Phonics: Introducing the Silent ‘E’

If you are a Montessorian, then you know we first teach the alphabet phonetically. Beginning at age 3, the child only learns the sound each letter makes, and is not yet introduced to the names of the letters. That is, not until they have mastered reading and writing short vowel words. Once this happens, it is time to begin introducing the child to words with long vowel sounds. Traditionally, this process is begun with introduction of the Silent E.

Now, before you just jump right into it, your child will need to know what the heck a vowel even is. Before teaching any new words, I first introduce the vowels through a Vowel Sorting Lesson. I use these cards that I created, which you can find HERE on my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

I always first point out that the child might have noticed some of the letters in the moveable alphabet are blue. Teach them that these are the five vowels, and then you tell their names – a, e, i, o, u. At this point, the child most likely already knows the names of these letters, but probably didn’t know they are vowels.

Then you introduce long vowel words, explaining that the vowels in some words sound like their name, such as in “rose”. Sort the picture cards by which long vowel sound is heard in each word, making sure to emphasize the long vowel sound. Once your child has lots of practice simply listening for the long vowel sound, they are ready to begin building their own long vowel words – starting with learning about the Silent E.

To introduce the Silent E, you will need a moveable alphabet and a set of picture cards. These cards have six pairs of words – one a short vowel word, and the other a corresponding silent E word. For example, a picture of “can” and then a “cane”. I have these picture cards that I made available on my TpT store, but I am actually going to link them to you here for FREE! You’ll find the link at the end of the post.

You first have the child build the short vowel word that goes with each picture. Then one by one, move through each short vowel word and show what happens when you add the Silent E.

Let’s look at “cap”. When you add the Silent E to the end of “cap” it makes the vowel before it say its name. Therefore, “cap” becomes “cape”. As you say this, dramatically switch out the picture of cap for the picture of cape, showing that the word has been transformed.

Continue moving through all the short vowel words in this way, showing how the word is transformed with the addition of the Silent E. At the end, read all of the transformed Silent E words to your child!

Chances are, your child will catch on fairly quickly and will begin trying to read Silent E words everywhere they see them. After this I generally will focus on silent E words within each vowel. These can also be called “CVCe” words – consonant vowel consonant with an “e” on the end, such as “game”. First start with “a-e” words, then “i-e”, then “o-e”, then “u-e”, finally mixing words with different vowels together.

I don’t mention “e-e” words because there’s really not many “e-e” words in the English language, and especially not any that your child will be familiar with (have you ever heard your 4 year old say “mete”??).

Without further ado, here are the FREE Silent E cards! Click the red “Download” below to get them for FREE. Or click the pic below to download them for $1.00 from my TeachersPayTeachers store if you so choose to support 🙂

Montessori Silent E Introduction Cards for Use With Moveable Alphabet!

I hope you enjoy adding these to the language area of your classroom (or home)! Happy reading my friends!

xo Miss Claire