The Horn goes Beep, Beep, Beep

Beginning Reader

Lauren Singer


Rational: Students need to understand that phonemes are represented by graphemes.  The arrangement of the graphemes map out the spoken word and in order to help children through the process of gaining this understanding it is important to teach the correspondences, which is the grapheme and the phoneme.  This lesson will teach the correspondence that ee=/E/.   Students will learn how to form the vocal gesture, practice identifying /E/ in words using ee, and apply the correspondence in reading.

Materials: Audio clip of a horn sound, chart with "The breeze brings the bees off the street and are now at the creek."; Elkin Letterboxes (one each per student and one each for the teacher) – 2 boxes and 6 boxes, letter tiles (a set per student and one teacher set): a, b, c, e, h, I, k, l, n, p, r, s, t, w, : The Bee Tree (Paper Star Book 1998) – teacher copy and one copy per two students; word chart: see, cheese, beep, three, sit, sleek, sweep, creep, street, walk, strength, screech; learning logs with primary paper and pencils; assessment: teacher clipboard with paper ready for easy anecdotal record taking and worksheet selecting words that go with the picture containing the ee sound and searching for them in a search puzzle (URL below).


1.      In learning other grapheme and phoneme correspondences we have learned that our written language has a special code.  We are going to learn a new code in this lesson.  We are going to learn how we move our mouth for /E/.  That ee represents /E/ in our written language.  The movement of our mouth almost opens like an open smile.  Our lips are separated and move out towards the sides.


2.       Let's pretend that we are driving a car or a bus. When we press down on the horn it makes a /E/ sound. Listen to the sound it makes coming from this car. [play audio clip] Do you hear the /E/ sound? Let’s try making the sound with our mouths. Now lets say the word beep, which is what the sound a horn makes. Beeeeeep. Do you hear the /E/ sound now?  Let's compare how it sounds when we form /e/. Notice that the sound we are making is not the same as the /E/ sound, it is shorter. Before we go to our next activity, everyone practice vocalizing /E/ and looking at the movements once more in the mirror to make sure that you see and feel the difference of movements between /e/ and /E/.


3.      I will show you how to find the /E/ in the word tree. I am going to exaggerate tree by stretching it out in slow motion.  Watch for when my lips first begin to separate into a wide smile. Tt- rr- eeeee. Slower: Tttt-rrr-eeeeee-. Did you feel it? On the third phoneme I noticed that my lips moved in a wide smile and my voice turned on a little stronger to produce the /E/ in the word tree.


4.       [Already on chart] Now let's look at our chart.  I have a tongue tickler for us to try.  This is the tongue tickler, "The breeze brings the bees off the street."  Let's say it together and this time say it three times in a row.  Now let's say it again and this time we will say it only one time but I want us to stretch the /E/ in the words. "The breeeeeeze brings the beeeeees off the streeeeeet and now are at the creeeeeek.”


5.      Since we have practiced vocalizing and feeling the /E/, I want us to practice using our ee to represent /E/ in words on our letterboxes.  Each student should have their own letter boxes and your letter pool should be above your letterboxes on the table.  Make sure that your grapheme selection within your individual letter pool.  Before we get started, I am going to model for you with the word greet.  I will need four boxes. Greet, "They will greet you at the door." Beep.  As I think about this word, I hear the /E/ and know that it is represented by ee so I will put those in my box.  Remember when two graphemes represent one phoneme you put both letters in one box.  The onset that I hear is /b/ so I will place a b  before it and the last phoneme I hear is /p/ so I will place a p at the end.  So now in my box I have b ee p for beep.  Now I am going to say some words, I will give you sentences to help with understanding and I wish for you to use your letterboxes and tiles to spell the words.  I will instruct you as to the number of letterboxes that you will need to use. I will go slowly so that you have time to think and I will be observing each student during this activity and making brief notes. Words: 2-[see], 3-[beep, reef, bit], 4-[creek, sleep, queen], 5-[street, length, screech].  Letters: b, c, c, c , e, f, g, h, I, k, l, n, p, q, r, s, t, u.  After completing all the words, I will have them read a chart with the words that we used for the letterbox lesson for review.


6.      You are going to read The Bee Tree  by Patricia Polacco.  You will be assigned a partner to read this story with so that you can help each other if needed. (Group higher readers with lower readers). The Bee Tree is about a little girl names Mary Ellen who does not like to read and would rather be outside. Her grandpa suggests that she find a bee tree. Keep reading the story to find out if Mary Ellen goes looking for the bee tree. When you finish reading the story, you may use your pencil and reading learning log (filled with primary paper) to write down words that are in the text that represent the /E/ using the graphemes ee.  I will be monitoring reading and writing while you work, so when I am beside you please just continue your reading or writing. I will have students read words aloud to the group that they found in the text that use ee for /E/. 


7.      Assessment:  [Worksheets and pencils] Children will complete the "EE Word Search" worksheet.  They are to write the words from the word bank under the picture that they correspond with.  This represents ee=/E/. Students will be observed during letterbox lesson for understanding and noted on anecdotal records for reading and application of ee=/E/ in letterbox lesson.  I will monitor for participation in reading the words aloud with the group and make notes accordingly.



Murray, B. (2012). Making site words, teaching word recognition from phoneme awareness to fluency. (pp. 88-111). Ronkonkoma, NY: Linus Publications, Inc.

 Polacco, P. (1998). The Bee Tree. Puffin.

Crum, Teri. Smile, It’s time to Sleep. Adventures 2010


Assessment Worksheet:

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