Teach Phonics: Short “e” Sound — for Parents

Red Cat Reading Team Phonics

Introducing the Short E Sound

Short “e” is the sound that the letter “e” makes in the words, “egg,” “leg,” and “wet.” It is pronounced eh (as opposed to words like “meet,” “tea,” or “key,” which contain long “e” sounds, pronounced ee).

The short “e” sound is very common, especially in the middle of words (like “pet”). That means there are lots of simple words to practice with while your child is learning! Get started when your child is in a good mood – don’t force phonics time! Make it fun for both of you! Start with words that begin with the short “e” sound so they can hear it clearly (“egg,” “Ed,” “extra”). Once they have that down, move on to words that have the “e” in the middle (“bet,” “leg,” “men,” “tent”).


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With all these activities, it helps if your child can see, say, and hear the letter and the sound it makes. Use your finger as a pointer as you read together. Write down words as you play together and sound them out. “That is an egg! It’s spelled like this: (while writing) E-G-G. (Point to letters as you read the word slowly) Egg.”

Elephant Masks

There’s no question: elephants are pretty great. Kids are fascinated with them! Take advantage of their natural interest in the giant tusked beasts to work on the short “e” sound. One option is to create an elephant mask. There are a few ways to do this, depending on how much preparation time you have (and we know that time is precious as a parent!):

Teach Phonics – Short "e" Sound. Red Cat Reading

  • Use a printable template.

    For this option, look around online and print out a cut-out mask template. Cut it out (or let your child cut it out with safety scissors), let your child color it to their heart’s desire, and attach string to either side.

  • Use a paper plate and construction paper.

    This is probably the most work-intensive option, but the finished product looks nice! You’ll need a white paper plate, construction paper (grey or white), scissors, tape or stapler, string, a pencil, and crayons (a hole punch is nice, but optional). First, use your pencil trace elephant ears and a trunk on the construction paper (it doesn’t have to be perfect!). Cut out the ears and trunk and attach them to the plate with tape or a stapler. Next let your child color the mask (purple elephants are totally fine in my book). Hold the mask up to his or her face and determine the proper location for eye holes and the proper length for string. Cut out eyeholes and cut the string to the right length. Cut holes for the string and tie the mask on.

  • Just use construction paper to make the elephant trunk. 

    Not all kids want their whole face covered with a mask, and not all parents have time to make a mask! For this version, just use construction paper and string to create and tie on a trunk.

Once the mask is created, encourage your child to play and pretend to be an elephant. Pretend together to eat peanuts or splash water. Have fun! When you are ready to be still again, show her the word “elephant,” say it together, and point out the “e” at the beginning of the word.


Egg on a Spoon

Egg races are fun, but they can be messy! Pick a nice day to venture outdoors for this one. You’ll need an egg and a spoon for each participant. If it’s just you and your child, get in on the action and grab a spoon yourself! At the starting line, have each person balance the egg on its side in the spoon. Hold the spoon by its handle, and when you hear, “GO,” walk or run as fast as you can without dropping the egg (if you drop it and it isn’t broken, pick it back up and keep going). The first one across the finish line with their egg wins.

Either before or after you race, write out the word “egg” and take time to read it together. Point out the “e” and help your child understand that this letter makes the “eh” sound you hear at the beginning of the word.

Teach Phonics – Short "e" Sound. Red Cat Reading egg and spoon race


Write a Silly Short “e” Poem

Try this title: “Extra Early Evan.” Be creative! Why does your child think Evan was extra early? Where was he going? What other “e” sounds can you work in (maybe Evan was early because he rode an elephant!)? Have fun! Be a scribe and write down your poem as you go. Read the poem you wrote together when you are finished and point out all the short “e” sounds on the page.

You can also read books or sing songs with lots of short “e” sounds written by other authors. In time, your child will learn to recognize that the letter “e” makes the “eh” sound.

Learn the short “e” sound with Red Cat Reading’s Ed & Ted video and digital book lesson! Get it free with your Free Account from Red Cat Reading

Red Cat Reading – Short "e" sound


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