Beginning Reading Lesson Design

                                                   By: Shelley Horton                                                  



In order for beginning readers to become successful in reading and writing, they must first understand and recognize that each letter in the alphabet represents a different sound. By learning about phonemes and letter correspondences, beginning readers can become fluent readers. Short vowels are often difficult for students to identify and therefore, this lesson will focus on the vowel correspondences i = /i/. The students will learn the /i/ correspondence through a meaningful representation. In addition, they will learn to spell and read words with the /i/ sound through a letterbox lesson and reading a new book with /i/ words.

Chart with the Tongue Twister, "Isabelle the lizard lived inside the igloo"
Primary pencils and paper for each student
Elkonin Boxes for each student (up to 5 boxes)
Plastic letters for each student: (i, t, t, s, b, p, h, m, l, c, d, r, f, w, t)
Oversized letterboxes and letters
Picture of  'Icky Sticky' (an insect that looks sticky)
Book, Liz is Six (one for each student)
Pseudo word test (gib, sif, rin, hin, wid)


Begin the lesson by explaining to the students that they are going to learn about the letter i and the sound it makes. “We hear the /i/ sound in a lot of spoken words and see the vowel i in a lot of spoken words. It’s a very important letter to remember! Today we are going to learn how to spell and read words that have the letter /i/ sound.”

2. Ask students: “Have you ever gotten something sticky all over your hands? What did you say when this happened? That’s right! You said, “Icky!” Well, this is the sound that the short i makes. When we make the /i/ sound, our mouth is open and our tongue is slightly lowered. Let’s all pretend that we have something all over our hands that is sticky. Now, hold out your hands and make the /i/ sound, while shaking your head. Good Job!”

3. Now we are going to look at the tongue twister. “Let’s say it all together. Isabelle the lizard lived inside the igloo. Good! Now, we are going to say it again but this time when you hear the short /i/ sound, I want you to shake your hands and stretch the sound. For instance, if I say little then we will say liiiiiiitle instead. Iiiiiiiisabelle the liiiiizard liiiiiived iiiinside the iiiigloo. Great job! Let’s try it one more time!

4. Now let’s practice finding the /i/ sound in some spoken words. Do you hear /i/ in pig or dog? Run or hit? Skin or hair? Small or big?

5. Next, do a group letterbox lesson with i = /i/ words. "Boys and girls, you will need to make sure you spread out your letters so that you can see all of them." Make sure that each student can see the big teacher letterboxes and letters. “We are going to learn how to spell words that contain the /i/ sound. Remember that each box contains just one sound. Watch as I spell our first word together. Let’s spell the word s-i-i-i-i-t-t. The first sound that you hear in sit is the /s/ sound. We know this because of the /s/ sound. So let’s put the letter s in the first letterbox. Now, let’s say it again, s-s-i-i-i-t-t. So the next sound we hear is the letter i. So let’s put the letter i in the second letterbox. Now, let’s say the word again and figure out what the last sound is. The last letter we hear is the letter t, because of the /t/ sound. So let’s put the letter t in the third letterbox. We have just spelled sit in our box. Now it is your turn to see if you can spell words that have /i/ in them. Have the students use their letters and letterboxes to spell the following words: {2 – it, is; 3 – big, pit, ship, him; 4 – list, clip, spit; 5 – drift, twist}. Tell the students how many boxes for each set of words listed.

6. After all of the words have been spelled by the students with the boxes, take up the boxes. Have students read the words as I spell the words for them. For instance, spell the word drift. Then have the students read the word drift back. Listen as the students respond to make sure they are able to correctly read each word. If a student is having trouble, encourage them to use body-coda blending.

7. We are now ready to practice reading with the /i/ sound. "Today, we are going to read a book called Liz is Six. This book is about a little girl named Liz who is turning six years old. She gets a baseball glove for her birthday. She is able to catch the little pig’s hit but will the little pig be able to catch her hit? Well, you will have to read Liz is Six to see what happens to Liz and the pig. The students will read their book silently and if they come across any problems they may raise their hand for help. When they have finished reading, have them raise their hand and tell what words they found that contained the /i/ sound. We will make a list of all the words they found on the board.

8. Assessment: Give each student a pseudoword test with /i/ words. Ask them to read the following silly words: gib, sif, rin, hin, wid.


Murray, B.A&Lesniak, T. (19990). “The letterbox lesson: A hands-on approach for

             Teaching decoding.” “The reading Teacher, volume 52, no. 6, 644-650.

 Kohtala, Mareena. “Icky Sticky”


 (1990). Phonics Reader Short Vowel, Liz Is Six. Carson, CA (USA): Educational

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