Beginning Reading - Short 'e'

Leslie S. O'Neal

I. Rationale:
"Before children can acquire a productive understanding of the significance of words and letters, they must acquire an awareness of their spoken correspondences, words and phonemes" (Adams 1990 p. 56).  "Several researchers have suggested that the key to the development of word awareness may lie in children's exposure to print" (Adams 56).  Functional understanding of the alphabetic principle depends equally on knowledge of letters and on explicit awareness of phonemes because it depends so closely on the association between them (Adams 54).  Short vowels are very difficult to distinguish due to the fact that the shape of the mouth and the sounds made between the vowels vary ever so slightly.  This lesson will help students recognize /e/ (short e).  Students will recognize short'e' in written words and will also identify short'e' in certain words and pseudowords, when asked.

II. Materials:
Primary Paper/pencil, Primary lines drawn on board, Poster with "Ben will spend his money on seven pens and pretend that he is eleven."  Poster with short 'e' words, short 'e' phonics book called Pen Pals (enough copies for the class), worksheet with short 'e' pictures and the words for students to match to the pictures.

III. Procedures:
1) First, I just want you to know that writing is a secret code.  It's not always easy to know what letter to write down to represent a sound in a word we are trying to spell.  We can only get better at our letters with practice so today we're going to work with short 'e'.  It says 'eh' like in the words expensive or elephant; can you say 'eh' with me?  Once again, let's just say the sound 'eh'.  Notice that you just have to open your mouth just a little bit and your tongue gets to be lazy and sit on the bottom of your mouth.

2) Now I would like you to watch as I take four steps to write the lower case letter 'e' on the board.  First, you get in the center of the space below the fence, go toward the door, up to touch the fence, around and up.  Now I would like each of you to practice on your paper writing the lowercase 'e' five times in your very best handwriting.  I want you to be able to recognize this 'e' because we are going to be reading many words that have the 'eh' sound in them today and they are spelled with 'e'.

3) Now that everyone's through I'd like all eyes on the poster up here at the front, I'm going to say our tongue twister one time and then we are all going to say it together.  "Ben will spend his money on seven pens and pretend that he is eleven."  Let's try our tongue twister now, we'll go slowly the first time and then we'll try to go faster a second time.  Now lets try to separate the words that have short 'e' in them and really emphasize the 'eh' sound in the words that have it.  "Behn will spehnd his money on sehvehn pens and prehtehnd that he is ehlehvehn."  Great job, now I'm not going to say it with you and I want to see how you do by yourselves.  Excellent, I think you are really starting to understand how short 'e' works!

4) Now I have some words written on this poster using the short 'e' and I want us to go through them slowly as a class, making sure to say all of the sounds that are in the words.

5) We're going to read Pen Pals now.  This story is about a baby named Ben and his cat named Ted.  They want to play together and they can't reach one another through the playpen.  Now you can pick a partner and take turns reading to one another, and remember when someone else is reading you follow along with your finger so you can see the words that they are saying and so you can know when it's your turn to read.

6) Now I would like you to listen to some words and write down which word you think has short 'e' in it, out of the two words I say.  I'll wait until all pencils are down before I move onto the next one; just try to spell the best you can.  Is the short 'e' in egg or pan?  Remember were listening for that 'eh' sound.  Is short 'e' in rake or bend?  Leg or back?  Foot or hen?  Tap or rent?

IV. Evaluation:
For an evaluation of their learning I would collect their writings of the 'e' words and practice e's.  And I would also have them complete a worksheet where they draw lines from the picture to the word that matches it, using the words:  leg, pen, net, hen, sled, dress, desk

V. Reference:
Adams, Marilyn Jager.  Learning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print.  A Summary prepared by: Steven A. Stahl, Jean Osborn, and Fran Lehr.  p 54 &56.  1990.  (Book Resource for beginning quotes) Short 'e' word and picture ideas

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