Grade Levels: K-3

This page provides information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about silent e. It is designed to complement the Silent E topic page on BrainPOP Jr.

Vowels can be challenging for early readers and writers to master because they make different sounds in different words, and we recommend reviewing the Short Vowels movie before introducing the silent e. This movie will explore different words that end with a silent e and explain how it can change a short vowel to a long one.

Quickly review with your children that the short vowel sound of the letter a sounds like aaa as in apple. The short vowel sound of e sounds like eh as in bed. The short vowel sound of i sounds like ih as in pin. The short vowel sound of o sounds like ah as in hog. The short vowel sound of u sounds like uh as in sun. Remind your children that the letter y is sometimes a vowel. Challenge your children to brainstorm more words with short vowels.

Help your children understand that vowels make other sounds. Long vowels are easy to remember because they sound like the name of the letters. The long vowel sound of the letter a sounds like ay as in ape or ace. The long vowel sound of e sounds like eee as in team or feed. The long vowel sound of i sounds like eye as in ice or bite. The long vowel sound of o sounds like oh as in home or foam. The long vowel sound of u sounds like you as in cube or fume. Some children may notice that the long vowel sound of u can sometimes sound like ooo as in tube or crude. Brainstorm more words with long vowels together. You may want to point out how different combinations of letters can create a long vowel sound. The words beak and feet both have a long e sound but they are spelled differently. The words kite, fight, and type all have a long i sound but they are also spelled differently. While children may not need to remember all the different combinations to make long vowel sounds at this time, helping them relate letters and letter combinations with different sounds will help make reading a more explorative and fun process.

Remind your children that there are many different ways to create long vowel sounds in words. One way is to add a silent e. Write the word man and have your children sound it out. Help them recognize the short a sound. Then add a silent e to the end of the word to spell mane. Explain that the silent e at the end of a word usually changes the short vowel into a long one. Come up with different short words and then add a silent e together, as in the words pan/pane, cub/cube, pin/pine, hop/hope, etc. If possible, use pictures, drawings, or photos with the words to help children read. Remind your children that there are exceptions to this rule. The words give, have, and are do not have long vowel sounds even though they end with a silent e.

The silent e can change sounds in other ways. When a silent e comes after a g, the sound changes to a j sound, as in huge and page. When a silent e comes after a c, the sound changes to a sss sound, as in force or pace. Challenge your children to come up with more words that follow this rule. They may want to employ rhyming strategies to help them brainstorm.

Remind your children that a suffix is a word part added to the end of a root word that changes it. You may want to write out different words with suffixes and have your children identify the root words and suffixes. Explain that when a suffix begins with a consonant, they can add it on after the silent e, as in the words agreement, strangely, and wasteful. However, if the suffix begins with a vowel, they should drop the silent e, and then add the suffix, as in the words latest, smiling, and shiny. We recommend using a chalkboard or dry-erase board to write a word, then erase the silent e and add the suffix. Then challenge your children to create their own words using suffixes.

Phonics and reading strategies help children explore words and decode them in different ways. There are many rules and exceptions, which can frustrate or confuse some children, so we recommend plenty of encouragement and practice reading aloud. BrainPOP Jr. plans on producing more phonics movies that will help young readers recognize letter combinations.