Listen up!

Natalie Wingard


Rational: To learn to read and spell words children need the alphabetic approaching to know what letters stand for (phonemes) and that spelling them out they can see the phonemes in words. Before they can match the phonemes and letters they need to recognize phonemes in spoken words. Short vowels are the hardest for children to learn most of the time. This lesson will help children identify /e/ (short e). They will learn to recognize /e/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation and a letter symbol, and then practice finding the /e/ in words.


1) Primary paper and pencil, chart with “Everyone saw Eddie and the Eskimo enter the elevator on the elephant”
2) Primary paper and pencils for each child
3) Chart with the tongue twister—"Everyone saw Eddie and the Eskimo enter the elevator on the elephant"—written on it.
4) Copies of Red Gets Fed for each student (Educational Insights)
5) Chalk
6) Handout with pictures of the color red, eggs, a web, the number ten, and a nest (also include pictures of words without the e = /e/ correspondence)

Procedures: 1. Introduce the lesson. Explain to the students that they are going to learn about the letter e and its corresponding sound. Write the letter e on the board.  "Good morning boys and girls! Today we are going to learn about the letter e and the sound it makes; e says /e/.  The letter e is a vowel that we see in many words and that makes it a very special letter. Does anyone know why the letter e is so important?  We find the letter e in so many words like red, nest, ten, and smell.  Today, we are going to learn how to spell and read words that have an e that makes the sound /e/."

2. Show children a gesture for remembering e = /e/.  "Has anyone ever been trying to talk to someone that is far away, like outside or in another room? Well, I have too, and sometimes I have a hard time hearing them that far away. Have you ever had a hard time hearing someone? What do you do to try to hear them better? Well, I usually cup my hand behind my ear and say /e/ (model the gesture for the class). Have you ever done that? Of course you have! I want everyone to do that together. I am going to say something really low and if you can’t hear me cup your hand behind your ear and say /e/. (Pretend to say something really low.) Good! Perfect! Well that just happens to be the exact sound the letter e makes. So every time you hear the /e/ sound I want you to cup your hand behind your ear. Okay. Is everybody ready to start? I am going to read a tongue twister so you can practice.”

3. Direct the children’s attention to the tongue-twister chart. First, model it for them. Read the tongue twister aloud and make the hand gesture every time you hear /e/. Then have them practice saying it with you a couple of times. Remember to stretch the /e/. Remind them to make their hand gesture when they hear /e/.  "Now we are going to practice the /e/ sound by saying a really goofy tongue twister together.  I am going to read it once to you and then you say it with me. Remember to cup your hand behind your ear every time you hear /e/. Eeeeveryone saw Eeeeddie and the Eeeeskimo enter the eeeelevator on the eeeelephant.Perfect! Now let's say it again, but this time, I want you to really stretch out the /e/ in each word.  Eeeeveryone saw Eeeeddie and the Eeeeskimo enter the eeeelevator on the eeeelephant. Did everyone hear the /e/ sound?  Great!"

4. Have students take out pencil and primary paper. We can use letter e to spell /e/. Let’s write it. Get in the center of the space below the fence, go toward the door [right], up to touch the fence, around and up. After I put a smile on it, I want you to make 9 more just like it. When you see letter e all by itself in a word, that’s the signal to say /e/.

5. Practice finding /e/ in spoken words.  "Before we do our tongue twister, I want you to practice finding /e/ in spoken words. Listen carefully to the words I say. Do you hear /e/ in eggs or apple? Eeeeegg or Aaaaapplle..Eegg or Aapple…oh Egg!!…. In help or hurt? Ten or eleven ? In bet or boy? In best or slow? Wonderful!"

6. Hand out copies of Red Gets Fed to each student. Give a brief book talk.  "It is time now for the really fun part! You are actually going to read a book all on your own! Today we are going to read Red Gets Fed. Red is Meg’s dog and he gets hungry, but Meg is sleeping. Red goes into Meg’s room and begs for her to get up and fed him. So finally Meg does get up and fed Red. Well, there is one problem. Red is still hungry after eating what Meg fed him so now he goes to dad’s room, but dad is sound asleep. To find out if Red gets fed again, you’ll have to listen carefully to me read this book to you.” 

8. Pass out the picture handout and help the students identify them.  "Everyone look at the picture handout.  Let's see if we can help one another identify the pictures."  The teacher should walk around the room and make sure each child identifies the pictures.

9. Have each student write a message while other students are being called to the teacher's desk.  "I am going to pass out the primary paper and you will need a pencil. I want you to think about a food that you really, really like to eat just like Red who loved his dog food. After you’ve thought about it, write a message about what it is and why you like it so much.”

Assessment: For assessment, each child should individually come up to the teacher's desk.  Each child should bring the picture handout and a pencil. According to the teacher’s instructions, each student should be assessed on the understanding that e = /e/.  The teacher should say, "I want you to circle all of the pictures that show words containing /e/.  Then, I want you to look at the pictures that you’ve circled and choose one word that you would like to write. For example, you would write red for this picture (pointing to the picture of the color red)." Be sure to provide primary paper. The teacher should grade each child according to their ability to identify the pictures representing words with /e/, as well as their ability to recognize and write a word that includes the letter e.

References: 1. Red Gets Fed. Educational Insights, 1990.
2. Eldredge, J. Lloyd, Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms. Upper Saddle River, NJ. 1995.
3. Murray, B.A., & Lesniak, T. (1999). The Letterbox Lesson: A hands-on approach for teaching decoding. The Reading Teacher, 52, 644-650
4. Jennifer Adams, Jack the Fat Cat 

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