Beginning Reading
Joy Gettys
Icky i !!!


Beginner readers need to be able to break the alphabetic code in order to learn to read.  They need to learn that there are many sounds that our mouth makes, and these are called phonemes.  They need to understand that letters and phonemes are connected.   When they see a letter, they need to be able to identify the sound that letter makes.  By learning letter correspondences, they can become more fluent readers.  Some of the most important correspondences to teach first concern the short vowels.  This lesson will help children identify the correspondence i=/i/.  They will learn the sound i makes by learning an insightful representation, and they will learn how to better identify /i/ in spoken words.  They will learn to spell and read words with the /i/ sound through the letterbox lesson and by reading a new book.


 Card with letter i; Elkonin letterbox set for each child; 1 large laminated Elkonin letterbox for teacher use; laminated lower case letters: i, n, t, f, p, g, h, m, l, d, r, s, t; large laminated lower case letters:  i, n, t, f, p, g, h, m, l, d, r, s, t; posters with the following words:  tin, fit, pig, him, lid, trip, slid, tilt, strip; enough copies of Tin Man Fix-It (Educational Insights) for the whole class; assessment sheet with letterboxes [#1-3 boxes (fig), #2-3 boxes (mit), #3-3 boxes (bid), #4-4 boxes (slid), #5-4 boxes (grip)]


1. Introduce the lesson by explaining that letters make different sounds and that to become good readers, we need to be able to match letters to their sounds.  Today, we are going to learn that the letter i can make the /i/ sound.  As you get to know the sound little i makes, you will be able to read and spell many new words.

2. Show the class the letter i.  The little i can make the /i/ sound when it is by itself in a word.  Can you all make the /i/ sound?  /i/.  Very good.  We sometimes say the /i/ sound when we taste or feel something icky.  /i/, that tastes icky.  Let’s pretend that we had to take some medicine.  /i/! Now you say /i/.  /i/.  /i/, that tastes icky!

3. Ask students the following questions and call on them to answer:  Do you hear /i/ in tip or mat?  Frog or fish?  Tin or meal?  Kit or net?  Ship or nap?  Math or hill?

4. Demonstrate with large letterboxes how to spell words.  Say:  Now, we are going to practice spelling words with the /i/ sound.  Each letterbox will have one sound in each box.  I am going to spell the word it.  [Pronounce it very slowly to class]  It helps to say the word to yourself a few times.  Iiittt.  iiittt.  I hear the /i/ sound, so I will put i in the first box.  Iiittt.  I also hear the /t/ sound, so I will put the t in the 2nd box.  Iiittt. It.   I heard all the sounds in it.  Now let’s see if you can spell some words with the /i/ sound.

5. Pass out Elkonin letterboxes to every student.  Then pass out the letters each child will need for the letterbox lesson.  Say:  Now we are going to practice spelling some words with the /i/ sound.  See if you can spell in.  When you are finished, please raise your hand so I can come around to see your answers.  After everyone is finished, select a student to model the spelling on the large letterboxes for the whole class.  Continue the lesson with the following words:  3-(tin, fit, pig, him, lid); 4-(trip, slid, tilt); 5-(strip).  Tell the children how many boxes to use for each group of words.

6. Show the class a  poster with the word tin.  Have the students read the word aloud.  Continue this with the following words:  fit, pig, him, lid, trip, slid, tilt, strip.

7. [Give each student a copy of Tin Man Fix-It.]  Say:  Today you are going to read Tin Man Fix-It.  This is about a tin man named Tim.  Do you all know what a tin man is made out of?  Well, this tin man falls and breaks.  We will have to read the story to see if anyone can fix him.  Have the children read the book, Tin Man Fix-It, on their own.  Then ask the students if they remember any words from the story that have the /i/ sound.  [Write these words on the board as the children say them.]

8. For assessment, [give each child a sheet that has letterboxes].  The sheet is numbered from 1 to 5, and each number has a certain amount of letterboxes next to it.   [#1-3 boxes, #2-3 boxes, #3-3 boxes, #4-4 boxes, #5-4 boxes]  Say:  Now, I am going to call out 5 words that I want you to spell in the boxes in front of you.  Remember each box only has one sound.  Number 1: fig, Number 2: mit, Number 3: bid, Number 4-slid, Number 5-grip.  The children write in the sounds they hear in the boxes provided for each word they hear.  Then, take up the papers to assess understanding of the new correspondence.

Reference:  Murray, B.A., & Lesniak, T. (1999).  The Letterbox Lesson:  A hands-on approach for teaching decoding.  The Reading Teacher, 644-650.

Click here to return to Insights.