Grandpa Ed

Emergent Literacy

Amanda Cummings

: Teaching phoneme identities one at a time is an effective way of helping children become more comfortable and aware of phonemes. Therefore, this lesson aims to allow children to become more comfortable with a short vowel phoneme, which can often be the most difficult to identify, by teaching it in isolation. We will work on identifying /e/ (short e). Students will learn the phoneme, a meaningful representation, and a letter symbol. We will use auditory exercises to assess if students recognize the sound in words as well as invented spelling simple words using short e.

Material:  Primary paper and pencil, chart of primary paper,  copy of book Red Gets Fed (Educational Insights. Carson, CA. 1990),  crayons and drawing paper,
stamp,  picture of old man hard of hearing, more specifically Grandpa Ed from, and
Checklist for invented spelling:

  1. Today, we are going to start working on using the letters in the alphabet to write words but before we can do that we must understand a secret about our language. Each letter has a certain sound- the way the mouth moves when you say it. In order to write words we must be able to hear those sounds. It may be difficult at first but the more we work with this the better you will get at it. We are going to start with listening, saying, and writing with /e/. Let's get started.
  2. Ask: How many of you have ever asked your grandfather a question and had him say /e/, what did you say? Well that is the sound the /e/ makes or the way the mouth moves when you say it. Let me show you. When you say Ed. I hear Eeeee d. Now, whenever we say /e/ we are going to think about this picture. (Show picture of Grandpa Ed). Model for students by putting hand behind your ear and leaning forward to say /e/. Now, ask students to practice this.  Let's pretend you are Grandpa Ed and when I tell you something you cannot quite hear what I say. So you will say /e/. (Have students put their hand behind their ear, lean forward, and say /e/.) Now, let's try a tongue twister to see if you can hear /e/.  Repeat after me, "Everybody saw Eddie and the Eskimo enter the elevator on the elephant." Let's say it three more times together. See if you can hear /e/ in it. Put your hand up to your ear like Grandpa Ed when you hear it. Let's stretch out the words slowly so we can hear it easier. "Eeeverbody saw Eeeddie and the Eeeskimo enter the Eeelevator on the Eeelephant." Now this time, let's break off the /e/ in the word. "/e/verybody saw /e/ddie and /e/skimo enter the /e/levator on the /e/lephant."
  3.  Have students work on the letter symbol for /e/.  Students will use primary paper and a pencil. Demonstrate making an e. Say: Get in the center of the space below the fence, go toward the door (right) up to touch the fence, around and up. Walk around and check students work, get them to practice four more times after you put a stamp on their paper. 
  4. Let me show you how to find the /e/ in a word.  I am going to stretch out the word pest and listen for /e/ like Grandpa Ed would say.  Pppp -eeeee... Did you hear it?  I hear what Grandpa Ed saying /e/ in pest. 
  5. Call on students to identify if they recognize /e/ in the following words. Do you hear /e/ in bed or cot? Do you hear pet or cat? Smell or stink? Dress or shirt. It is important that we listen for those sounds when we hear words and when we want to write words. 
  6. Say "Red is Meg's family pet. He wakes up everyone in his family begging for food, but everyone wants to sleep. Will they get up and feed Red breakfast or will they keep on sleeping? Let's read to find out." Read Red Gets Fed to the students. Talk about the story, and then reread the story. Ask students to raise their hand if they hear a word with /e/. We will make a list of the words on a chart so that they students make be exposed to /e/ within a word.
  7. Now we will work on the spelling of words with e. I will explain to my students that they may not know how to spell every word but I want them to try their best.  I will give students a word and on their primary paper they will use invented spelling and their new understanding of the /e/ to write the word.  They will write the following words: bell, flag, net, sled, crab, nest, dress. Talk about each word making sure students understand the meaning of each word. If time, allow them to rewrite the word on a separate piece of paper and illustrate their word. Display their work.  
  8.  For assessment, check students' written work to determine if they understood /e/ in their invented spelling. See checklist for written work in materials.  Work with students individually asking them to say other words I will provide such as (smell, bat, nod, west, crept, cap, pit, Ned). They will act like Grandpa Ed if they hear /e/ in the word. This will allow you to see if they have understood the sound /e/ and how the mouth moves as well as if they can apply that to our written language.


Murray, Bruce.  The Reading Genie. 'Overview: How Children Learn to Read Words.'

Murray, Bruce. The Reading Genie. 'Making Friends with Phonemes'

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