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Spelling Lesson Plans

EI or IE?

Use step-by-step spelling lesson plans for spelling success! You and your students will gain confidence in spelling in tricky words by  progressing methodically through key concepts.

Teaching IE/EI Words

The printable lesson includes ten steps for spelling success. This lesson is suitable for grades 5 and up, including ESL students and adults.  

See my list of 285 IE/EI words for more practice.


Begin with this short pretest. Decide if  ie  or ei  goes in each blank.

1.  My n__ ghbor  bel __ves he can ach__ve almost anything.
2.  N___ ther  the dog nor the cat w____ghs more than our pet turkey.
3.  When my fr__nd  drinks too much caff__ne, he starts acting w___rdly!
4. Clare hopes to rec___ve a job after the interv___w.
5. Our  v___ns  move blood to and from the heart.

Check your answers at the end of this lesson.

Step One

Memorize this rule. It doesn’t always work, but it will help you with many of these tricky words.
     Put i before e
     Except after c
     Or when sounded like a
      As in neighbor and weigh.
Now let’s look at each part of the rule, one piece at a time.

Step Two

Yield sign - red and white

Put i before e

IE words that fit the rule: achieve, belief, believe, brief, chief, die, field, fierce, friend, grief, grieve, niece, pie, piece, relief, retrieve, shield, siege, thief, tie, view, yield

Finish spelling these words:

th __ f           br___ f            fr___ nd             gr___ f         n___ce

rel___ f        f ___ ld             y ____ ld           v___w          ach ___ ve

 Write sentences for these words:  shield        piece        believe

Check your answers at the end of this lesson.

Step Three

Except after c

EI words that fit the rule: ceiling, conceive, conceited, deceive, perceive, receipt, receive

Finish spelling these words:

          rec ___pt           conc___ted        perc ___ve

Write sentences for these words:  receive     ceiling    deceive

Check your answers at the end of this lesson.

Step Four

Now practice both sets of words that you’ve learned so far. Finish the words.

1. The winds blew so f___rcely that no one could bel___ ve the damage they caused.

2.  I will need a rec___pt for the money you rec____ved from me.

3. My mom was so rel ___ved to have the bathroom c___ling painted.

4. The th ___ f   did not ...

Step Five

sleek pink 8The number eight

Or when sounded like a
As in neighbor and weigh.

EI words that fit the rule: beige, eight, freight, neigh, neighbor, reign, rein, reindeer, sleigh, veil, vein, weigh, weight

Finish spelling these words:

          v___l            __ghteen      n___gh         r___ndeer     b___ge

          w___gh         r__n             __ght            w__ght         r___gn

Write sentences for these words:

         veil, neighbor, freight

Check your answers at the end of this lesson.

Step Six

Review all the words that you’ve learned so far. Copy all the misspelled words in this paragraph. Rewrite this entire paragraph, spelling all the words correctly.   

My neice was ready to play her first piece in a piano recital. She wore a biege top. She was eighth in the program, so she had to wait backstage out of view. She did not want to yeild to her nerves. She looked first at the floor, then at the ceiling. Finally it was her turn. She played so well that she recieved much applause. She felt great releif!

Check your answers at the end of this lesson. 

Step Seven

Coffee cup = caffeinecoffee with caffeine

Now you’re ready to add two more lines to the rhyme to cover some of the common exceptions to the first part of the rhyme:

          Put i before e
          Except after c
          Or when sounded like a
          As in neighbor and weigh.         

         Either, neither, leisure and seize         

          Are exceptions, so watch for these!         

The words we’ve just added to the rhyme are some of the most common words that don’t fit the first four lines of the rule. In all of these words, ei makes the long e sound.

Two more words like this are caffeine and protein. It’s best to just memorize them.

In these sentences, if a bold word is spelled wrong, write it correctly on your paper. Then rewrite the entire sentence, spelling each word correctly. If the word is spelled correctly, simply move on to the next sentence. 

1.  You should either go outside or close the door. 

2.  My nieghbor says that weekends are meant for relaxation and leisure. 

3.  The doctor told me I needed to eat more foods with protien. __________

4. Niether rain nor snow will keep me from visiting you tomorrow! __________

5.  The theif tried to sieze a lot of cash from the register. __________

Check your answers at the end of this lesson.

Step Eight


Now let’s look at some exceptions to the rhyme. Many exceptions fall into these categories:

Words spelled cie in which the c is pronounced sh:

            ancient, conscience, efficient, glacier, proficient, species

Words in which ei spells the long i sound:

          height, sleight, science, scientist

Words in which EIT is pronounced fit:

          forfeit, counterfeit

Other words we haven’t covered elsewhere:

          heir, heifer, weird

Make two columns on a piece of paper. Label one column: Words Spelled Correctly. Label the second column: Words Spelled Incorrectly. Write each word in the Correct column. Write each word in the Incorrect column correctly three times on the same piece of paper.

science         hieght           forfeit            hier               weird

leisure          anceint         believe          sleight           counterfiet

heifer            perceive        cieling           glacier           efficeint

Step Nine

brown kitchen scalesweigh

Practice every type of word in this lesson. Write ie or ei in each blank.

1. I found a w_____ rd new spec____s of insects in the garden.

2. My fr____nd found some of these bugs in the wheat f___ld.

3. One sc____ntist wanted to w____gh the insects.

4. Our team had to forf____t the baseball game because we had only ___ght players.

5. The clouds were dec___ving because we didn’t rec___ve rain.

6. The storm blew so f___rcely that it knocked a fr___ght train off the track.

7. As we rode in the sl___gh, the horse n___ghed when I pulled on its r___ns.

8. The actor was so conc___ted that he bel___ved no one could take his place.

9. The lawyer hoped to ach___ve justice with the papers he carried in his br___fcase.

10. Can you retr___ve my password?

Check your answers at the end of this lesson.

yellow starCongratulations!

Step Ten

Make a list of any words you missed in Step Nine to study. Review this lesson occasionally to remind yourself of tricky IE/EI words.

Congratulations on completing this Step-By-Step lesson!

Print the entire  spelling lesson plan to see all ten steps needed to master IE/ EI words and to check your answers.

My list of 285 IE/EI words will give students of all ages plenty of words to practice.

More Spelling Lesson Plans

Here's another step-by-step spelling lesson plan about doubling final consonants when adding suffixes.

Spelling Exercises - Ready-to-use sentences for students to copy from the board. Use ours, then follow this format to make more of your own spelling exercises.

Mom helping son with spelling lesson

How to Teach Spelling - Teachers, start here! We provide key guidelines for anyone who is trying to teach spelling, regardless the age of the student. 

Spelling Homework - The more practice the better! 20 fabulous, flexible ideas for any list of weekly spelling words. Several ideas include input from a family helper

Author Ann Richmond Fisher

Ann Richmond Fisher is a longtime published educational writer, a former classroom teacher and a former homeschool teacher. Ann's spelling bee resources, graded spelling word lists, spelling games, worksheets, and other language arts resources have become respected around the globe since she launched Spelling-Words-Well in 2010.

Ann is also the creator of www.word-game-world.com.

  1. Spelling Words Well
  2. Spelling Lessons
  3. Teaching IE/EI Words


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