Eh?  What’s that you say, sonny boy?

old man 


Megan O’Brien

Beginning Reading Design


Rationale:  This lesson will help children identify and recognize the phonemes in words.  It is important to focus on short vowels because they are commonly used letters in words.  It is also important to learn the different sounds the letter E makes.  This lesson will help children identify e = /e/ in words.  Students will learn to recognize /e/ in spoken and written words by learning a meaningful representation.  It is important, in reading, for children to understand the short /e/ sound.  The children will develop a grapheme-phoneme correspondence for the phoneme /e/ through gestures, tongue-twisters, letterbox lesson, listening, and reading a decodable book.



Elkonin boxes for teacher and each student

Letterbox plastic letters for teacher (e, h, s, n, m, t, b, d, a, l, and g)

Bags containing the plastic letters for students (e, h, n, m, t, b, d, a, l, and g)

"The Elephant Eddie Gets Everything Messy" chart

Cards with the words: hen, met, bed, ant, belt, and leg


A copy of the book Elf in the Tent by Geri Murray (Genie Collection, 2007) for each student

Paper with short sentences containing the short vowel E

Sentences:  Get my red hat; The cat is wet; The elk has a belt; The hen has a bed. 



     1.  Say:  There are five important letters in the alphabet called vowels.  Each vowel makes two different sounds.  It is difficult, but, very important to remember the different sounds a letter makes.  Today, we are going to focus on the short E sound.  Does anybody know what sound the letter /e/ makes?  The short E makes an /e/ sound.  The /e/ sound reminds me of a person that can’t hear what you’re saying and they may put their hand up to their ear and say, "Eh?  What did you say, sonny boy?". 


     2.  Let’s pretend like we can’t hear what somebody is saying, /e/, /e/, /e/. (Have the students cup their hand around their ear to imitate a person trying to hear someone speaking).    When you make the /e/ sound you open your mouth and the top of your tongue presses against the top of your mouth.  Everybody, let’s make the /e/ sound together.    


     3.  Let’s try and say some words to see if we hear the /e/ sound.  When I say the word, I am going to stretch the word out very slowly so you can listen and see if you hear the /e/ sound.  Listen carefully, bbbeeet.  Did you hear the /e/ sound in the word bet?  That’s right!  In the middle of the word bet, my tongue pressed against the top of my mouth so I could make the /e/ sound. 


     4.  Let’s practice saying a tongue twister to help us identify words that have the short /e/ sound (chart).  I am going to say the sentence first, and then I want everybody to say it with me.  "The Elephant Eddie Gets Everything Messy".  Now, let’s say it together and we are going to say all of the short E’s very slowly like we are asking someone what they said.  "The Eeeleeephant Eeedie Geeets Eeeverything Meeessy".  Great job!  What words did you hear the /e/ sound in? (Elephant, Eddie, Gets, Everything, and Messy).  That’s right, all of those words had the short /e/ sound. 


     5.  Give the children elkonin boxes and letters ( I will have the letters separated in bags so that each child will have to get one letter from each bag).  Say:  Now we are going to practice spelling words in letterboxes.  With the letterboxes, we are going to break a word into the different sounds and put the letter the sound makes in each box.  I am going to spell the word nest (I will have elkonin boxes displayed on a projector so that the students can watch me model the first word).  First, I am going to sound out the word nest, /n/, /e/, /s/, /t/.  There are four sounds in the word nest!  Since, there is four sounds, I will need to use four elkonin boxes – one for each sound.  The first sound is /n/, so I need to put the letter N in the first box.  The next sound is the /e/ sound, which reminds me of the person cupping their hand around their ear, trying to hear; so, I know the letter E goes in the second box.  The next sound is /s/, so I need to put the letter S in the third box.  The last sound is /t/, so I need to put the letter T in the fourth box.  Now, I want you to try and spell the word hen in your letterboxes.  Let’s sound out the word hen, and remember to listen for the /e/ sound, /h/, /e/, /n/.  How many sounds are in the word hen?  Good!  There is three sounds in the word hen, so you need three letterboxes.  (I will then ask the students to spell the rest of the words for the letterbox lesson, the words are as follows: met (3), bed (3), ant (3), belt (4), and leg (3)). 


     6.  I am going to put some words on the projector for us to read together.  Some of the words we are going to read now and some of the words we are going to read in a book have the short /a/ sound.  Who can remember the sound the short /a/ makes?  That’s right, the short A makes the /a/ sound, which sounds like a crying baby.  (I will use the same words I used in the letterbox lesson, so the students can practice reading the words). 


     7.  I will give each student a copy of Elf in the Tent by Geri Murray.  I will first give a book talk before reading.  Book talk:  Elf in the Tent  is a story about a girl named Jan.  One day, Jan’s friends, Ben and Jess, send her a tent.  Jan packs her tent and everything she needs to go camping into the van, and her and her dad set off for the great outdoors.  Jan and her Dad have no idea that when they packed the van, their pet cat, Elf, jumped in the van and hid in the box of camping supplies.  Will Jan and her dad find out Elf has come along to go camping?  We will have to read the book to find out what happens!  I will ask the students to read along with me and cup their hands around their ears each time they hear the short /e/ sound. 


     8.  I will assess the students knowledge by having them read short sentences that contain the short /e/ sound.  The sentences include:  Get my red hat; The cat is wet; The elk has a belt;  The hen has a bed. 



Hayle Lipham.  Reading Genie Website.  Eddie’s Creaky Door.

Decodable Book: 

Elf in the Tent by Geri Murray (Genie Collection, 2007)

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