Elizabeth Brinkley

Spotting Hidden Vowels

Emergent Literacy Design

Elizabeth Brinkley


Rationale:  To learn to read and spell words, children need the alphabetic insight that letters stand for phonemes and spellings map out the phonemes in spoken words. Before children can match letters to phonemes, they have to recognize phonemes in spoken word contexts. Short vowels are probably the toughest phonemes to identify. This lesson will help children identify /i/ (short i). They will learn to recognize /i/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation and a letter symbol, and then practice finding /i/ in words.

Primary paper and pencil; chart with “Jill and Liz sit still while their big sister is mixing milk into her coffee“; drawing paper and crayons; Liz Is Six (Educational Insights); a picture of a large eye on a stick (enough for all the children and myself), picture page that illustrates the following words:  big, bag, sip, six, jig, bit, hit, rig, drip, tip, nit, wig, wag.


1. Introduce the lesson by explaining that our written language is a secret code. The tricky part is learning what letters stand for—the mouth moves we make as we say words. Today we're going to work on spotting the mouth move /i/.  At first /i/ will seem hidden in words, but as you get to know it, you'll be able to spot /i/ in all kinds of words.

2. Ask students: Did you ever hear /i/? Can you help me spot /i/ different words?  That's the mouth move we're looking for in words. Let's hold up the eye when we spot /i/ (give each child one).  We hold the eye up to show that we have spotted the hidden /i/.  Then say words with /i/ and without /i/ such as:  fix, box, flip, flop, film, spit, spin, spun, bin, bun.    

3. Let's try a tongue twister [on chart]. "Uncle was upset because he was unable to put his umbrella up." Everybody say it three times together. Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /i/ at the beginning of the words. “Jiiill and Liiizz siiit stiill while their biiig siiister iiis miiixing miiilk iiinto her coffee.”  Try it again, and this time break it off the word:  “J /i/ ll and L /i/ z s /i/ t st /i/ ll while their b /i/ g s /i/ ster /i/ s m /i/ xing m /i/ lk /i/ nto her coffee.”

4. [Have students take out primary paper and pencil]. We can use letter i to spell /i/. Let's write it. Start at the fence.  Without lifting your pencil, draw straight down and end at the sidewalk.  Now give him a feather.  I want to see everybody's i. After I put a feather on it, I want you to make nine more just like it. When you see letter i all by itself in a word, that's the signal to say /i/.

5. Let me show you how to find /i/ in the word split.  I'm going to stretch split out in super slow motion.  S-p-l-i-t.  S-p-i-i-i…  There it is!  I do hear /i/ in split?

6. Call on students to answer and tell how they knew: Do you hear /i/ in mix or match? sit or stand? Skip or run? In or out? Splish or splash? [Pass out a card to each student.] Say: Let's see if you can spot the mouth move /i/ in some words.

7. Say: “Liz gets a mitt when she turns six.  Liz and pig play ball with the mitt.  Liz hit’s the ball to pig.  Can Pig get the ball when Liz hits it?“  Read Liz Is Six and talk about the story. Read it again, and have students raise their hands when they hear words with /i/. List their words on the board. Then have each student draw a Liz and pig with the mitt and write a message about it using invented spelling. Display their work.

8. For assessment, distribute the picture page and help students name each picture. Ask each student to circle the pictures whose names have /i/. 

The Reading Genie
.  http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/letters.html

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