a will stick together to make the /E/ sound.  The word is eat.  I like to eat candy.  Still using two boxes spell sea.  I want to swim in the sea.  Ok now we’re going to use three boxes and always remember that the e and a stick together.  The word is seal.  I saw a seal at the zoo.  Next is leap.  How high can you leap?  The next word is bean.  I don’t want a bean.  The last word is meal.  When can we have our meal?”  If children are having trouble with the spelling a neighbor or the teacher can help.  The teacher will also write the word on the board after everyone is through spelling the word so they can check themselves.
4. “Everyone did such a great job spelling words using e and a to make the /E/ sound!  Now, let’s read a book called What Will the Seal Eat?  This book is about a seal who is very hungry.  He goes to all kinds of silly places to find food until he finds what he really wants to eat.  Let’s read the book to find out about the places he goes and see what he ends up eating.”  The class follows along while the teacher reads the book.
5. “Now, I want you to get with a partner and take turns reading the book to each other.  When you are finished get out your primary writing paper and make a list of all the words with the long /E/ sound using the letters e and a together.  For example, the title of the book is What Will the Seal Eat?  Who can tell me a word in the title with the long /E/ sound using e and a?  That’s right, seal uses e and a together to make that sound.  Is there another word in the title we can write down?  Right, eat is the other word.  Ok, now I want you to read the book with your partner and then start your long /E/ list.”  The children should have the words seal, eat, peas, beans, treats, beat, leaps, sea, real, and meal written down.
6.  “Ok, I think everyone is finished.  Who would like to write one of the words from their list on the board?”  The teacher will call on students to come write a word from their list on the board.  “Good job!  Everyone found the long /E/ words.  Let’s open the book and count how many times the word seal is in the book.  Right, fourteen times.  I want everyone to try and think of a word we didn’t see in the book that uses e and a to make the long /E/ sound.  Write the word down on your paper under your list you made.  When you are finished, turn your papers in to me.”
7. “Now, who can tell me something they noticed about some of the words in this book?  Did you see any words with the long /E/ sound that used two e’s put together like we talked about last week?  Right, there were some words like that.  Let’s find the words with two e’s.”  The children will call out the words as they find them (needs, beef, beets, feels, and sees).
8. Assessment can be taken through observation and the use of a checklist.  The checklist should be similar to the attached example.

1. Starr, Kelly. Cheep, Cheep. (n.d.)  Retrieved October 16, 2002, from
2. Educational Insights. (1990). What Will the Seal Eat?. Carson, CA (USA), St Albans, Herts. (UK).

Long e using ea check off sheet:

1.  Child correctly spells letterbox lesson words:  eat  ______
       sea  ______
       seal  ______
       leap  ______
       bean  ______
       meal  ______

2. Child is able to read the book What Will the Seal Eat? with a partner. ________

3.  Child correctly identifies and writes down the ea=/E/ words from the book:
            seal  _____
          eat  _____
          peas _____
          beans  _____
          treats  _____
          beat  _____
          leaps  _____
          sea  _____
          real _____
          meal _____

4. Child is able to think of and write down another ea=/E/ word not used in the book. ___

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