By mid-year first graders are learning that the five vowels (a, e, i, o, u) may “say their names” in certain situations. When the letter e comes at the end of a word, it often makes the vowel preceding it “say its name.” This final e is called the Magic e, Bossy e, or Silent e, depending on the teacher’s preference.

1) Show your child the effect of the e by placing two cards on the table (labeled as following). Ask your child to read the word:

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Next, add an e card. Mention that it will “make the vowel say its name.” Ask your child to decode the new word.

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Finally, remove the e card, turn out the lights, and ask your child to read what remains (at). Ask your child to turn the lights back on, add the e card once again, and read the word (ate). Point out that the power of the Magic e is like turning on the lights.

Light switch

2) To improve decoding and word recognition skills, create flash cards that include the following pairs of words. Shuffle them and keep a chart of how many words your child can read in a minute. You and your child will be impressed how a little practice will result in a big improvement: can, cane, tap, tape, cap, cape, fat, fate, pan, pane, pin, pine, cut, cute, hid, hide, tub, tube, rip, ripe, them, theme, slop, slope, fine, fine, grip, gripe, slim, slime, cub, cube

3) Here are three books for applying this new skill in context (in order of difficulty):

snake cake by Yukiko Kido

Ice Fishing by Julie Alperen

Emma’s Magic Winter by Jean Little

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