Activities for Teaching the Magic e Rule

Learning vowels can be very challenging for our young readers and writers because they make different sounds in different words.  Vowels can either make a short sound such as the /a/ sound in the word “cap” or a long sound, such as the /a/ in the word “lake”.  When reading, children must decide whether the vowel in the word makes its short or long sound.  There are several ways to make a long vowel sound in words.  One way is to add the Magic e at the end of a word.  The Magic e usually changes the short vowel sound into a long vowel sound.  Teaching children this rule helps them to determine which sound the vowel will make.

A simple explanation of the Magic e rule is “An ‘e’ close behind another vowel (with no more than one letter in between) usually makes the first vowel say its name, and the ‘e’ is usually silent.”  Using a story to teach this rule is often helpful.  Here is the story that we often use with our students:

Magic e has magic powers!  He flies over the consonant and when he comes to the first vowel, he taps the vowel on the head with his magic wand and shouts, “vowel, say your name!  Make the sound  you say in the alphabet!”  Now, Magic e is so tired.  He flies back to his spot.  He has no more energy so he goes to sleep without saying a sound. 

We typically teach the magic e rule in the middle of first grade.  Teaching the rule is actually a lot of fun.  You can have your students make their very own Magic e wands and act out the story.  Below are a few activities that can be used when teaching the Magic e rule in your small group instruction or within your literacy centers.

The Clip The Magic e is one of my favorite activities to use when beginning to teach the Magic e rule.  It is available on my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.  There are 12 cards with picture cues and 13 cards without picture cues.  Click HERE to download this activity.

Click the following link to download the FREE Magic e 4-In-A-Row template.  This template addresses the long a vowel sound.  Magic e 4 In A Row Activity

A board game is always a popular activity with the kiddos.  Click HERE to download 4 FREE Magic e Game Boards.

Magic e Activity Pack Revisedprevpg1

The Magic e Activity Pack contains 15 hands on activities designed to teach the Magic e rule.  The Activity Pack includes step-by-step directions for teaching the rule as well as a teaching manual with directions for each activity.   The Magic e Activity Pack is available in my TpT store (119 pages!).  Click HERE to check out the activities.


Delivered right to your front door in this sturdy Sterilite container!  All 15 activities printed in color and on 90 lb card stock with all materials needed to assemble your kit.  The kit can be found either on the Make, Take & Teach website or within my TpT store.  This kit is also available for parents.  The Magic e Parent kit contains 10 activities for use with one child.

Using Hand Signals to Teach Short Vowel Sounds

Two years ago I was noticing a pattern when I was working with first grade students.  I had groups of first graders who were very accurate with their short vowel sounds on the nonsense word fluency assessment of the DIBELS.   At times, these kiddos would quickly make motions while reading the CVC words.  The motions served as a cue to the correct pronunciation of the vowel sound.   I then did “sort of” an informal field study.  I determined which teachers were using hand signals to teach vowels and which ones were not.  I then compared student data and confirmed what I thought to be true.  When teachers use hand signals when teaching short vowel sounds, students are much more accurate when reading words.   It all makes sense.  I am a true believer in using multi-sensory teaching and using movement is a multi-sensory strategy.

My very good friend, Jen, in her role as a Reading Specialist, was one of the team members who helped to start our RtI initiative in our schools.  Jen is now a middle school principal (what a job that is!) and I miss her terribly in the elementaries.  After noticing the trend in the data in regards to the hand signals, I asked Jen if she could again put on her old Reading Specialist hat and help me create a video for using hand signals for the short vowels.

Several of our kindergarten teachers use hand signals and movement for all letters and sounds of the alphabet.  I’ve noticed the same trend not only with the vowels, but will all the letters.  So if you haven’t tried using hand signals, give it a try and see if you notice a difference.

Response to Intervention: 8 Core Principles

 This coming school year will be our 9th year of our Response to Intervention (RtI) initiative. Honestly, the years have passed so quickly and it’s hard for me to remember how we used to function before RtI. Not that everything is perfect now by any means, but RtI has become such an integral part of our school culture that it seems almost natural. One of the reasons I started this blog was to share with you content information as well as our personal experiences we have had while traveling along our RtI journey. Implementing a RtI model does not happen overnight as I’m sure those of you who have started such an initiative can attest to. There are bumps and blocks along the journey. By sharing our experiences we can help each other along the way.

I’ve put quite a bit of thought into how blog about this topic. I live and breathe RtI every day in my job and I want to do it justice. With this in mind, I’ve decided to organize the blog posts around the Eight Core Principles of RtI put forth by the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE, 2006). These core principles are the heart and soul of RtI.

