Wonderful Magic E


February 27, 2011 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Articles


The second pattern on the Six Syllable Types poster is Magic E (upper middle graphic). Notice that letter e is holding a magic wand and wearing a magic hat. You can have a lot of fun teaching magic e, regardless of the age of your learner(s).

Your student(s) have learned that a vowel followed by a consonant says its “hurt” sound, and possibly that a vowel at the end of a one syllable word calls out its name. Remember that vowels like to sing out their name (see prior closed syllable entry) and do so unless there is a mean consonant blocking them. Now you can explain that whenever there is a vowel, then a consonant, and then an e at the end of a word, magic letter e takes away the power of the mean consonant and lets the other vowel sing out its name again. Letter e is magical but silent while it does this. We call this the Magic e, Silent e, Vowel-Consonant-e pattern, or VCe pattern.

Now, to practice this pattern, have some fun acting it out. You can easily make a magic e cape. Find some exciting colorful fabric about 45″ square. My cape has stars on it. Hem all the edges. Cut a circular hole out of the middle about 9 inches in diameter. Cut a strip of fabric long enough to go around the hole, about 1 and a quarter inches wide. If you cut it off the finished edge of the fabric and fold that finished edge to the inside of the neckline, there will be no raveling. Lay the long raw edge of the strip along the cut opening on the right side, and stitch the two raw edges together, leaving a small hem, then fold the strip up and to the inside of the opening, and hand-stitch it down inside at the seam line, leaving a small gap to insert some elastic. You are lining the cut edge and creating a fabric tube along the neck at the same time. Insert a piece of elastic long enough to go through the tube and  come out that hole to be tied in a bow in case you need to adjust the tightness. The attached picture shows a student wearing a cape, magic hat, and waving a wand over the head of a mean consonant to her right. You can purchase a wand, or make one with a drumstick or glitter stick etc., and lots of colorful ribbon dangling from the end.

Silent e

Students love practicing magic e with this sparkly costume!

For years I looked wistfully at magic hats, pondering how they could be used with students without danger of sharing lice. Finally I hit upon the idea of collecting those disposable plastic shower caps. Now anyone who wants to be magic e dons a shower cap first, then the magic e hat.

Now, if you have a group of students, pick three to stand side-by-side to make closed syllable words, and one to be magic e, while the others read what they’ve made. If you have just one student, the other letters can be posted on the blackboard or wall so the student can be magic e, walk up, and add an e to the end of the closed syllable words.

Form words such as not, pin, tub, tap, and pet. Have students sound these words out, noting the hurt vowel sound. Then call Magic e, who is waiting in the sidelines, to come in and help the poor hurting vowel call out its name. Have your Magic e student stand at the end of the closed syllable, hold out his/her magic wand over the head of the mean consonant (who can wither down a bit to demonstrate loss of power). Then have everyone figure out the new words: note, pine, tube, tape and Pete (you will need to switch to a capital P).

If your students have been doing really well with the closed syllable pattern, and easily read the one syllable open syllable words, you can actually teach a more complicated rule. That is to explain that whenever letter e is next to or near another vowel, the other vowel will say its name. This second rule can then be used to introduce some of the vowel team syllables as well (ee, some ie, oe, and ue, but more on teams later). If you do this students can start sounding out words such as see, bee, tree, pie, tie, toe, Joe, Sue, blue, glue, and clue. Note that the ie vowel team is will say the long i sound in short words, but long e in longer words (piece, chief). Just introduce on those short words where it says long i for now.

If you prefer to call this letter “Silent e,” explain that letter e has many jobs in our language (actually 5 different ones) but that it is often silent while working so hard.

Next entry will contain more discussion about open syllables. Have fun with magic e!

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