In this post I offer free ea and ee worksheets and lesson ideas. I go over:
- Using Sound Cards
- Using Mixed Lists of Words (with FREE ea and ee worksheets)
- Basics of Teaching Spelling
With printable phonics books in hand, you may wonder: what other activities can I do with my student besides reading? K-2 students can benefit from several other reading activities. However, each activity needs to follow the effective principles of teaching. We’ll work through a sample lesson that nearly anyone can implement. Let’s assume the child is learning to read ee and ea phonics sounds.
“Teachers must be aware that many of the reading steps that they take for granted, because they are expert readers and have a fully automated and non-conscious reading system, are not at all obvious for young children.” –Stanislas Dehaene (2011) from The Massive Impact of Literacy on the Brain and it’s Consequences for Education
When you teach a child to read, you must recognize your own bias. As an expert reader, you may assume the basics of literacy are innate. However, reading is not natural and requires explicit instruction. When working with a beginning reader, you must be patient, explain concepts you assume the child should “just know,” and realize that the child is painstakingly retraining millions of neurons.
Using Sound Cards
Learning to read requires the visual system. There’s a reason neuroscientist Dehaene dubbed the decoding area of our brains the Visual Word Form Area. When kids learn to read, they are transforming neurons that they previously used to identify faces and objects (Dehaene, 2011). At the time of reading instruction, these neurons do not process letters. In order for kids to learn to read, they need to interact with phonics sounds. To learn the phonics sounds, kids need to see them as units.
Flashcards are incredibly efficient. Simply write the phonics sounds your child has already learned on flashcards, and review them daily. This activity should only take about 5 minutes. In addition, this simple activity can improve retention, and help children recognize the phonics units when they occur in words.
Order of phonics sounds
If you’re using Reading Elephant books, here’s the sound cards a child currently working on ea and ee words phonics would use: a_, e_, i_, o_, u_, sh, th, ch, tch, ck, ing, ng, ang, wh, dr, tr, a_e, e_e, i_e, o_e, u_e, ee, ea. MIX THESE FLASHCARDS UP EVERY LESSON! Don’t let your student memorize the order of the flashcards. Also, don’t use a poster: your student will simply memorize the location of the sound units. If you’re not sure what the above phonics sounds say, here’s a guide:
a_ as in apple
e_ as in elephant
i_ as in igloo
o_ as in octopus
u_ as in up
sh as in wish
th as in bath
th as in then
ch as in chop
_tch as in batch
_ck as in deck
_ing as in king
_ng as in long
_ang as in sang
wh_ as in when
dr as in drive
tr as in trip
a_e as in bake
e_e as in Pete
i_e as in like
o_e as in hope
u_e as in use and duke
ea as in treat
ee as in sleep
ea and ee worksheets
Also, in every lesson a child should read a decontextualized mixed list of words. This is a list with a variety of sound units the child has learned. Contrary to what’s popular on the internet and even in bonafide literacy classrooms, a child should not read lists that contain all one sound like the following: beep, teen, lean, feel, teal, real, heal, seen. In this list, for example, the child simply knows to say the long e sound every time. Ee worksheets should include a variety of sounds.
I’ve attached an ee worksheet below. In the ee worksheet, you can see a sample word list. Simply click the link below:
In ee worksheets, a child should practice a variety of old and new sound units. Ee worksheets that promote lasting, transferable skills include short vowels and long vowels. In some ee worksheets that don’t use variety, the child can robotically say the long vowel every time…what a waste of time!
Basics of teaching spelling
Teaching kids to write the sound units in real words can facilitate learning. As kids write, they can store the visual image of the letter units. In the sound card activity, kids begin to analyze the phonics units in order to identify their sounds. In the spelling activity, kids are forced to analyze the phonics sounds even more thoroughly. Here they’ll begin to see pieces they’re missing.
For example, a child writing “real” may ask, “Is the a before the e or after? Is it ea or ae?” A child writing “lad” might ask, “Is the /d/ sound written b or d?” These sorts of errors and questions help the student develop a deeper knowledge of the units. This deep knowledge can transfer to reading. In fact, some studies suggest spelling improves the rate of learning. That is, kids that learn to spell the phonics sounds, can learn and apply phonics sounds faster (McGuinness, 2004, p. 114).
Sample spelling words
If you want to implement a simple spelling activity, here are some guidelines. Only select words that contain the phonics units your student is working on. For example, if your child is using ee worksheets, exclude oa words for now. Also, vary the sound units: include old and new phonics sounds. Lastly, use relatively uncommon words; this will ensure that your student isn’t just spelling from memory; after all, the goal is to develop their sound-by sound spelling skills. Again, if your student is reading ee worksheets, here’s a sample spelling list:
- Would you like to eat some ice cream? [The highlighted words are sight words. The student should memorize sight word spellings. Thus, don’t encourage sound-by-sound spelling with the highlighted words.]
When teaching spelling, you can use the cues, “First sound? Next sound? Next sound? Last sound?” Of course, if the student is spelling a word like “hop” with only three sounds say, “First sound? Next sound? Last sound?”
I hope your student has fun reading and coloring the ea ee worksheets!
Dehaene, Stanislas. (2011). The massive impact of literacy on the brain and its consequences for education. Retrieved from http://www.unicog.org/publications/Dehaene%20Review%20Cognitive%20neuroscience%20of%20Reading%20and%20Education%202011.pdf
McGuinness, Diane (2004). Early reading instruction: what science really tells us about how to teach reading. Cambridge, MA. The MIT Press.