The Old Creaky Door


Beginning Reading

Leah Rockwell



In order for students to be successful readers, it is important that they are phonemically aware. To be phonemically aware, they must have an understanding of the short vowel sounds. .  In this lesson, students will learn the correspondence e = /e/.  Students will review the e = /e/ sound and practice spelling and reading words with the /e/ sound.


  1. Chart with tongue twister “Everybody saw Eddie and the Eskimo enter the elevator on the elephant.”
  2. Primary paper for each student (2 sheets per student)
  3. Pencils for each student
  4. Chalk and board for teacher
  5. Class set of Elkonin boxes
  6. Class set of letter manipulatives (r,e,d,b,g,f,t,n,t,s,l,p)
  7. Teacher’s Elkonin boxes and letters
  8. Overhead Projector
  9. Class set of Red Gets Fed
  10. Worksheet for assessment  


  1. Introduce the lesson: “Today we are going to learn about the sound that short e makes.  Tell the students that our mouth moves in different ways when we say different letters.  We are going to be able to know how our mouth moves when we see an e in a book.”
  2. Has anyone ever been to an old house and heard the door creak open?  When I hear the old door creak, I hear /e/.  Let’s all pull the creaky door open and hear the /e/.  Do you feel the way your mouth moves when you open the creaky door?  You just open you mouth slightly and your tongue sits on the bottom. 
  3. Let’s try a tongue twister (on chart) using the /e/ sound.  (Model first).  “Everybody saw Eddie and the Eskimo enter the elevator on the elephant.”  Now lets say it three times together. Good job!  Let’s say it a little different.  When we hear /e/ stretch it out and pull the creaky door open.  Eeeveeeeerybody saw Eeeeeddieeeee and the Eeeeeeskimo eeeeenter the eeeeeleeeevator on the eeeeeleeeephant.
  4. You are going to try to find the /e/ sound in a few words.  I’m going to say some words, and tell me which word has the /e/ sound!  Raise your hand if you know which word it is.  For example, If I say bed or floor, I will choose bed because I hear the creaky door.  Are you ready?  Do you hear the /e/ sound in:
    bag or beg? 
    pig or peg? 
    arm or leg? 
    blue or red?
  5. Hand out primary paper to the students and have them get pencils out. Tell the students, we can use the letter e to spell the mouth move /e/.  Now we are going to write the letter e.  Start halfway between the fence and the sidewalk.  Draw a straight line towards the right window and curve up and touch the fence.  Go towards the left window and draw a curve down to the sidewalk.  Go towards the right window with a little curve.  You should finish halfway between where you started the e and the sidewalk.”  (I will model it for the class.)  “I want to come around and see everyone’s excellent letter e.  When I stamp it with a smiley face, then I want you to make six more just like it. 
  6. Now we are going to work on spelling some words with e=/e/.  We are going to use letterboxes.  Each box stands for a different mouth move.  I am going to show you how to use these boxes.  I am going to use a word with 3 mouth moves.  How many boxes should I have?  Good I should have 3.  (Demonstrate using overhead projector so everyone can see).  I am going to spell the word /r/ /e/ /d/.  The first sound I hear is /r/, so I am going to put an r.  Then I hear that creaky door /e/, so I am going to put an e.  The last thing I hear is /d/, so I am going to put a d in the last box.  Now I want you to practice spelling some words.  (Teacher will monitor spellings).  The words include 2-[Ed], 3-[beg, fed, get,], 4-[bent, test] 5-[slept, blend, trend].  After spelling the words the teacher will put the spelled words (without letterboxes) on the overhead projector so the students can read the words.  Teacher will demonstrate reading the words and then have students read the words all together.  “Let me show you how to read a word.  Let’s look at this word. (Put the word step on the board).  I see that creaky door /e/.  (Cover up the p and show the student ste).  Now we have /ste/.  Let’s look at the last letter.  (Uncover p). We have a /p/.  /ste/ /p/.  Good /step/.” 
  7. To help apply this lesson read Red Gets Fed and give the class a brief book talk.  Tell them: Red is a dog who is very hungry and sneaky.  Red goes around the house trying to wake up Meg and other family members in order to get some breakfast.  Do you think that Red will get fed?  When reading the story and talking about it remind the students of the /e/ phoneme that is presented.  Then read it again and have the students raise their hands when they hear words with the sound /e/ in them.  Then after reading have the students try to remember the words with the /e/ phoneme by asking them: what are some of the words in the book that you all raised your hand to?  When I call on them and they answer I will write them on the board.  Go back through book to see if any are left out. 
  8. After reading the students will write a message about their favorite pet or a pet that they wish they had. 
  9. For an assessment, you can have a picture sheet with lots of different pictures using different sounds and have the students circle the pictures with the /e/ sound in their name. For example, bed, lion, giraffe, hat, elephant, exit, box, etc. 



Cushman, Sheila. Red Gets Fed. Educational Insights: Carson, CA. 1990.  

Murray, Bruce.  Wallach and Wallach’s Tongue Twisters.

Murray, Bruce. Mouth Moves and Gestures for Phonemes.

Rockwell, Lauren. /e/ it must be old.

Britton, Kristen. Ellen’s Elephants.

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