Red Headed Ellie Puts an Egg in Her Belly

Beginning Reading: Short vowel, e

By: Lauren Leach


Rationale: It is important that students learn to crack the alphabetic code by learning to decode and blend the letters they see in written words. Students must first understand that each written letter (grapheme) has a sound that is vocalized (phoneme). In this lesson, students will learn the short vowel e correspondence, e=/e/. They will learn the correspondence through a tongue twister, group letter box lesson, and a gesture.


-White board & Marker

-Primary Paper & Pencils*

-Letter Tiles: e, d, r, g(2),  f, n, c, w, t , k, s, l, h, p and b*

-Letter boxes*

-Red Gets Fed; Phonics Reader*

-Flashcards with the following words written:

       egg, red, den, fed, ten, check, wreck, bend slept,

-Short e worksheets*

-1/2 size poster with creaky door and phoneme/grapheme

-1/2 size poster with tongue twister on it

*=Indicates # of supplies needed for every student.

Procedure:  1. I will begin the lesson by writing the letter e on the white board. Boys and girls, what letter is this? This is an e and today, we are going to hear e make the creaky door sound! Say /e/ and show picture of creaky door. We are going to pretend like we are opening this creaky door whenever we hear the /e/ sound! Every time we hear it, I want you to open the imaginary creaky door like this… I will model opening creaky door and say, /e/.  Great! Now, I am going to say some words that have the /e/ sound in them, and I want you to practice opening the creaky door! E-e-e-e-g-g; d-e-e-e-e-e-n; b-e-e-e-e-n-d

2.   I will then show them the tongue twister. I will read the tongue twister aloud, Redheaded Ellie puts an egg in her belly after getting out of bed at ten. Now, I want you to try it and every time you hear the /e/ sound, open the creaky door!  Students repeat the tongue twister while using the gesture. I will also ask the students if they hear /e/ in the following words:  set or sat? Rod or red? Bent or burnt? Pet or pat?

3.   If students still do not understand the /e/, we will practice more by writing the words on the board and underlining the  e in each word. We will stretch the word, then reread them normally.

4.   We will then begin practicing writing the letter e. I will pass out primary paper and pencils to each student. Model writing letters while saying:  Let’s write the capital E by drawing a straight line from the rooftop all the way down to the sidewalk. Next, draw three lines across: one at the rooftop, one at the fence, and one at the sidewalk. Great job! Now, we are going to draw the lower case e. We will start by drawing a short line between the fence and sidewalk. We will then loop up to the fence, and curve all the way down to the sidewalk.  Practice writing the letters. Put a star by your very best capital and lower case E’s! Walk by and check student progress.

5.   Next, hand out the letter boxes and letter tiles e, d, r, g(2),  f, n, c, w, t , k, s, l, h, p and b for the letterbox lesson. Pretend—glue your boxes to your desks. We are going to spell some words in our letterboxes. For this game, you will put each sound in a box. For example, if I want to spell the word, hen,  I will put the /h/ in the first box, the /e/ in the second box, and the /n/ in the third box. Now, let’s practice with the word, (then). Since /th/ makes one sound, which box will we put them in? Good, the first box. Finish example words and then ask students to spell the following words: egg (2 phonemes), red (3 phon), den(3 phon), fed (3 phon), ten(3 phon), check (3 phon), wreck(3 phon), bend (4 phon), slept (5 phon). Use each word in a sentence so that students understand the context of the word. Ask students to first think of how many sounds are in each sound, then lay out that many boxes before spelling the words. After students have spelled all the words, write the words on the board and ask the students to reread the words they have spelled.

6.   Introduce decodable book, Red Gets Fed. Book talk: Red is Meg’s dog who begs to be fed. Who will feed Red? Will Red get fed? We’ll have to read the book to find out!  After reading aloud, students will break into reading buddies and reread the book. They will use the opening door gesture when they hear the /e/ in words.

7.   I will then pass out the worksheets as a means of assessment. Given a word bank, students will write and match the word to the picture, practicing the short e vowel.



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

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

Keasal, Lauren. Ed the Elephant Went to Fetch the Elk
- worksheet

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