In first grade phonics, that double “ee” is a big project. It's pretty strange, if you think about it: double a “t” or an “l” and the sound doesn't change … but double an “e” and, well, eek!
Here's a rainy day phonics craft project that you and your first grader can enjoy creating. Play with it, and keep it nearby the next time you read any book together that includes those double ee's, whether it's a story of a tree, or feelings, or the deep, deep sea … you name it!
What You Need:
- 4-5 cardboard toilet paper tubes
- Tempera glitter paint and paintbrush
- 2 wiggly eyes
- 2 cardboard egg cups, cut from an egg carton
- 1 24" strip of elastic, 1/2" wide
- Black sharpie pen
- Small strip of red felt
- Craft glue
- Round stickers in a coordinating color (optional; available at office supply stores)
What You Do:
- Start by painting the toilet paper tubes and egg cups with the glitter paint. If you want to go with a “realistic” look, you might try black, brown, or green paint, but feel free to branch out, perhaps even to hot pink, or purple, or both. While you're at it, your child might even choose a name for this eel creature.
- While the toilet paper tubes are drying, cut a “tongue” from red felt, about ½” x 2” long. If the felt seems thin, go ahead and make two layers, and glue them securely onto the end of the elastic.
- Put a small hole in the bottom of each egg cup, large enough so that the elastic can fit through it.
- Once the tubes are dry, cut each one in half, leaving 8-10 tubes, each about 3” long. Explain that these are your “ee” tubes, and brainstorm these words with your child. Help him write a different “ee” word on each tube, making sure that one of the tubes, which will go in the front, says “eel.” (Hint: try green, keep, deep, seep, creep, feel, reel, heel, wheel, tree…) If you also want to add stickers, now is a good time, too.
- Now it's time to string your eel together. Start by running the elastic through the bottom of one egg cup until it hits the edge of the red tongue, facing out. This will be the eel's head; glue on two googly eyes to complete the effect.
- Then string the tubes, starting with the one that says “eel.” Go all the way to the end of the tubes, and then poke the elastic through the other egg cup. Keep it straight but not taut, and knot it off or staple it securely.
- Want to make the eel “slither”? Grab the tongue, pull the elastic to tighten the eel, and then let go!
Julie Williams, M.A. Education, taught middle and high school History and English for seventeen years. Since then, she has volunteered in elementary classrooms while raising her two sons and earning a master's in school administration. She has also been a leader in her local PTA.