How to Teach Final Silent E

Silent E can be very tricky for students who struggle with reading. We teach children to sound out words and they grind to a halt in the face of undecodable sound spellings and "silent" letters. To help students understand the complexities of final silent E, add these fun multisensory elements to your lessons.

Pinchy E

  • As you prepare to teach Pinchy E, focus first on the word LIKE. To prepare, write the letters for LIKE, one letter per notecard.

How to Teach Pinchy E (Final Silent E)

  • Tell the children that they are going to help you teach by doing a little skit about someone named Pinchy E. Give a letter each to four children, lining them up in order to spell LIKE. Tell them that E doesn’t really say anything at all because he’s so busy being sneaky. While the other letters are each saying a sound, he’s quietly reaching behind K and pinching i. When he pinches I, I gets startled and says his name “I” (long sound, not short sound).
    *If you do not have four people or do not wish to act out the skit, you may draw four stick figures and assign one letter to each.

How to Teach Pinchy E (Final Silent E)

  • Guide the children into sounding out the word. The child holding L will say /L/ when you point to them, the child holding "I" will say long I louder because sneaky Pinchy E is pinching him at that moment. K then says /K/. Blend together to say LIKE.

  • Tell the children, "Although the E does not have a sound of its own, it does help the first vowel make a different sound from what it would say if the E were not present." For example:
    Write the word "pin." Help the children sound it out. Now add an "E" to the end. Say, "Now, what does it say?" [PINE] Ask the children why is says pine instead of pin. [The E is pinching the I, making it say its name.] 

How to Teach Pinchy E (Final Silent E)

  • You may repeat this little play with four different children using other words such as MIKE, BIKE, HIKE. Switch vowels and do the same play with AKE words: LAKE, CAKE, TAKE, BAKE, WAKE. Let the children end the lesson by looking though books to find words with the Pinchy E in them.


Encouraging E

  • Write the word "have" on your whiteboard and draw a little curve under the letters V and E. Tell the children that V and E are working together to make the "V" sound. 
Encouraging E
  • Say, "The letter V doesn't get used very much so he is pretty shy. Being able to stand with the E makes him feel a lot more confident. E is so busy encouraging V that he forgot to reach around and pinch the vowel, so A makes its short sound instead of saying her name."

  • Sound out the word together: /h/ /ă/ /v/

  • Continue with other words that follow this pattern: give, live.

  • If there is time and interest, the children could act out a skit for this group of words as well, with E encouraging V.


Sleepy E

  • Write these words on your whiteboard: more, core, store, close. Sound them out with the children.

  • Say, "Normally when we see a word like these words, Pinchy E at the end makes the O say its name. But there are other words that don't act like these words do."

  • Write the word "love" on your whiteboard. Say, "Look at this word, it says love. It doesn't follow the pattern of Pinchy E because O doesn't say its name. And it doesn't follow the Encouraging E pattern because the O is not making its short sound. What is E doing now?" Allow children to share their ideas.

  • Show the children the O VE image. (You could even make enough copies for each child to have their own.) Encourage them to study the visual. Ask, "What is the O character doing? It looks to me like he's thinking hard and he is saying, 'uhhhh.'" Have the children say, "uhhhh," as they pretend to think hard.

    O VE Image

  • Say, "Now let's check out the E at the end of the word. What is he doing? He's certainly not acting like Pinchy E or Encouraging E! It looks like he is Sleepy E!"

  • Sound out the word together, emphasizing the "uhhhh" sound: /l/ /ŭ/ /v/

  • Continue with other words that follow this pattern: come, some, dove, above, glove.

  • As before, you may act out a skit for this group of words if there is interest.



While final silent E can create a stumbling block for children learning to read, adding right-brain-friendly elements to your lessons can break down those barriers. Try it today and see the difference it makes!

If you have questions or would like assistance, please contact us today; we are here for you!



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