Eeeee - It's a Mouse!

Emergent Literacy

Heather Lewis


Breaking the alphabetic code that is part of the English language is completely essential in order for children to learn how to read. The key to breaking this important code is gaining the understanding that letters represent phonemes, or mouth moves in spoken words, and that letter symbols correspond to the mouth moves. The first step in the reading process is to teach children to hear phonemes in spoken words, which is the goal of this lesson. After the lesson, the students will be able to recognize /E/, the long e sound. They will learn to identify /E/ in spoken words by learning its letter symbols, having /E/ being represented meaningfully and memorably in an imaginative skit, learning a tongue twister, and finding /E/ in spoken words.



1. Begin the lesson by asking the students if they know what a detective's job is. After listening to their responses, inform the students: "Detectives have very important jobs: when there is a problem that needs to be solved, they have to find all of the clues and then look at those clues very carefully to solve the problem. Today each of you is going to be like a detective because you are going to figure out a secret code! Where have you seen words before? (Possible responses: books, television, signs on the road, food containers, etc.) Right! All of those words are made up of symbols called letters, and each of those letters is part of the secret code. The letters that make up the words you see stand for mouth moves. Can you say detective? Let's say it together, and pay close attention to your mouth - 'detective'. Did you feel your mouth moving? In order to read the words that you see everywhere, you have to know all of the mouth moves for the secret code. Guess what? You are going to learn one of the mouth moves to help you break the secret code. Remember, you are playing detective, so think of the mouth move as an important clue!  Today you are going to work on finding the mouth move /E/. I know it might seem sort of tricky at first, but you are so smart -”I know you can do it!"

2. Tell the students: "We can use two letter e's together to spell /E/ (show card with ee). (Pass out primary paper and pencils.) Let's write ee. (Model how to write ee while speaking.) Put your pencil right in the middle between the sidewalk and the fence, draw a line straight to the right, curve around up to the fence and then down to the sidewalk, touching the place where your pencil started on the way! That was one e. Now we have to make another one right next to it to make ee, so let's start right in the middle again between the sidewalk and the fence, draw a line straight to the right, curve around up to the fence and then down to the sidewalk, just like a little c, touching the place where your pencil started on the way! Hold up your ee's for me to see. Great job! Now I want you to make four more ee's on your own just like the first two that you wrote. Every time you see ee in a word, those ee's are telling you to say /E/!"

3. Tell the students: "Now we are going to play a pretending game. I want you to close your eyes with me, and let's pretend it is almost time for bed. You just got done watching your favorite show on television, and you know you are really sleepy because you keep yawning and rubbing your eyes. You get off the couch and walk slowly to your room, very slowly, because you are just so tired. You finally make it to your room and your bed looks nice and cozy, but as you pull back your covers to climb in, you see a big mouse in your bed! Eeeee! Alright, you can open your eyes now. Oh my goodness, how would you feel if that happened? I know I would be really scared! I would probably put my hands to my cheeks and make that /E/ sound that I made just a second ago. Let's think about finding this mouse in our bed (show picture of mouse) and make that noise together. Put your hands on your cheeks and say /E/."

4. Tell the students: "Let's do a tongue twister now! (Show poster while reading the tongue twister.)  I'm going to say it once, and then I want you to say it with me. 'Eagles eat electric eels easily.' Now you say it with me three times. Let's say it again, except this time we are going to stretch out the /E/ sound, and let's put our hands to our cheeks while we say the /E/ sound like we have just seen a mouse in our bed! 'Eeeeeagles eeeeeat eeeeelectric eeeeels eeeeeasily.' Let's say this silly sentence one last time. This time we are going to break that /E/ sound off of the words! 'Ea-gles ea-t e-lectric ee-ls ea-sily.'"

5. Tell the students: "Now I am going to play detective, just like we talked about earlier, and see if I can find /E/ in a word! Let's see, I'm going to find /E/ in green. Hmm... g-g-g-r-ee-n. G-g-g-r-r-ee-ee-ee... Oh, I found it! I heard that /E/ sound that we might make if we found a mouse in our beds!"

6. Tell the students: "Now it's your turn to play detective. I want you to raise your hand if you think you know the answer. If it helps you, think about how you would say /E/ and put your hands on your cheeks as if you just saw a mouse in your bed (Make sure each student answers at least once, and ask the students how they knew the answer.) Do you hear /E/ in see or smell? Ant or bee? Awake or asleep? Sweet or nice? Rain or sleet? Great job! Now I am going to say a silly sentence slowly, and if you hear /E/, I want you to put your hands on your cheeks like you have just seen a mouse in your bed! Even , the , Easter , bunny ,  likes ,  leaving ,  Easter ,  eggs , in ,  the ,  green , grass."

7. Tell the students: "Now I have a great book that I am going to read! It is called The Mean Geese. On the front page of the book are the mean geese that the title is talking about, and they really are mean! They are mean to a mother cat and her kittens and a nice dog named Lad. The geese even start nipping at poor Lad's feet, and when he jumps in the stream to try to get away from the geese, they follow him! Let's read the book to see if Lad gets away from those mean geese! (Read the story, making conversationg about the book throughout to help children make connections and remain engaged with the meaning.) Now I am going to read the story again, but this time every time you hear /E/, I want you to put your hands on your cheeks like you were so scared because you found that pesky mouse in your bed, and I will put those words on my poster! Let's see if we can find all of the words with /E/ in them! (Read the story again and write the words on the poster.) Now you get to draw a picture of geese and write a message about them (with invented spelling). When you are finished I will hang up your work!"

8. For assessment, pass out the picture page worksheet and make sure each student knows the name of every picture. Tell the students: "I want you to color all of the pictures that have /E/ in their name."


Lynch, Heather. Stick out your tongue... and say ah!. Retrieved January 25, 2007 from:

Murray, Geri. Mean Gease. Retrieved January 25, 2007 from:

Return to the Odysseys index.