Grade Levels: K-3

This lesson plan, adaptable for grades K-3, features a word-building game that challenges students to transform the sound and meaning of words by adding a single letter: e, h, or r.  A final silent e changes a short vowel sound to a long one. The letter h creates a digraph. And, r-controlled vowels transform vowel sounds in a word.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Watch the BrainPOP Jr. movies Silent E, Ch, and Th, Sh, and Wh.
  2. Brainstorm words with silent e, r-controlled vowels, and digraphs with h.
  3. Practice constructing new words with new sounds by playing the game Mine Cart Mash.
  4. Use the SnapThought feature to explain their thinking and strategies.
  5. Challenge each other to construct new words using one of the three featured letters: silent e, h, or r. (extension activity)




This lesson plan features the PBS Kids game Mine Cart Mash, a word-building game from our partner Sesame Workshop’s The Electric Company. The game takes place in a mine on Prankster Planet. Players try to stop “Prankster Bots” by slinging letters at their moving carts to transform existing words into new ones. They sling a final silent e to change short vowel words to words with long vowels. They sling the letter r to construct words with r-controlled vowels. And, they create digraphs by slinging h at the correct words.

Preview and play Mine Cart Mash to plan how you will adapt it to your students’ needs. If students will be working in small groups, review tips on Setting Cooperative Gaming Expectations.

For ideas on how to use SnapThought with this game, read Mine Cart Mash: SnapThought Prompts for My BrainPOP for more information and specific SnapThought prompts to provide students during game play.

Build background knowledge or reinforce topics with these BrainPOP Jr. movies: Silent E, Ch, and Th, Sh, and Wh.

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Play the BrainPOP Jr. phonics movie Silent E on the whiteboard for the whole class. After, project the Talk About It activity. Remind students that adding a final silent e changes the meaning of a word and the sound of its vowel from short to long. Prompt them to recall words from the movie that end with a silent e. Jot their responses in the appropriate circle in the Talk About It concept map.
  2. Repeat Step 1 with the Ch and  Th, Wh, and Sh movies. Remind students that adding the letter h changes the sound of both the h and the letter before it.  Also remind them that th, sh, and wh can appear at the beginning, middle, or end of a word. Project the Ch movie Talk About It and jot down words students brainstorm. Repeat with the Th, Wh, and Sh Talk About It..
  3. Now review r-controlled words with the class. Write the word pot on the whiteboard. Say the word aloud. Now add the letter r after the o and say the new word port. Ask students how adding r changed the sound of the vowel. Tell student that this is called a “bossy r”. Ask them why it is called that.
  4. Project the game Mine Cart Mash on the whiteboard and invite students up to try and figure out the game mechanics, or how to play.
  5. Now have students play the game independently or with a partner. You may also play the game with a small group of students while the rest of the class plays it independently. Remind students of the cooperative gaming expectations
  6. If students have individual logins through My BrainPOP, encourage them to use the SnapThought® tool to take snapshots during game play, and reflect on their thinking and strategies. Review Mine Cart Mash: SnapThought Prompts for My BrainPOP for suggested prompts.  
  7. Bring the class together to discuss what they learned about final silent e, bossy r, and digraphs with the letter h.

Extension Activities:

Provide each student with a set of three index cards. Prompt them to think about words that became different words simply by adding a final silent e, a bossy r or an h. Have them write the original words (without the new letter) on the index cards. They should only write one word per card. Now pair up students. Have them swap cards. Challenge them to transform the word on the front of the card into a new word by adding final silent e, r, or an h.