Eeeeeehhh! Do You Hear that Old Creaky Door Opening?

Sarah Walton

Beginning Reading

Rationale: In order for students to become fluent readers, students must understand the phoneme of each letter. It is so important that students learn not only consonants, but vowels as well. During this lesson, I will focus on teaching the short vowel correspondence e=/e/. The students will learn the e=/e/ sound through a letterbox lesson, reading words with the /e/ sound, tongue twisters, and a decodable text.   


1.      Class set of Pen Pals (enough for each student and the teacher) Written by Sheila, Cushman. Carson, Ca. 1990. Educational Insights

2.      Chart paper with tongue twister: “Ella the Elephant Enters the Elevator with her Friends, Eddie and Elbow.”

3.      Pencil for each student

4.      Primary paper for each student

5.      Letterboxes (for each student)

6.      Class set of letters for letterbox lesson so that each student has these letters: (a,e,d,j,f,r,b,s,h,g,l,m,n,p,t,w)

7.      Word list for students to spell in the letterbox lesson: 2-Ed 3-bed, red, shed, met, beg, let 4-west, flag, melt 5-slept, blend

8.      Overhead Projectctor

     White board and dry erase markers

10  Picture of door creaking and making the e=/e/ sound and hand gesture (making the “eeehhhh!” sound when pretending to open an old door)

11  Worksheet for assessment (with four questions and two words in each question to choose from. They will have to circle the correct choice to show that they know the /e/ sound)


Circle which word has the /e/ sound in it.

1.      1.  bed         couch

2.     2.  blue         red           

3.      3.  leg           shoe               

4.  4.   paint        pen           


1. Introduce the lesson: “Today, we are going to be learning about the sound that letter /e/ makes.” I will explain how the letter /e/ is a vowel and that there are many words that have the sound /e/ and letter /e/ in them. “Let’s practice saying the sound /e/ together. Now remember, it sounds a lot like a creaky old door opening and making the eeehhhhh sound.  Great job!”

2.  “Sometime’s it is hard to remember what sound goes with what letter, so I am going to teach you an easy way to remember the sound that letter /e/ makes each time you see it. Have you ever heard an old door make a creaky sound when you open it?” I will model and say, “It sounds like eeeeehhh! Let’s practice pretending to open an old creaky door together and make the eeeeeehh sound.” I will make sure that everyone is following along with me as we open our door and make the /e/ sound. When we say /e/, your mouth opens, and your tongue is behind the bottom teeth.  

3. “In order for us to be able to recognize the letter /e/ and be able to pronounce it, we must learn how to write it by practicing writing the letter /e/. Everyone get out your primary paper and pencil, so we can practice.” (I will model for them how to write the letter /e/ on my white board using a dry erase marker.) I will say, “Everyone watch how I write little /e/. I will start at the belt line in the middle, and then draw a line towards the door (right), up to touch the belt, and then pull it up and around like you are making a little c. Now you try to write the letter e. I will walk around and draw smile if you do it correctly! Once you get a smile, I want you write it 8 more times so that you will have plenty of practice!”        

4. “Now let’s try a tongue twister (on chart paper) using the /e/ sound. I will model first and read to them: “Ella the Elephant Enters the Elevator with her Friends, Eddie and Elbow. Now let’s practice saying it together a few times. (3 times at least) Great job! Now, let’s try saying it a little different this time. When we hear the /e/ sound, we are going to stretch it out and pretend like we are opening our old creaky door. Eeeeella the Eeeeeleeephant Eeeeenteeers the Eeeeeleeeevator with her Frieeends, Eeeeddie and Eeeeeelbow. Very good everyone, on stretching the /e/ sound in our tongue twister!”

5. Now I am going to read a few words that are written on my white board, and you are going to tell me which word has the /e/ sound in it. For example, if I said rug or bed I would say bed, because I hear the old creaky door opening and the /e/ sound in bed, and not in rug. If you think you know the answer, raise your hand and I will call on you to tell us the answer! Ok, now let’s begin! Do you hear /e/ in:

Red or pink?

Met or mat?

Pat or pet ?

Leg or toe?

 6. “Now we are going to do a letterbox lesson to spell words that have /e/ in them.” I will then hand each student a set of letterboxes, and the letters that are needed for this lesson (a,e,d,j,f,r,b,s,h,g,l,m,n,p,t,w). I will then explain how I am going to say a word to them, and then they have to spell that word in their letterboxes. I will model for them and do an example by saying, “Everyone look at me, while I use the overhead to show you how to do this. Let’s say I wanted to spell the word jet. The first sound we hear is /j/, so everyone find a /j/ and put it in your first letterbox. The second sound we hear is /e/ so everyone find our letter /e/ and put it in your second letterbox. The last sound we hear in jet is /t/, so everyone find the letter /t/ and put it in the third letterbox. Remember, you only need one letterbox for each sound that you hear in the word. Now I am going to have you try to spell some words on your own.” I will then read off words to them as they do each one on their own. I will also use each word in a sentence, and tell them how many letterboxes they will need for each word, so that they will know how many sounds it has in it. The words I will read off are: 2-Ed 3-bed, red, shed, met, beg, let 4-west, flag, melt 5-slept, blend. As they are doing this, I will walk around and check each student’s letterboxes. If they are not able to self correct themselves, then I will monitor spellings. Once we have finished spelling the words in our letterboxes, I will put the words on the overhead projector without the letterboxes. I will ask the students to read the words for me together, as I point to each word.

7.  We will then read the book, Pen Pals, which will help apply to the lesson. I will introduce the book by giving a book talk and saying: “This story is about a baby boy named Ben. He is in a pen (I will make sure they know this is a crib) and starts to cry because his pet Ted cannot get in the pen, and Ben cannot get out of the pen. They are both very upset. You will have to keep reading to see if Ben and his pet Ted will ever be able to get to one another.” I will pass out the books to the whole class and choose partners for everyone, so that they can read the story to one another. I will tell them to look for words that have the /e/ sound in them.

8. After reading the story, I will have the students write about their favorite pet, just like Ben’s favorite cat, Ted in the story. If someone does not have a pet, then I will have them write about their favorite animal.

9. For the individual assessment, you can pass out a worksheet that has many different pictures on it. There will be pictures whose word has the /e/ sound in it, and some pictures whose words do not have the /e/ sound in it. They will have to circle the picture that has the /e/ sound in it. For example, there may be a picture of a bed and a couch. They would have to circle the word, bed, because they hear the /e/ sound in bed, and not in couch.



Cushman, Sheila. Pen Pal. Educational Insights: Carson, CA. 1990.

Rockwell, Leah. The Old Creaky Door

Brock, Sarah Jane. Eeeehhh, What Did You Say?

Murray, Bruce. Ways to describe the Mouth Moves for Phonemes

Murray, Bruce. 4-, 5-, or 6-phoneme example words for your letterbox lesson

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