Ehhh, the Door is Opening!

Emergent Literacy

Holland Stevens


 We all want our children to learn to spell and read. In order to accomplish this we must see that written and spoken words are built by a combination of letters (and each letter makes a phoneme). The first step for a child to recognize how letters match a phoneme is in spoken words. After they are able to hear the sound that individual phonemes (letters) make, then one is able to do so in written form.  Short vowels can be tough phonemes to identify, but this lesson on /e/, short e will be helpful.  This lesson will help students recognize /e/ in spoken and written words.  We will also learn symbol of /e/ that will help us remember its sound when we come across an e while reading or talking.



Silly Sentence Chart: “Everybody saw Eskimo Eddie enter the elevator on an elephant.” Primary paper and pencil, drawing paper and crayons, Text: Ben’s Pen Pals, 3x5 picture cards index cards with pen, step, pet, sat, left, will, tell, jet,



1.  Our written language is tricky and sometimes difficult to understand. The hardest part is to figure out what each letter stands for. Today we are focusing on the mouth movement for /e/. We may not see /e/ to begin with, but after some practice we will get better at spotting /e/ in spoken and then written words.


2. Ask students, “Have you ever heard someone open a door and all you heard was eeh? When you say /e/ your lips are not too far apart, your mouth is opened more left to right (wide) than top to bottom.  Let’s pretend we are opening a door knob and say /e/ (eeh) as we twist the knob. Everyone is quiet to hear the knob turn! Ehh is all I hear, but I don’t see anyone at the door! Now open your door, /e/.


3. Look at this Silly Sentence we have here on the chart! “Everybody saw Eskimo Eddie enter the elevator on an elephant.” Can we all say it together three times in a row? Now let’s say it while we open our doors and stretch the /e/ out at the beginning of every word. : “Everybody saw Eskimo Eddie enter the elevator on an elephant.” Great job, now this last time can we break the words up and separate the /e/ sound at the beginning from the rest of the word? “Everybody saw Eskimo Eddie enter the elevator on an elephant.”  You did it! That sounded great.


4. Can you please take out your writing paper and pencil? We use the letter e to spell /e/.  Let’s practice writing it! Start your pencil half way between the sidewalk and the fence, draw a straight line to the right, curve up to the left and touch the fence, then curve down to the left (to barely touch the point where you started) and drop your curve down to the right to touch the sidewalk and curve back up just a little. Wooah that seemed hard but it should look almost like an o with a line through the middle! When I put a check beside your e to see that you did it right, I want you to write it correctly 10 times! When you see the letter e by itself in a word remember it sounds like /e/ eeeh!


5. Let’s see how to find /e/ in the word step. I’m going to say the word slowly and stretch out each sound. Listen for the door opening.  St-st-st-e-p. St-st-st-e-e-e-p. I heard it, /e/ is in step!

6. I want you to listen carefully and raise your hand when I call on you. Do you hear /e/ in:  stop or jet? Right or left? Jam or peg? Take or set?  Pass out a 3x5 cars with these pictures words on them: red, pet, hat, step, wet. Let’s see if we can spot or mouth movement for /e/ in some of these words. Turn your door knob if you hear /e/ in a word on your card and we will go around the classroom to read them aloud.

7. See this book, “Ben is a little boy that sleeps in a baby pen. Ben has a cat.  Ben wants to play with his cat, and the cat wants to play with Ben.  They cannot reach each other, what should they do?”  Read Ben’s Pen Pals and then talk about the story. Reread and have students raise their hands to signal that they hear the /e/ sound. You can list these words on the board.  Now have them all take out their drawing paper and draw a cat in the pen, tell them to write a message about it using invented spelling then display the beautiful art!

8. For assessment pass out 3x5 picture cards to each student and let them stack the cards according to if the do or do not have /e/ in the word the picture stands for, and worksheet.


Ben’s Pen Pals.  Educational Insights. Carson, CA. 1990.