Beginning Reading Lesson

Sickly Sid

A Beginning Reading Lesson

By Emily Mitchell

Rationale:  In order to become better readers and decoders, children need to know that letters represent phonemes or vocal gestures. In order to develop a better understanding of words and how to read them, students must learn letter correspondences.  This lesson focuses on the correspondence i=/i/. The lesson will develop the student’s awareness of i=/i/  by modeling how to form the short i sound, identify the short i sound in words, and practice decoding text that contains the short i sound.


Puppet of Sickly Sid

Elkonin letterboxes with at least 5 boxes for the teacher and each student

The letters for the teacher and each student: i, f, n, t, b, g, l, m, s, h, d, r, k, p

Flashcards of the letterbox words: if, in, it, big, bill, mist, hint, slim, drill, drink, blimp

Assessment with letterbox spelling


Decodable text Tin Man Fix-It


1.     Say, “The written language is a secret code that we must break in order to learn to read.  Today we are going to learn a part of the code so we are one step closer to cracking it.  We are going to learn about the vowel sound we hear in sickly and icky; it is the /i/ sound.  Let’s see if we can find this sound in the words that we read and spell.”

2.     “Have you ever been sick? This is my friend Sickly Sid. He is always sick, but he is going to help us find the /i/ sound today.  Do you hear the /i/ sound in the word Sid? Let’s shape our mouths so we can make the /i/ sound and make the sound together! /iiiiii/. Now let’s say this sentence together: ‘Sickly Sid is simply icky.’ Let’s say it a second time, but stretch out the /i/ sound whenever you hear it.  Look to Sickly Sid if you need help.  ‘Siiiickly Siiiid iiiis siiiimply iiiicky.’ The /i/ sound reminds me of when I’m sick and I don’t want to get up; I will make an /i/ sound if I have to move.”

3.     “To make sure we can recognize our /i/ sound, we are going to spell some words.  Pull out your letterboxes and your letters. Remember as we spell each word that only one mouth sound going in each box. Let me show you how to do the first one.  Let’s look at the word ‘mist.’  When I break it up into sounds, I get /m/ /i/ /s/ and /t/. So in the first box I place the letter m, in the second box I place the letter i, in the third box I place the letter s, and in the fourth box I place the letter t.  When I sound the word out, the letter spell mist.  Now let’s practice spelling the rest of our words.” I will have the students spell if, in, it, big, bill, drink, and blimp in their letterboxes. 

4.     “Now we are going to work on identifying the /i/ sound when we read.  We are going to read the book Tin Man Fix-It.  Let me tell you a bit about this book.  Tim the tin man and Jim, the fix-it man are sitting on the sidewalk, when suddenly, a big kid runs right into Tim! Will Jim be able to fix Tim? As we are reading watch Sickly Sid make sure you are recognizing all of the /i/ sounds!

5.     For assessment, I will give the students a worksheet with letterboxes for words already on it.  “Now we are going to see if we can identify the /i/ sound by ourselves, but first let’s practice.” On the board I will draw letterboxes.  “I am going to say the word, and I want you to raise your hand and try to spell it for me by placing one sound in each box.  Ready? Hint.” Students will then try to place the letters into the boxes. “First we hear what sound?... Followed by what sound?” Continue this process to correctly spell hint, and then do two more practices with the words slim and drill. Now we are going to take a quiz. I will read a word, and I want you to spell the words in the boxes, like we just did.  Remember to only put on sound in each box.” I will then read is, lid, gift, twist, and sprint. I will read each word three times, and then move on to the next one.  When I have gone through all of the words I will read each word once more and then collect the papers to assess.


1.     Murray, B.A. (2012). Making Sight Words. Linus Publications Inc., Ronkonkoma, NY.

2.     Tin Man Fix-It.  Phonics Readers Short Vowels.  Educational Insights.

Spelling with Letterboxes