Meet Lee, the Sleepy Bee
Beginning Reading
Lyndsay York

Rationale: In order for children to read and spell words they need to understand that letters stand for phonemes and spellings map out the phonemes in spoken words.  A way to help children understand this is by practicing correspondences, which is made of a grapheme and a phoneme.  In this lesson the students will learn the correspondence ee=/E/.  First I think we should review the correspondence e=/E/ and then learn that ee=/E/ makes the same sound.  By the end of this lesson my students should be able to pronounce and identify the ee=/E/ correspondence in words.

Materials: Elkonin letterboxes and letterbox letters (ee, n, d, w, k, s, b, f, r, l, tt) for each child, chalkboard, chalk, Lee and the Team books for each child, primary writing paper, and a pencil, worksheet with sentences on it containing the ee=/E/ correspondence

1. Start by reviewing the e=/E/ correspondence to review the long E sound.  Have students think of words that make the long E sound.  (Hopefully while the students are naming words maybe one of them will have the ee=/E/ correspondence.)
2. Next discuss the long /E/ sound.  Explain to them that there is more than one way to make the long /E/ sound.  Now go back to the words that are on the board and pick out a word that has the ee=/E/ correspondence.  (If one is not up there write a few words that have this correspondence.)  Go through the words and circle the ee letters to show that this grapheme makes the long /E/ sound.
3. "Now I am going to say a fun tongue twister and I want you to listen for the long /E/ sound. "Meet Lee, the sleepy bee, who sleeps for three weeks." Now I am going to write the tongue twister on the board and as I say and write each word listen for the long /E/ sound.  Now let's say the tongue twister as a class.  Raise your hand if you hear any words with the long /E/ sound."  Call on each student one at a time and circle the part of the word that makes this sound.
4. "Now let's say the tongue twister and drag out the sound that makes the long /E/ sound. "Meeeet, Leeeee, the sleeeepy beeeee, who sleeeeps for threeee weeeeks."  Very good boys and girls notice how the ee makes the long /E/ sound just like e makes the long /E/ sound.
5. Draw the letterboxes on the chalkboard so that the whole class can see the first few examples.  Ask the students "If two letters make one sound then do they go in one box or two? Correct the answer is one.  Watch me do a few examples.  Let's try beep.  You need one letterbox for b, one letterbox for ee, and one letterbox for p.  So even though there are two letters in box two they only make one sound.
6. "Now I am going to call out a few words and you make your own words in your letterboxes. First you need to get out the letters e,e, n, d, w, k, s, b, f, r, l, t,t.  Now I am going to write a word on the board and I want you to use your letterboxes to spell the words.  (Call out one word at a time and walk around the room to check and see if the students are doing this correctly) The words are (2 letterboxes)see and bee,(3 letterboxes) need, week, and free,(4 letterboxes) fleet,(5 letterboxes) street. Make sure that the students know when to add a letterbox.
7. "Now we are going to read a book called Lee and the Team.  This is a story about a boy named Lee that goes to play a baseball game with his friends, but the rest of the team is being lazy.  Lee is very frustrated until a bee comes along so let's find out what happens.  I will assign you a partner to buddy read with and after you read I would like for you to make a list of the words that have the ee=/E/ sound in them.  So you will need your book, primary writing paper, and a pencil."  ( I will pair up some of the higher leveled readers with the struggling readers)  The teacher may walk around the room and listen to the children read aloud to each other.
8. For assessment I will pass out a worksheet that has a sentence containing the ee=/E/ correspondence.  For example, The bees live deep in the tree.  Have the students circle the ee=/E/ correspondence.  Then have the students make up at least two other words that have the ee=/E/ correspondence in them.  Then use some of these words and ask the students do they hear /E/ in bee or live? Beep or honk? Tree or trunk?  I will also have some pictures of these words and they will match these words to the correct picture.


Murray, B.A., & Lesniak, T. (1999). The letterbox lesson: A hands-on approach for teaching decoding. The Reading Teacher, 52, p. 644-650.

(1990). Phonics Reader Long Vowel Lee and the Team.Carson, CA (USA), St Albans, Herts. (UK): Educational Insights.

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