The SCARY, Creaky Door!

Emergent Literacy
Meredith Mosley


Rationale:  Reading is not a process that comes naturally to anyone!  In order for children to be able to learn to read and spell words, they must understand the concept and obtain the alphabetic insight to do so.  Children need to know that letters stand for phonemes and spellings map out the phonemes in written words.  Children cannot match letters to phonemes until they can understand and recognize the phonemes in spoken word context.  Vowels in general are very tricky and extremely difficult phonemes to recognize.  In many cases, it is appropriate to understand the short vowels first before learning the long vowels.  This lesson is designed to help children identify the /e/ (short e) sound.  The children will learn to recognize /e/ in spoken words by learning an expressive representation and a letter symbol.  Then, they will practice finding the /e/ in words.

Primary paper


Chart with “The Eskimo fed his elk eggs on the empty red sled.”

Drawing paper


Picture page with: egg, bed, jet, pet, red, band, nest, desk, lip, skip, map, sled.

Red Gets Fed



1. Ask the children if they have ever watched Scooby Doo.  Explain to the students that the friends in this show always have a mystery to solve, and our written language is our very own mystery.  The mystery of our written language is figuring out the secret code!  The trickiest part is to learn what each letter stands for – or rather the mouth movement we make as we say words.  Today we are going to work on “solving the mystery” of making the /e/ mouth move.  At first, it will be hard to find the /e/ in words, but as you practice and get to know it better, you will be able to “crack the case” and spot /e/ in all sorts of words!

 2.  Have you ever been in an old house or really any house and heard an old door say /e/ as it is being opened or closed?  Well, this is the mouth move that we are looking for today in words.  Let’s all pretend that we are investigating a mystery with Scooby Doo and are about the open a scary, creaky door!  Now say /e/! [Pretend to open the scary, creaky door].  You see, many old doors make this creaky noise.  Make your scary, creak door sound one more time: /e/!

 3.  We are going to try a tongue twister now [displayed on chart].  “The Eskimo fed his elk eggs on the empty red sled.”  Everyone say this sentence 3 times together!  I want you to say it again with me, but this time raise your hand every time you hear the /e/ sound.  Now say it again, but this time stretch the /e/ sound you hear in the words.  “The Eeeeskimo feeed his eeelk eeeggs on the reeed sleeed.” 

 4.  [Have the students take out primary paper and a pencil].  We are getting so close to solving the mystery!  Now, we can use the letter e to spell /e/.  Let’s try it!  Now we are going to write the letter e!  Everyone get your pencil in the center of the space just below the fence.  Now, go toward the door [right], up to touch the fence, around and up.  I want to see everybody’s e.  After I put a smiley face on it, I want you to make the letter e nine more times just like this first one!  Here is another clue to the mystery… if you see the letter e all by itself in a word, that is the signal to say /e/.

 5.  Let me show you how to find the /e/ sound in the word best.  I am going to streeetch best out in really slow motion, and I want you to listen for that scary, creaky door!  B-b-b-b-e-e-e-e-s-s-s-s-t-t-t-t.  B-b-b-b-e-e-e-e…. We found another clue gang!  I do hear the scary, creaky door /e/ in best!

 6.  Call on students to answer and tell you how they knew:  Do you hear /e/ tent or grab?  fell or clip?  fish or help?  bet or cap?  stretch or brick?  Now, pass out a card to each student.  Say:  Let’s see if you can spot the mouth move /e/ in some words.  Open your scary, creaky door if you hear /e/.  The, Eskimo, fed, his, elk, eggs, on, the, red, sled.

 7.  Read Red Gets Fed and then talk about the story.  Give a book talk about it by telling the climax of the story, but not telling the resolution.  Ask questions throughout the story about the plot to keep the students engaged.  Now, read it again and have the students open their scary, creaky door when they hear the /e/ sound in words.  Make a list of the words they identify on the board.  Then, have each student draw a scary, creaky door and write a message to Scooby Doo about why the door is scary using invented spelling.  Display their work.

 8.  For the children’s assessment, distribute among the children the picture page and help the students go through the pictures naming each one of them.  Ask the students to help Scooby Doo solve the case by circling the pictures whose names have /e/ in them.



Murray, Bruce.  The Reading Genie.  

 Lilly, Jennifer.  Open the Creaky Door. 

 Cushman, Sheila and Patti Briles (illustrator).  Red Gets Fed. Educational Insights, c2000. Carson, CA.

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