Expanding Engine


Associate the letter E (and lowercase e) with the short /e/ sound (e.g., egg, end, engine).

Lesson Plan

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Target Words:

  • engine
  • end
  • expand
  • explode
  • excellent


  • Engine graphic (see below)
  • Picture and word cards (see below)
  • E (and lowercase e) letter cards
  • Train car graphics (see below)
  • Word blending cards (see below)
  • Writing practice page (see below)

State and model the objective

Tell the children they will play with an expanding engine as they practice saying the /e/ sound in words beginning with the letter E such as end, engine, and explode.

Practice the skill within an activity

An expanding engine

  • Cut, glue and fold the engine graphic along the dotted lines to create an expanding engine.
  • Have the children help you expand the engine by unfolding the paper.
  • While emphasizing the target sound tell the children that the expanding engine will hold pictures of things that start with the /e/ sound like engine.
  • Lay out pictures of things that start with E (see below) and things that do not start with E (see below) and have the children sort the pictures.
  • Have the children label each picture by writing the letter E or e on each picture as they make comments such as the following, “envelope starts with E.”
  • Let the children put the pictures that start with E in the pockets of the expanding engine.

The excellent engine

  • Use the expanding engine from the previous activity and fill the pockets of the engine with picture cards and E letter cards (see below).
  • Comment that the engine is excellent.
  • Pull the ends of the train in and out quickly so that the picture and word cards fall out, then comment that the engine exploded!
  • Allow the children to "explode" by crouching down low and jumping up high.
  • Comment that because the engine exploded, that maybe it is not such an excellent engine after all.

Extending the train

  • Give the children word cards (see below) and have the children circle the letter E at the beginning of each word that starts with E. Provide help with reading the written words.
  • Have the children tape the word cards to the extra train cars (see below)
  • Attach the train cars to the engine from the previous activity in order to extend the train.
  • Let the children put a short E word at the end of the train.
  • Allow the children to drive the excellent engine around the edges of the room.

Apply the skill (choose from the following)

Identify, blend and manipulate sounds

  • Have children identify the beginning, middle and ending sounds of words by tapping their shoulder (beginning), their elbow (middle) and end (fingers) (e.g. met = /m/ tap shoulder, /e/ tap elbow, /t/ tap fingers):
    • red = /r/ /e/ /d/
    • set = /s/ /e/ /t/
    • bed = /b/ /e/ /d/
    • pen = /p/ /e/ /n/
  • Have children blend individual sounds into words by tapping their shoulder (beginning sound), their elbow (middle sound) and fingers (ending sound) then clap to say the whole word (e.g. /m/ tap shoulder, /e/ tap elbow, /t/ tap fingers = met clap hands)
    • /r/ /e/ /d/ = red
    • /s/ /e/ /t/ = set
    • /b/ /e/ /d/ = bed
    • /p/ /e/ /n/ = pen
  • With word blending cards (see below), have the children make new words by changing the vowel or either of the consonants:
    • Change the beginning sound: pet → net; red → bed
    • Change the ending sound: let → led; met → men
    • Change the middle sound: set → sat; pen → pan; net → not

Write the target letter with the Writing Practice Page (see below)

  • Help the children write the uppercase letter E and the lowercase letter e using the writing practice page.



See More

1. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.1.D: Recognize and name all upper and lower case letters in the alphabet.
2. CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.3.A: Demonstrate basic knowledge of one-to-one letter-sound correspondences by producing the primary sound or many of the most frequent sounds for each consonant.