Ten Hens


Read and write words that end with -en.

Lesson Plan

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Target Words:

  • hen
  • pen
  • ten
  • men
  • Ben
  • Ken


  • Paper cup with the bottom cut off to use as a hen pen
  • Pictures of hens attached to craft sticks
  • Masking tape to mark off an area of the room to be a pen
  • Name tags (mailing labels or sticky notes)
  • Drum & mallet (can use a spoon and a pan or an oatmeal container)
  • Word blending cards
  • Ten Hens in a Pen target text
  • Paper hen
  • iPad with the Hideout application installed (specifically the -en Hen activity) (Optional)

The children will pretend to put hens in a pen while they read and write words that end with -en: hen, ten, pen, men, Ken, Ben.
Click here to view a video demonstration similar to this lesson. 

Literacy Activities
Get ten hens in a pen

  • Explain to the children that a pen is a fence that keeps farm animals from getting away.
  • Place a paper cup (with the bottom cut off) on the table and tell the children that it is a hen pen.
  • Show the children the pictures of hens on craft sticks and count the hens together as a group.
  • Let children take turns being men who put the ten hens in the pen. Count as each hen is placed in the pen.
  • Once all of the hens have been put in the pen, lift up the cup and tell the children that the hens got out of the pen.
  • Repeat, letting all the men (the children) get the ten hens back in the pen.

Let the men get hens in a pen

  • Before the activity, mark an area with masking tape on the floor as a pen for hens.
  • With the children, create two lists of names that end in -en (e.g. Gwen, Jen, Zen, Ken, Ben, Glen); one list for the hens and one for the men.
  • Show the children the pen for hens marked off on the floor by masking tape.
  • Tell the children that they will pretend to either be hens or men who get the hens in a pen, then give the children each a nametag marked with a chicken or a man.
  • Assign each of the children one of the names from the matching list (hen or men) to write on their nametag.
  • Call one of the hens by name and ask one of the men by name to take that hen to the hen pen.
  • Let the men take hens to the pen and have the children say, "Jen, go to the hen pen. Gwen, go to the hen pen," etc.
  • Let each child take a turn to beat a drum to match the rhythm of the phrase while the other children clap the rhythm.
  • Repeat until all of the hens are in the hen pen.

More Practice
Identify, blend and manipulate sounds

  • With word blending cards, have the children make new words by changing the vowel or either of the consonants:
    • hen → pen, men → ten, Ben → Ken
    • pen → pin, men → man, ten → tin
    • men → met, pen → peg, yen → yet

Read target words in a text 

  • Read the target text Ten Hens in a Pen together with the children.
  • Read the target text again, fading support.
  • Let the children take turns beating the drum when they hear a word that ends with -en as the other children clap or pat their lap.
  • Read each child's nametag as a group and beat the drum for each name.  

Write about the activity using target words/patterns

  • Play a "pass the hen" game with the children:
    • Have the children sit in a circle and take turns passing a paper hen.
    • As the children get the hen, have them say a new word that ends with -en.
    • Write each new word on the board.
    • Repeat the game, but this time, have the children write each word on the paper hen to practice writing -en words.

Continue to practice the skill on Hideout (Optional)

  • Download/install the Hideout application onto an iPad.
  • Within the app, open the -en Hen activity.
  • The children can take turns, individually or in groups, playing with the -en sound within the application.

SEEL Target Texts

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Ten Hens in a Pen

Ben and Ken are men.
Ben and Ken have ten hens.
Ben takes five hens to the hen pen.
Ken takes five hens to the hen pen.
Now all ten hens are in the pen!
Now the ten hens can live in a pen.


SEEL At Home

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Read and write words that end with -en.


  • Ten hen pictures
  • A strainer or bowl turned upside down and labeled "Hen Pen"

Activity: Ten Hens

  • Help your child write a name that ends with -en (i.e., Ken, Ben, Gwen, Jen) on two strips of paper for nametags, one for yourself and one for your child. 
  • Assist your child with labeling each of the hens with a silly name that ends with -en (e.g., Len, Pren, Yen, Sen, Den, Bren, Zen).
  • Invite your child to write "Hen Pen" on a piece of paper and attach it to a strainer or bowl turned upside-down.  
  • Have your child close his/her eyes as you hide the ten hens around the room then tell your child that all of the hens have escaped from their pen.
  • Use phrases with -en words to encourage your child to find the ten hens and put them in their pen (e.g., "Ben, can you put Gwen the hen back in the pen?")
  • Switch jobs so that you cover your eyes as your child hides the hens, and have fun hunting for the hens again.
  • The activity can be repeated several times.



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CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.3.B: Associate the long and short sounds with the common spellings (graphemes) for the five major vowels.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.2.D: Isolate and pronounce the initial, medial vowel, and final sounds (phonemes) in three-phoneme (consonant-vowel-consonant, or CVC) words. (This does not include CVCs ending with /l/, /r/, or /x/.)