Elephants and Eggs

Elizabeth Stevens

Rationale: Children at the beginning reading stage should learn their long and short vowel sounds. The first thing that most teachers teach students when they are learning to read is vowels. The short vowels are usually the first to be taught. Most teachers  start with a = /a/.  This lesson provides practices and experience to learn that e = /e/, assuming that they have already learned that a = /a/.

Materials:

• Primary paper and pencils
• Chart with “The excited elephant smelled the eggs.”
• Letter boxes
• Letter tiles for letters a, b, d, e, g, h, k, n, p, s, t
• The book Red Gets Fed
• Pictures of eggs, elephants acquired from the internet.

Procedure: Step 1. Introduce the lesson by showing the student pictures of an egg and an elephant. Ask him/her to say what the pictures are of and what sound they have in common. (Beginning sound). Explain to student that /e/ sounds like a creaky door opening. Show the student the hand motion of opening the door and making the creaky door /e/ sound.

Step 2. Introduce the chart with the tongue twister. We will read it through twice and on the third time we will stretch out the /e/ sound every time we come to it in the tongue twister. We will read it one more time breaking off the /e/ from the word when we come to it. “The e-e-e-excited e-e-e-ele-e-e-ephant sme-e-e-e-elled the e-e-e-e-eggs.” Then we will read it breaking off the /e/ from the word: “The /e/xcited  /e/l /e/phant  sm/e/lled the  /e/ggs.”

Step 3. I will then explain to them, if they were having trouble, how to recognize the /e/ in a word. I will use the word smell. “I want us to know how to hear the /e/ in a word. Let’s try to find the /e/ sound in the word smell. Let’s first try saying the word slowly. ‘S-s-s-sm-m-m-me-e-e-e-l-l-l-l.’ Did anyone hear the /e/ in smell? I heard it somewhere in the middle. Let’s do it again. ‘S-s-sm-m-me-e-e-el-l-l-l.’ Did you hear it that time? I’m going to write it on the board so that we can see where it might come in. Now let’s try it again. (I will have written the word smell on the board, and will use a pointer to point to the letters as each new sound is spoken.) ‘S-s-sm-m-me-e-e-el-l-l-l.’ Did everyone hear it that time? Great! Now let’s blend these sounds together slowly, so that we make sure that we hear the /e/. ‘S-sssm-me-el-l. Smell.’ Very good!!”

Step 4. I will then explain to the children that we will be using letter boxes to spell the words. We will be doing this as an individual activity while the rest of the students are at centers. I will explain that the students will be spelling words in letter boxes. Each letter box holds one sound. I will draw three large squares on the board to give them an idea of what they will look like. I will then ask the students to help me spell a word. “I would like to spell the word, cat in my letter boxes. How do you think I need to spell the word? Remember that only one sound can go into each box.” Hopefully the students will know that, in this case, only one letter can go into each box. “Let’s sound out the word. C-c-c-a-a-a-t-t-t. What is our first sound? /k/, that’s right. We will write our first sound in the first box. The /k/ sound is made by the letter c. The next sound is the /a/ sound. That will go in the second box. And that letter is going to be letter a. The last box is going to have the /t/ sound. That sound is made by the letter t. You have just spelled your first word in a letter box! Excellent! Now, let’s try another word that has the /e/ sound. How about the word, bet?” I will go through the steps again to help them spell the word bet in the letter boxes. I will then tell the student that I want to come to me first that he/she will be meeting me at my desk to spell words in the letter boxes. I will then dismiss the class to centers.

Step 5. After sending the children to their center activities, I will pull the children to my desk individually where I will then introduce the letter boxes and letter tiles and briefly explain the rules again. Each box holds the sounds in each word. I will explain that if two letters make one sound, then both letter tiles will go in that box. I will set the letters out, face up, and lay out the letter boxes according to the number of phonemes in the words I will give first. I will then ask the student to spell the following words: egg, pet, tap, set, Ben, pass, get, ten, best, kept, hand, test.

Step 6. After spelling the words in the letter boxes, I will have the student read words that I make from the letter tiles. These words will be the same words that we were just spelling in the letter boxes.

Step 7. I will then have the student read the book Red Gets Fed. I will give a book talk before I let him/her have the book. “This is Red. He’s a dog, and he lives with a family. Red wakes up very early one morning, but the family is still asleep. Red is very hungry. Do you think he will be able to wake anyone up to get breakfast?”

Assessment:  The students will be assessed on their ability to spell and read the words from the letter box lesson. The students will also be assessed on their ability to read the book, Red Gets Fed.

Reference: Red Gets Fed. Educational Insights. (1990). Auburn University.