Elephant on the Elevator

Rainer Rawlinson




In beginning reading, it is vital that students learn to decode written words in order to become successful readers. Through decoding, children are able to gain sight words, which leads to enjoyable reading success. Because all words in the English language contain at least one vowel, it is very important to teach these to children very early in reading instruction. During this lesson, the focus will be on the vowel correspondence e=/e/. This correspondence will be taught with a memorable letterbox lesson, which involves the use of gestures, tongue ticklers, letterboxes, and reading a decodable text.



·        Poster that displays the tongue twister: Everybody saw Eddie the Elephant Enter the Elevator.

·        Picture of the letter e with an old cracked door

·        Dry erase board

·        Dry erase markers

·        Large letter boxes for teacher use

·        Large letters for teacher use

·        Letter boxes for each student

·        Letters for each student: a, b, c, d, e, h, k, l, n, p, r, s, t

·        A Copy of the book, Red Gets Fed for each student

·        Overhead projector

·        Word lists for each student of words spelled in the letterbox lessons:

o   3 boxes- pal, shed

o   4 boxes- bent, track, test, sled

o   5 boxes- blend, trend




1. I will begin this lesson by explaining to the students the importance of knowing the different sounds that letters, especially vowels, make in words because this help us learn how to read. Say: "Today we are going to learn about the vowel, e and the sound that it makes. Has anyone ever opened an old door and heard the sound that it makes? Right! It says, 'eeeeeeeehhhh.' Take a look at this picture. We'll pretend that it is an old, creaky door."

2. Say: "Now I'm going to pretend that I am opening a door, and I'm going to make the 'eeeehhh' sound when I do it. (Model this for students.) Did you hear the /e/ sound? Now, why don't we try it together?" (Have students do this with you.)

3. Say: "Now, I want you to try it again, and this time, let's really stretch that /e/ sound out and pretend to open that creaky door! (Students say /e/ sound. Now I want everybody to say this tongue tickler with me… Everybody saw Eddie the elephant enter the elevator. (Have students repeat) Now when we say it I want everybody to stretch out the /e/ sound and use your havd like you are opening a door whenever you hear an /e/…Eeeeeeverbody saw Eeeeeedie the eeeeeeleeeeephant eeeeenter the eeeeeeelevator!) Great work! I really heard that /e/ sound. Did you?"

4. Say: "Now, we are going to become word detectives, and we are going to try to find the /e/ sound in a few words. I'm going to say some words, and I need my detectives to tell me which word has the /e/ sound! Are you ready? Do you hear the /e/ sound in bag or beg? Pig or peg? Arm or leg?"

5. Say: "Since you have done such a great job as a word detective, I think we are ready to get some extra practice using our letter boxes! Everyone take out your letter boxes and your letters! (Teacher takes out letter boxes and letters and places them on the overhead projector. Check to make sure all students are ready to move on before moving ahead with the lesson). Ok, I'm going to spell the first word, but I'm going to need your help. The first word is egg. (Ask for student's help while doing this, but really model for them how to do it, so that those who are unsure will have a clear understanding.) Let me think about the first sound I hear... Right! It's the /e/ sound, so I'm going to place the e in my first box. What the second sound I hear? Right! It's g, so I'm going to place the g in my second box, but I'm actually going to put two g's, since the word egg is spelled e-g-g.

6. Now the students will try it. I will tell the students how many letterboxes they need for each word prior to giving them the word to spell. Say. "Now you are going to try by yourself. Your first word is fed." (I will continue this process with each of the remaining words: 3- pal, shed, 4- bent, test, sled, track, and 5- blend, trend.) "If you need help, you may ask your neighbor, or you can raise your hand, and I will come to help you. Does everyone hear the /e/ sound in these words?" Have students spell each of these words, while giving them enough time to complete each one before moving to the next. Teacher will walk around and monitor students' progress.

7. Say: "One way of the very best ways to get better at reading is to practice! So, now I'm going to give you a list of the words that we just spelled, and we are going to read them together!" Give each student a list of the words. Read each of the words aloud with the students, modeling appropriate decoding strategies when necessary.

8. Say: "Since you are doing such a great job reading, we are going to keep up the good work and get some more practice so that we can be even better readers! Today, we are going to read the story, Red gets Fed. This story is about a dog named Red. Red is a very hungry and playful puppy, and all he wants to do is get fed. He looks and looks to try and find someone to feed him and make him happy! Will he be able to find someone? I guess you'll just have to read to find out! Pass out books to each student. Does everyone having their reading buddy next to them? (Students have partners to read new stories so that they will have help if needed.) Great! If you come across a word you don't know, you can ask your reading buddy for help, and if they don't know, raise your hand, and I will come by to help you! Really pay attention and look closely to find the letter e that makes the /e/ sound! If you finish reading before your friends do, it would be a good idea to read your book again, because how do we get better at reading? Right... We practice!"

9. Once students finish reading, direct their attention to the board. Say: "Ok boys and girls, can anyone tell me any words that they came across in the story that had the /e/ sound?" Have students provide these words and write them on the board, while requesting the students' help in writing/spelling them. "I love the way that all of my friends were such great word detectives and really found that /e/ sound in their story!"


I will take note of the students that participate in the class discussion after they have read the book and will be able to assess my students based on their ability to find the /e/ sound in Red gets Fed. In addition, I will have them individually read this book, and I will walk around the class and note various miscues the students make of the e=/e/ correspondence.


·        Fuzz Gets a Big Buzz! by Jenna Gore

·        Icky Sticky Tin Man by Tiffany Miller

·        Red Gets Fed Educational Insights, Carson, CA. 1990.

Return to Transformations Index