How Many Feet Will We Meet?
By Jacque Mills

Rationale:  In order to become fluent readers, children must learn to break the alphabetic code.  After they learn individual phonemes, they are ready to learn digraphs.  This lesson will help children learn to recognize ee=/E/ by spelling and reading words containing ee.

Materials:  Elkonin letterboxes and a set of lower case alphabet letters for each child, list of ee=/E/ words for teacher, list of necessary letters on the chalkboard, The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss.
Letterbox words:  deep, feet, need, weep, greet, speed, sleep, tweet, bleed, sweep
Necessary letters:  b, d, e, e, f, g, l, n, p, r, s, t, t, w

Procedures:
1. Introduce the lesson by explaining that when two vowels are side by side in a word, they make one sound instead of two individual sounds.  Today we’re going to learn the sound that two e’s side by side make so that we can read words that have ee in them.  We’ll practice spelling words with ee and reading words with ee.
2. When e and e are side by side, together they say /E/.  Repeat after me: ee says /E/.  Do you hear /E/ in feet or round?  Bed or sweet?
3. Do you think you can hear the difference in words with one e in the middle and words with two e’s in the middle?  I’m going to read you a few sentences.  When you hear a word with one e in the middle, I want you to stomp your feet one time.  When you hear a word with two e’s in the middle, stomp two times!  What does short e say? /e/.  And what does ee say?  /E/!
Example sentences:
a. I fed my dog a sweet potato.
b What do I need to do today?
c. The sun made my face red.
d. I’m going to meet my friends at the park.
4. We’re going to use our letterboxes to spell words with ee.  Together, e and e only make one sound, so they will both go in the same box. Spell deep with me. You spell it out loud as I spell it on the board.  (Teacher draws a letterbox with three squares on the board.  The first box contains d, the second box contains ee, and the third box contains p.)  Now take out your letterboxes and only the letters I have written on the board.
5. Fold your letterbox so that you have 3 squares showing for 3 sounds.  Now spell deep. Now spell feet, need, weep.  (Give them time to finish, then write the word on the board.  Move on to the next word.)  Now fold your letterbox with 4 squares showing for 4 sounds.  Spell greet, speed, sleep, tweet, bleed, sweep.
6. Put away your letters and your letterboxes.  Now read the words as I point to them. (Students read word list teacher has written on the board.)
7. Now we’re going to read The Foot Book.  In this story, we’ll meet all kinds of feet! How many feet do you think we’ll meet? (Note: this could easily move into a math lesson in counting or graphing.) Before we begin, tell me what ee says: /E/. Good!  Each child reads a page and the teacher finishes the book.  Assess by making notes of miscues as each child reads.

References:  Murray, B. A., & Lesniak, T. (1999). The letterbox lesson: A hands-on approach for teaching decoding.  The Reading Teacher, 52, 644-650.