Beginning Reading


Eddie the Elephant

By: Annamarie Merritt


Rationale: This lesson will help beginning readers to learn to spell and read words.  They will learn to recognize e = /e/ in written and spoken words.  They will learn a meaningful representation and practice spelling and reading words with e = /e/ using a letterbox lesson.  Also, they will read along with the class and finally be assessed.


Red Gets Fed

Letterboxes: for each student and teacher

Letterbox letters for each student and teacher: b, d, e, f, h, l, n, p, r, s, t, t, w

Chart with tongue twister: Everybody saw Eddie and the Eskimo enter the elevator on the elephant.

Primary writing paper and pencils

Worksheet (pictures of two choices, which one has the e = /e/ sound in it: egg or bowl, ready or door, elephant or horse, elf or sleigh)

Picture of an elephant raising trunk

Dry erase markers and dry erase board


1. Begin by showing the students the letter e on the overhead projector.  Can anyone tell me what letter this is? Does anyone know what sound this letter makes? Very good! This letter sounds like an elephant when it raises its trunk. Now let’s look at this picture of an old door opening and imagine the sound it makes while opening. Model the sound for the students while stretching the e = /e/ sound out. Have student(s) repeat it after me.

2. Show the student(s) the chart with the tongue twister on it. I am going to say this sentence out loud (stretching out the e sound), and then when I’m done I want everyone to follow along and say the sentence with me. When we hear the special e sound, we are going to act like we’re opening an old door with our hands. Can everyone show me how you open a door? Great job! Let’s practice, remember to listen for the e = /e/ sound. Tongue Twister:  Everybody saw Eddie and the Eskimo enter the elevator on the elephant.

3. Next, I am going to say some words and I want each of you to listen for the special e sound, or Eddie raising his trunk in the words.  I will read both words and then call on good listeners who raise their hands to tell me which word has the special sound in it.

Words: Help or Floor

          Blue or Yelp

          Car or Best

          Head or Hair

Raise your hand if you can tell me a word that has the e sound in it. I will write the word on the board and we will say it as a class together. 

4.  We are now going to use our letterboxes to practice spelling words with the e sound. Everyone take out their letter boxes and all the lower case letters. Watch me as I show an example of how to use our letter boxes. I have placed three boxes, so this means that there are going to be three sounds in my word. This also means that our mouths are only going to move three times to say this word. Here is the first word….. help.

       Let's see I hear /b/ first, what letter makes that sound? b. So b goes in the first letterbox. Next I hear the e sound so the letter e goes in my second letterbox.  Now, I hear the l sound so the letter l goes in the third letter box. Last, I hear p what letter makes that sound? p. Good job! Where do you hear the e sound? The first, second, third or last letter? Think about Eddie raising up his trunk saying, “eeeehhhh.”

      I want you to use the letters you have in front of you to spell the following words. Open your boxes to three squares. The words are: ten, web, pet, gem  (I will say a sentence with each word and place the word on the overhead for everyone to check their spellings after giving them sufficient time after each word to spell). Next let’s try our four letter words: bent, test, help, sent. Last let’s try a big word with five different sounds, blend. Great job everyone on all of your spellings!

5.  I am going to show you some of the words that we spelled out in the boxes. I now want to see if you can read them to me. (Model the first one.) We are going to start with the sound. Then we are going to add the e sound. Now we have we. Finally let’s add the sound. That spells web. I am going to put some other words up here one at a time and I want you to read them for me.

6.  Introduce decodable text: “Red Gets Fed.”  Have you ever had a pet that liked to beg to eat and get fed lots and lots?  Well in this book, Red the dog begs everyone in his family for food.  Let's read to see if he gets fed. Have the children break up into groups to read “Red Gets Fed”. The students will take turns reading to each other while I walk around and listen to them read. Watch each child in the room read a page and take notes as they read.  If I don’t get around to every child reading since the book is so short, I may have to go around to those I didn’t hear read individually to note their ability.

7.  Finally, we are going to write a message about our pet named red. I want you to make up a sentence about this imaginary pet.  Remember (model), this is how we write our e. They can use inventive spelling to write the words.


Assessment:  As I go around hearing and noting miscues of each student reading, I will be able to check each child’s reading level by anecdotal notes that I will collaborate throughout the semester to check reading progress.  The students will be given a worksheet with pictures on it, some containing the e = /e/ sound in them.  The goal will be to circle the picture that contains this sound. After they have circled the picture they will write the word of the picture under it to practice writing the lowercase e.  After they have written the word on paper, they will then spell the words into their individual letterboxes.


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

DeNamur, Whitni. /e/ Says the Old Door. 


Murray, Bruce.

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