Introducing the Magic ‘e’
Yesterday, my son drew a picture for me and wrote: “I love you mummy and I wish you had a grayt lighf, Mummy.”
Pleased he is writing, I try not to fuss about his spelling too much. Notice he wrote ‘grayt’ instead of great and ‘lighf’ instead of ‘life’. And yes, his ‘f’ is backwards, too.
My son’s school is teaching phonics with Ruth Mishkin’s program Read, Write, Inc.
Having taught in two countries at 5 different schools, I have seen a lot of phonics programs.
There are a few things I like about this program. First, I like the way it teaches children to write letters with catchy phrases that help the child visualize the shape of the letter. For example, children say, “All around the apple” as they write a lower case ‘a’.
I also like how Read, Write, Inc. teaches the ‘special friends’ (a.k.a. vowel teams, digraphs) with catchy phrases like ‘ow – blow the snow’ and ‘ay – may I play?’
Since my son learned ‘the special friends’ first, he is now writing ‘lighk’ instead of ‘like’ and ‘playt’ instead of ‘plate’.
I decided it was time to teach the long vowel/silent e words before he gets too attached to spelling common words with his ‘special friend’ spellings.
My personal favorite way to do this is to use the ‘Magic e’.
If you would like to read more about teaching literacy or your child is not yet ready for long vowel words, you may be interested in the following blog posts:
If not, here is how to use the magic ‘e’ to make learning long vowels fun.
How to Use Magic ‘e’ to Teach Words With Long Vowels
First, make your sparkly Magic ‘e’ wand.
- popsicle stick
- construction paper
- glitter glue
- Get a popsicle stick (lolly stick) and a piece of colored construction paper.
- Fold the paper in half and cut it into a square shape. Open it up so you have a fold and two symmetrical squares on either side of the fold.
- Tape the popsicle stick onto the square on the right.
- Fold the square on the left over the top of the popsicle stick and glue the two squares together with the popsicle stick inside.
- Write a lower case ‘e’ on the front of the wand in glitter glue.
- Voila! You have a magic ‘e’ wand.
How To Introduce the Magic of Magic ‘e’
Prepare several notecards with the short vowel word on one side and long vowel word with the ‘silent e’ on the other.
Have your child read the short vowel word e.g. mad.
Next, tap the word with the Magic ‘e’ wand and say your magical phrase: Abracadabra! Alakazam!
Flip the word over and show the word with the magic ‘e’ on the end of it. Explain that the wand changed the vowel sound. With the silent ‘e’ at the end of the word the vowel says its name. Now the word reads ‘made’ instead of ‘mad’.
Go through each word with the magic wand and practice reading the long ‘a’ words. Here is an example of how to do this (pardon my eldest son’s finger in the footage – he did the recording):
When you’re finished with the long ‘a’ words, you may wish to introduce some long ‘i’, long ‘o’, and long ‘u’ words.
Have fun! You may want to use some of the ideas from Phonics for Active Kids to practice long vowel reading.
Here is a Magic ‘E’ Vocabulary Powerpoint I created years ago to help with vocabulary development and long vowel/silent ‘e’ reading practice.
Here is a Silent ‘e’ Spelling game on Education.com.
And an Electric Company Silent ‘e’ video on YouTube: