Did you say Elephant?


Amanda Godbee

Beginning Reader Design


In order to become better readers and decoders, children need to understand that letters represent vocal gestures or phonemes. In order to develop an understanding of words and letters, children need to learn correspondences. This lesson will help students identify the correspondence e=/e/ (short e). The lesson will develop the student's awareness of e=/e/, by giving them instruction and practice on how to form the short e sound, as well as practice reading decodable text containing the short e sound. The students will receive instruction in the decoding of short e words, as well as practicing spelling the words themselves.


Dry Erase Board

Letter Manipulatives (e s t f l d r m n p b g h t)

Book: Red Gets Fed

Tongue Twister Chart (Everybody saw Eddie and the Eskimo enter the elevator on the elephant) written on board

Primary Paper


Elkonin Boxes

Short e Worksheets (attached) 

Picture of grandma with hand upped over her ear, saying eh?


1.Today we are going to learn more about the letter e and one of the sounds this letter can make. Sometime e makes the sound /e/. We read a lot of words everyday that have the /e/ sound in them. It reminds me of the sounds my grandmother makes when she can't hear. She cups her hand around her ear and says 'eh?' Let's try making that sound together." Pantomime gesture and show the picture of grandma. Suggest that the group tries the gesture and sound together as well.

2.Before we can learn how to recognize the letter e and pronounce it we first need to work on writing it. Everybody get out your white boards and lets write it together [go ahead and put primary lines on the board and demonstrate writing]. Everybody follow me and listen to what I say. 'To make a little e, you should draw a short horizontal line in the center of the space below the fence, start from the left to the right, up to touch the fence, then around and up like you are making a little c.'

3.We are going to learn a new tongue twister [point to the sentence on the board] everyone lets read this together, 'Everybody saw Eddie and the Eskimo enter the elevator on the elephant.' Now I want you to practice recognizing the/e/ sound in the tongue twister. Every time you hear /e/ I want you to cup your hand behind your ear just like we did earlier. Are we ready? [Read at a slow pace allowing the student to have time to put their hands behind their ears.]'Everybody saw Eddie and the Eskimo enter the elevator on the elephant.' Great job!

4.Now, we are going to learn to spell several words with the /e/ phoneme with the help of our letter boxes. [Every student needs Elkonin Letter Boxes and letter tiles of the following letters:  e s t f l d r m n p b g h t.] Watch me as I show you how to put each phoneme in the word into separate boxes. [Use an overhead projector or draw the boxes on the board and use large magnetic letters so that all students can see the modeling.]  My word has four phonemes (sounds) so I have four boxes. My word is fresh. I will sound it out for us "f-f-r-e-e-sh," I hear /f/ at the very beginning so I know the first letter is f so I'm going to put it in the first letterbox. Next I hear the /r/ sound, so I will put and r in the second letterbox. That cupped ear 'Ehhh' is right there in the middle so I know to put an e in the third box. The /sh/ makes one mouth move so it is one phoneme and I will put /sh/ in the first box. That cupped ear 'Ehhh' is right there in the middle, put I hear a roaring r in front of it in my fourth box as sh. Any questions? Good. Now I am going to say a few words and I want each of you to stretch them out and find all of the phonemes in it. Give students 5-7 words to practice:
4 phonemes: fled, melt, shred
5 phonemes: trend, slept, blend, strength
* Make sure to walk around the room to check for accuracy and understanding. If there are problems with spelling, read to word that they spelled to them even if it is incorrect; have them retry and if they don't  spell it correctly the second time give them the answer. Always return to the words they didn't get at the end for more practice. Make sure that students read words after they are done spelling all of the words. If they cannot decode a word, show them how to do it with the letters, without the letterboxes.

5.We are going to read Red Gets Fed. In this book there is a dog named Red and he always bothers his owners for food. He will bother one of his owners for food, get it, and then move on the next owner. Do you think he will get away with convincing his owners that he needs more food? 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 cup their hand over their ears when they hear the /e/ sound in the story].

6.[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 that has /e/ in its name. Such pictures will include a vest, web, leg, pen, nest, hen, jet, lemon and a net.


Murray, Bruce.

Ebaugh, Jayme.  Creaky door e.

Murray, Bruce. Teaching Letter Recognition

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.

Worksheet created with inspiration from:

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