“Eeeek! A Mouse!”

A Beginning Reading Lesson

By: Elizabeth Earnest

Rationale: This lesson teaches children about the long vowel correspondence ee = /E/. In order to be able to read, children must learn to recognize the spellings that map pronunciations of different words. In this lesson, children will learn to recognize, spell, and read words containing the spelling ee. They will learn a meaningful representation (Eeeek! A mouse!),  spell and read words using this spelling in a letterbox lesson, and read a decodable book that focuses on the correspondence ee = /E/.

Materials: Graphic of Minnie screaming about a mouse; cover-up critter; whiteboard/smartboard Elkonin boxes for modeling; individual Elkonin boxes for each student; letter manipulatives for each child and magnetic or smartboard letters for teacher: b, e, e, s, d, p, n, w, c, r, k, g, t, t; list of words on chart paper to read: bee, seed, pen, weep, creek, greed, sweet, screen, street, feet, neep; decodable text The Mean Geese; practice worksheet; pseudowords for final assessment.


1) Say: In order to become an outstanding reader, we have to learn how to break the code that tells us how to pronounce words. We already learned how to read short vowel words with e, like ten, and now, we are going to learn about long E. When we have a long E in a word, it says its name, /E/. When I say /E/, I think of a woman screaming because she has seen a mouse. She says, “Eeeek! A mouse!” [Show graphic image.] Now, let’s look at the spelling of /E/ that we will be learning about today. One way to spell /E/ is with two e’s next to each other that say their own name, /E/. [Write ee on the board.]

2) Say: Before we begin learning about the spelling of /E/, we need to learn to listen for it in some words. When I listen for /E/ in words, I hear e say its name /E/ and my mouth is stretched wide like I am smiling. [Make vocal gesture for /E/.] Let me show you first: need. I heard e say its name and my mouth was stretched wide like I was smiling. There is a long E in need. Now, I am going to see if I hear a long E in pet. Hmm, I didn’t hear e say its name and my mouth was tall instead of wide like a smile. Now, it is your turn! If you hear /E/ say, “Eeeek! A mouse!” If you don’t hear /E/ say, “No mice here!” Is it in seat, rain, peek, send, cut, sheep? [Have children make a smile motion by tracing their lips with their fingers when they feel e say /E/.]

3) Say: What if I want to spell the word speed? “If you speed when you drive, you may get a ticket from a police officer.” Speed means to go too fast in this sentence. To spell speed in my letterboxes, first I have to decide how many phonemes are in the word by stretching it out and counting: /s//p//E//d/. I need 4 boxes. I heard that /E/ right before the /d/ so I am going to put two e’s  in the 3rd box to make that /E/ sound. The words begins with /s/ so I need an s in the 1st box. Now, I am going to say the word slowly again: /s//p//E//d/. I think I heard /p/ right after the /s/ so I will put a p in the 2nd box after the s. I have one more empty box now, and it is the sound that ends the word. Oh! The missing sound must be /d/ so I will put a d in the 4th box.

Now, I will show you how I would read a word I was having trouble with. [Display poster with screech at the top and model reading the word.] I will start with the ee; that part says /E/. Now, I am going to put the beginning letters with it: s-c-r-ee, /scrE/. Now, I’ll put that chunk together with the last sound: /scrE-ch/. Oh, screech, like “The car screeched to a stop.”

4) Say: Now it’s your turn to spell some words in letterboxes. You will start out easy with two boxes for bee. A bee is a flying insect that can sting. “A bee landed on my arm today and almost stung me!” What about our /E/ sound—did you remember that we are practicing spelling it with two e’s? I will be walking around to make sure everyone is on the right track. [Observe student progress.] You will need three letterboxes for the next word. Listen for the beginning sound to put in the 1st box, and then, listen for /E/ and remember how we are going to spell /E/. The word is seed. A seed is what a plant or tree comes from. “Those beautiful roses began as a tiny seed.” Seed. [Allow children to spell the remaining words, giving definitions (if needed) and sentences for each word: pen, weep, creek, greed, sweet, screen, and street.]

5) Say: Now, you are going to read the words you have spelled. [Show the words bee, seed, pen, weep, creek, greed, sweet, screen, street, the extra word feet, and the pseudoword neep. Have the students read the words in unison, and afterwards, call on each student to read one word from the list individually until everyone has had a turn.]

6) Say: Wow! You have done a wonderful job reading words with our new spelling for /E/, ee. Now we are going to read a book called The Mean Geese. This book tells a story about several different kinds of animals, but mainly a dog named Lad, who teases some geese. He finds out quickly that those geese are mean geese! Will Lad escape the mean geese? We will have to read to find out… Let’s find a partner and take turns reading The Mean Geese to find out what happens between Lad and the geese. [Children pair up and take turns reading alternating pages while the teacher walks around the classroom to monitor the students’ progress. After paired reading, the class rereads The Mean Geese together as a choral reading, stopping often to discuss the story and ask questions.]

7) Say: As our lesson about one way to spell /E/ (/E/=ee) is winding down, I want to see how well you have learned to recognize words with /E/ in them. On this worksheet, there are a list of words at the top and a scene at the bottom that includes pictures of all of the /E/ words listed. Your job is to read the words at the top of the page and listen for the /E/ sound. If you hear /E/, circle the word and the picture that goes along with the word. [Collect activity worksheets to monitor each child’s progress.]

While class is doing the activity worksheet, students will be called back to the kidney table individually to read pseudowords containing ee=/E/. This will be the final assessment for how well the students learned the correspondence.

            List of pseudowords:

1.       sneed

2.      meep

3.      screef

4.      heem

5.      pleen



Murray, G. Oh, I didn’t know!: A Beginning Reading Lesson  http://www.auburn.edu/~murrag1/BRMurrayG.htm

Murray, G. (2006) The Mean Geese. Reading Genie: http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/bookindex.html

Practice worksheet: http://www.free-phonics-worksheets.com/html/phonics_worksheet_v2-03.html

Graphic image: http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/347242146_6838.png

Return to Rendezvous Index