Saturday, 23 February 2008

Magic 'e' or split digraph

What is the best way to teach the split digraphs?
I personally like teaching them as split digraphs rather than magic e.

Here is a little drama I made up with inspiration from people from the HLTA forum

To teach the split digraph i_e

Once upon a time there was a letter and his name was 'i' [Child with a big laminated i on his chest] and he met up with a letter called 'e' (another child with an 'e') and they held hands and went for a walk. (Children go for a walk)

Now 'i' loved telling people his name (ask child his name) but 'e' wouldnt talk at all. (Ask child his name but child wont talk) He was soooo quiet. One day a little consonant came along and he was a very naughty consonant because he wouldnt say his name, (another child with 'p') he just kept making a sound p, p, p he wanted to join 'i' and his friend 'e' so he went up to them and held hands. So p and ie went for a walk...(ASK THE CHILDREN TO BLEND 'pie')

Suddenly another very very naughty consonant arrived and he wanted to join in. He wouldn't say his name either he just kept saying llllllll. (Another child with 'l' on his chest). Now 'l' wanted to go for a walk too but he didnt want to go at the end next to the 'e' who wouldnt talk so he went up to the 'ie' and he made them step apart ...he split them up and he squeezed inbetween them.

Now ask each child in turn their name....first one says 'p' second says 'I' third one says 'l' and last one wont talk. What is the word? PILE.

Now give children some more smaller cards to make some more split digraph words.mile, tile, mine, wine, etc Have plenty of words and plenty of letters to enable them to do this ( you could use magnetic letters)

Another one I did a few years ago for 'magic e' was to make a magic e wizzard/witch hat with a wand and a big e stuck on the end. I had lots of cvc words that would convert to the long vowel sound. I made some little laminated frogs and stars and children won the stars if they were right and managed to read the cvc and then the word with the 'e' on the end and they got turned into a frog if they read it wrong. They all loved this!

How about this? A bit of retro tv


  1. I feel this is confusing to children and the parents, as we were taught with the magic e. Many of us parents have never even heard of this. My view is that children at 7 should be taught in the most logical way by sounding out the syllables etc

  2. I've explained it as above but explained that the e is magic and changed the vowel sounds from short to long, a programme we use in school states we teach it as a slipt diagraph but the children I teach wouldn't have understood without learning about magic e. As a school our parents are invited in to discuss and observe these lessons at an open evening so they are aware of how and what their child will be learning.


I would love to read any suggestions or comments you would like to make.