E is a pretty difficult letter for Kindergarteners to grasp.
Sometimes, the long /Ē/ sound is actually easier for students to remember and use! Long /Ē/ is remembered more often because its' sound is more obvious and can be more easily heard. However, short /e/ is extremely important to teach because it is the more common sound for e.
Short /e/ can be a hard sound for one main, complicated reason- the /e/ sound is very similar to the /i/ and /a/ sounds. It will take repeated exposure and practice for students to remember and produce the /e/ sound successfully, so we need to be sure to really focus on this sound!
As usual, my introduction is done in the whole group setting with my students seated on the carpet in front of me. After this initial introduction and guided practice time, there will be plenty of time for my students to practice independently.
"Today, we are going to learn about the letter E! What letter are we going to learn about?"
(Students will say, "We are going to learn about the letter E!")
"Great job, everyone! E... E is for eggs... especially Easter eggs! So many words start with E!
Do we have anyone in here whose name has a E in it? I bet we have a lot!" *Wait time*
(Students will share responses.)
"Yes, you are correct! Nice work! Now, let's learn a little more about this letter E and the two sounds that it can make in words!"
I Do 1:
I will show the students how to make the /e/ sound. I will show them how my mouth is formed and I will even let them watch me make the /e/ sound in a small, hand-held mirror. I will talk to the students about /e/ being a flat, wide sound- "you make it with your mouth completely open to the sides." "
"Now, E can also say its' name and make the /Ē/ sound. E can make the sounds /e/ and /Ē/!" I will show my students how my mouth is formed and I will even let them watch me make the /Ē/ sound in a small, hand-held mirror. I will even show my students how easy it is to go back and forth between the /e/ sound and the /Ē/ sound. After switching between sounds for a couple of times, I will give students their chance!
You Do 1:
I will have students use their own hand-held mirror and practice making the sounds for /e/. As they do that, I will remind them that "short /e/ is made when open your mouth widely, to the sides and let the sound out from your entire mouth. You don't need your tongue or your teeth for the /e/ sound... now try it again!" I will give students about 30 seconds to practice.
"Good work with the /e/ sound... now let's try to make the /Ē/ sound! Remember, the /Ē/ sound is made mostly the same way, with your mouth widened to the sides, but your tongue goes up in the back of your mouth to change to the /Ē/ sound." I will give students about 30 seconds to practice.
I Do 2:
I will talk to students about some words in our class that begin with a and some popular words that they would all be familiar with.
"Now, we are going to watch a video about the letter E and I want you to listen. When you hear a word that starts with /e/, or with /Ē/, or has those sounds in it, find the E on the video and point to it! This video is full of words that start with with E or have E, so use a finger and point to the E in each word and trace it as you say the word." (This helps with their fine motor skills and practicing formation!)
"Are you ready?"
(Students will say yes)
-- It is important to remind students that this video has words that begin with both short a and long E in it- preparing them for different words and sounds is important, as well as helpful!
"Let's practice a few times. If I say a word that begins with /e/ or /Ē/, point to me... Here we go:
dig, eggs, lobster, elephant, extra, friend... Wow, most of you did a great job! Now, let's watch the video and keep up the good pointing!"
You Do 2:
Students will watch the E video. It is super fun and catchy and students will sing along to the video and enjoy it. Also, this video provides students with a kinesthetic connection to the letter E and the sounds that it makes.
After the video, I will ask students to help me make a list of words that begin with short and long e, and we will create a reference chart to use throughout the week.
Here are some things I will do throughout the week when we focus on the phonemic awareness and phonics skills for the letter E!
I will give students a poem with many short and long E words in it and have them find all of the e's; then, we will practice reading it together for fluency.
The students will practice finding E's around the school (in the halls, on bulletin boards, etc).
I will have students practice making E's (while they trace or write it, they will say, /e/, /Ē/, /e/, /Ē/)
I can assess students' letter formation with their fingers, whiteboards or paper.
Here is a link to some cool letter formation videos I use on TeachersPayTeachers. I can assess
Finally, students will work on sorting (aloud) long versus short E sounds. I will say words and they can give me one thumb up for the short /e/ sound and a thumb down for the long /E/ sound. I like to see how much students understand the difference and are able to hear it! I can use this for assessing. Or, I can break down the assessment a little more and assess students sorting E versus no E instead!
On the last day of the E week, we go back over our E video and review our list of E words. We also take about two minutes and hold the small, hand-held mirrors for a partner and make sure they are correctly enunciating the /e/ sound and the /Ē/ sound. We go back over how to make these two sounds properly as the final activity. Then, I will tell the students that next week will bring us a new focus sound or some new focus sounds!
EXTRA FUN!!! To add to the summary for the week of E and /e/ and /Ē/, and group it in with someone else. Fortunately, this year, I was able to connect to a social studies standard, historical figures, with this letter! We were talking about Martin Luther King, Jr., so I had my students complete this wonderful writing project that revolved around cracking different colored eggs. Knowing that I could plan that activity for this same week, I made this week our "Early Easter Eggs" week! Early, because it was the fall. Easter, because it has a long E (and who doesn't like to check out a chocolate bunny in the fall). And eggs, because they are a fun and familiar food that we can make a connection with!
Also, we usually always do a main writing piece with the letter E.
Each year, I have had my students talk about many different topics, but this year we actually wrote about "Why it would be nice if Easter came early..."
In addition, we hang our E letter card up on the wall. That way, we can use it for our daily letter-sound practice! From then on, /e/ and /Ē/ will be part of our regular practice!
Finally, I like to put some letter E activities in my centers for extra practice- they are easy to differentiate while also providing extra practice with this difficult letter and sound! Attached are some fun activities that I like to use!