Ed the Elephant Went to Fetch the Elk


Beginning Reading

By: Lauren Keasal

Rationale: Phonemes are important for children to be able to recognize in words because it helps them break up words into sounds and then dictate those sounds onto paper. Vowels, such as short e, are sometimes more difficult for children to hear. This is because, "Children can feel the production of consonants in the mouth; making the sounds stop the air flow" (Pinnell, 1998, pp. 79) but vowels make it harder to feel the air flow. This lesson will help students learn to recognize the short e sound, e=/e/ through a tongue twister, gesture and a group letter box lesson.

Materials: (Enough for each child=*) Dry Erase Board, Pencils*, Dry Erase Marker, Letter Manipulatives*(e ,a ,d ,r ,p ,t (2), k, s, l, h, p and b), Flash Cards(net, elk, pan, pet, kept, sled, tent, help, blend, slept), Book: Red Gets Fed* (Cushman, Shelia. Carson,CA. Education Insights. 1990. Pp.1-9), Tongue Twister Chart (Ed the Elephant Went to Fetch the Elk), Primary Paper*, Elkonin Boxes*, and Creaky Door /e/ Worksheets*. 


1. I will start the lesson by writing the letter "e" on the dry erase board. I will ask: What letter is this? Do you know what sound this letter makes? Good! "e" makes the sound /e/, like an old creaky door eeee (Modeling opening a door while saying the sound). Here is an example using the creaky door "e" sound: R-e-e-e-e-d. (Model the creaky door opening, stretching the /e/ sound).

2. Take out the chart with the tongue twister on it. I'll read it and you make sure to listen for the /e/ sound. "Ed the elephant went to fetch the elk". Let's try using the creaky door "e" together in the tongue twister. Make sure to listen for the /e/sound! "Ed the elephant went to fetch the elk". Great! Now let's stretch creaky door "e" in the tongue twister. Make sure you open the door when you hear the /e/sound. "E-e-e-e-d the e-e-e-lephant we-e-e-e-ent to fe-e-e-e-tch the e-e-elk." Excellent!


3. To see if the student are able to hear the /e/ sound in various words, I will ask a series of question and see if they answer correctly. Do you hear the creaky door "e", /e/, in : pet or pat? Hand or head? Lock or ready? Best or last? If any of the students have trouble with any of these you can help them by sounding the word out and write them on the dry erase board. I will then let the students think of some words they hear the creaky door "e", /e/, in. We will sound each of the words out using the creaky door "e", /e/, and write them on the dry erase board so we can see the "e" in the word.

4. Now we will take out primary paper and practice writing the letter "e". Okay, let's practice writing the letter "e". First we will write an upper-case "E". Begin at the hat line and draw straight down to the shoe line. Next draw three lines, one along the hat line, on along the belt line and one along the shoe line. Then we will write a lower-case "e". Start between the belt and shoe line, loop up to the belt line and around back down towards the shoe line. We will write it together multiple times (about 7, unless they have trouble). Every one circle your best upper- and lower- case letters and wait for the teacher to come and check your paper off. 

5. Next, use the Elkonin boxes to do a Letter Box Lesson. Give the letter boxes to each of the students and have them lay out the number of boxes you will need them to use. Make sure the students' boxes are laying completely flat for them to work on.  Also provide the students only the letters they will be using in the lesson (if you are suing double sided letters use the lower-case side). The letters that they will need are: e, a, n, d, r, p, t (2), k, s, l, h, p, and b. First, you the teacher, will model using the letter boxes and letters, explaining how to use the boxes in case the child is not familiar. Today we are going to use the letter boxes to spell some words. Each box stands for a sound you hear in the word. I will show you a word fist so that you can see how I do it. My word will be "lept", as in, "I lept into bed". Now I will model how the Letter Box Lesson (LBL) works. Let's do another word, how about the word "slept" as in "I slept in my bed last night". Fist I hear /s/, what letter makes that sound? So "s" goes in the first letter box because it is the first sound you hear. Then I hear /l/, what letter makes that sound? So "l" would go in the next letter box because it is the second sound. Now I hear /e/ next, what letter is that? Good! "e" is the third sound we hear so we put it in the third letter box. What is the next sound we hear? /p/, good job! So what letter is that? "p", okay so we put that in the fourth letter box. Now what is the last sound that we hear in "slept"? /t/, excellent! So what letter goes in the last letter box? "t" great!  Now I want to see if you can do a couple of words by yourself!

6. The words I will use are listed by the number of phonemes: 3-(net, pet, pan (review word)), 4- (kept, sled, tent, help), 5-(blend).  Give the students a sentence using the word they will be spelling before they begin each time, and then repeat the word again.

a. Now I want you to spell "net" in your letter boxes using your letters. Can someone tell me how many boxes we need to spell "net"? Good job! We need three boxes because there are three sounds in the word "net".

b. Continue with the letter box lesson asking the children to spell pet, pan (review word), kept, sled, tent, help, and blend.

c. After completion of spelling the words, write each word on the board having the student read it out loud.

d. The teacher should continually be monitoring the students' progress by walking around the room and looking at what they are doing. If a student has trouble or misspells a word, repeat it to them how they spelled it in the boxes, seeing if they can find what is wrong and self-correct.  If they are still having trouble with the word, show them the word in the correct form and then move on to the next word in the series and come back later.

7. Introduce the decodable book: Red Gets Fed. We are going to read Red Gets Fed. In this book there is a dog named Red and he always bothers his owners when they are busy, but he is always hungry. Do you think they will feed him? Well, I guess we will have to read to find out! Everyone will then break into groups of two and take turns reading the book to each other. Ask the students to make sure they open the creaky door when they hear the /e/ sound in the story.

8. For an assessment, pass out worksheets for the children to work on. The worksheet will have six pictures on it of different objects. The student will have to circle the word that matches the picture and has a creaky door "e" in its name. Such pictures will include an egg, vest, elephant, jet, lemon and net.


Pegues, Jennifer. "Picky Pig". http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/guides/careybr.html

Col, Jeananda. Enchanted Learning: Short E Words. http://www.enchantedlearning.com/alaphabet/matchwordsandpix/shorte/

Murray, B.A., and Lesnaik, T. (1999). The Letterbox Lesson: A hands on approach for teaching decoding. The Reading Teacher, 52, 644-650.

Pinnell, G.S. and Fountas, I. Word Matters: Teaching Phonics and Spelling in the Reading/Writing Classroom. Portsmouth, NH. Heinemann. 1998. Pp. 79, 306.

Red Gets Fed. Carson, CA. Educational Insights. 1990. Pp.1-9.

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