I.         We can effectively teach all children
II.        Intervene Early
III.      Multi-tier Model of Service Delivery
IV.      Problem-Solving Model to make decisions
V.       Scientific, research-based validated intervention and instruction
VI.      Monitor student progress to inform instruction
VII.    Data driven decisions
VIII.   Assessment for the purposes of screening, diagnostics, and progress monitoring

Of course not all my posts will be directly related to RtI. For those posts that are, I will code them with a logo corresponding to one of the eight principles. So when you see a logo such as one at the top of the post, you’ll know it is a RtI related blog post.

Click the following link to download your free poster.  8 Core Principles of Response to Intervention

How To Make A Blending Board

Ever since posting the video on how to use these blending cards to help students blend CVC words, I’ve been receiving emails asking for the directions on how to make the boards.  The students at our Career Tech Center made blending boards for every kindergarten and first grade teacher in our schools with scrap wood they had laying around so getting specific directions was a bit difficult.  Kind of reminded me of my grandmother’s directions on how to make her delicious potato pancakes (a pinch of that, a little bit of this…).  So I trucked on down to see the friendly folks at the Home Depot for expert advice.

You will need:  1″x 4″ board, 5 mm underlayment for the backing, general purpose door stop molding, finishing nails

1.  Cut 14″ from the 1″ x 4″ board

2.  Cut 14″ from the molding

3.  Cut the underlayment board into a 14″ x 4 1/2″ section

4.  Using a table saw, cut an angle approximately 1/2″ deep at a 110 degree angle approximately 1″ from the front of the board.  Depending upon your saw, you may need to pass twice.  The 5 mm board must be able to fit in the crevice.

5.  You may want to use a jig saw or a scroll saw to curve the top edge of the 5 mm board.

6.  Using the finishing nails, fix the molding to the front of your board.

7.  Sand rough edges and paint if desired.

Click the following link to download a printable pdf of the directions Blending Board Directions

Click HERE for the link to the past post where you can download FREE blending cards


Eight Super Summer Sight Word Activities

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Ahhhh-summer.  Love those three months of sun and fun.  I’m always a little worried, however, coming back to school hoping and hoping that not too many children fell victim to the “summer slide.”   Although school is not in session, summer offers tons of opportunities for practicing skills in an active and fun way.  I especially love incorporating active movement into learning.  Here are 8 super activities for practicing sight words during the summer!

1.  Beach Balls- Using a Sharpie permanent marker, write sight words on a beach ball.  Have your child throw the ball in the air and then catch the ball.  Have her read the words that touch her hand.

2.  Hopscotch-  Hopscotch with a twist!  Create an old fashioned hopscotch board on your sidewalk and write sight words in each square.  Have your child read the sight word each time she hops on a square.  Can’t remember how to play?  Click the following link:  How to play hopscotch.

3. Jumping Words-  Have you seen the movie “The Spelling Bee”?  The main character practiced all her spelling words while jump roping!  What a great way to incorporate movement and rhythm.

4.  Sand Writing-  Going to the beach this summer?  Take a few moments and have your child write sight words in the sand.  If you don’t live near a lake or ocean, put some craft sand on a tray to write words.

5.  Waterpainting-  So fun and yet so simple.  All you need is a flat surface, water and a paint brush.  Have your child paint words with the water on a dark surface or on the cement.  Another variation of the water painting acitivity is having your child “paint” over a word that you name.  In the picture below, I painted a board with chalk board paint and purchased a mini “touch-up” paint roller.  Both items can be purchased at the Home Depot.  Write words in chalk and have your child paint over the words as you name them.

6. Flashlight Fun- This activity is really, really fun!  What you’ll do is write sight words on sticky notes and place them on the wall.  They could be placed all in one area or throughout your house.  Say a word and have your child flash the flashlight on the word.

7.  Magnifying Words-  Cute magnifying glasses can be found now in any large department and craft stores.  I found this adorable bug magnifying glass in Michael’s Craft store.  Say a word and have your child try to find the word in text.  Books, newspapers, magazines all work.

8.  Fly Swatting Sight Words-  This has to be one of the all-time kid favorite sight word activities.  Lay out the flies on the table and have your child “swat” a fly.  If she can read the word on the fly, she can keep it.  Click HERE for sight word flies for lists 1-9 of the Dolch sight word lists.

Most of all, have fun with your child this summer and read, read, read and read some more!


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