Pin the Tail on the Silent E Word! Activity

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Updated on Jul 2, 2013

In first grade, students will spend a lot of time developing their confidence with “silent e” words—remember them? They’re the words in which the “silent e” at the end transforms the vowel in the middle. These letters are the trick that turn words like “hop” into “hope” and “dim” into “dime.” They’re also, for many kids, a big brain stretch.

So, how can you help? Here’s a fun party or playdate game for at least 4 players—enough to make two teams in which kids can help each other out as they compete.

What You Need:

  • Posterboard (or large wall surface that you can chalk on, or use a whiteboard marker on)
  • White card stock paper
  • Black marker
  • Scissors
  • Blank wall space that kids can bang
  • Stick-on velcro

Three Letter Word List: Dim, Pin, Tim, Con, Hop, Ton, Her, Cam, Mad, Man, Can, Sid, Sam, Bar, Pal, Car, Sal, Far, Tap

What You Do:

  1. Pull out your posterboard, and choose 20 three letter combinations from the list above to write in large block letters, in neat columns (words should be at least 1’1/2”-2” high). Make sure you leave a generous space after each word (you’ll be adding “silent e”), and between words vertically. Invite your first grader to look over your shoulder, or even to write some of these letter combinations if she likes.
  2. Fasten the paper to a wall, and make sure that all the words are at a good height for your first grader to reach. At the end of each word combination, stick on a strip of Velcro.
  3. Cut 20 squares of card stock, each 2” square, and on each one, help your child write a clear “e” in large, black print.  Stick a strip of Velcro on the back of each card.
  4. Now you’re ready to play! Give each team 10 “e” cards, and line the kids up behind a starting line. Kids will take turns running up to the poster, one team at a time. They must say the three letter word correctly, and then add the “e” and say the new word. They’re encouraged to “cheat”—team members can help them—they just have to say it out loud and proud.
  5. Although you can play this game as a pure team-on-team competition, another favorite way to play is “beat the clock.”  How fast can this whole bunch of kids fill in that silent “e” and say it correctly for all 20 words? Try it a few times, learn it backward and forward, and see if you can set a “personal best” for the day.
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.

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