Ride The Choo-Choo Train

Emergent Literacy Design:

Ride the Choo-Choo Train! (ch-ch-ch)

By: Kimber Calhoun

Rationale: This lesson will help children identify /ch/, the phoneme represented by ch.  Students will learn to recognize /ch/ in spoken words by learning a meaningful representation, in this lesson the sound a train makes when going down the tracks (ch-ch-ch) Students will also recognize the consonant digraph symbol ch, practice finding /ch/ in words, and apply phoneme awareness with /ch/ in phonetic cue reading by distinguishing rhyming words from beginning letters.


  • Primary paper and pencil
  • chart with "The cheetah charges at the chimpanzee"
  • crayons and printed worksheets (one per student)
  • book “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” (Simon and Schuster, 1989)
  • cards with these words printed: [Chart, Bug, Drop, Chat, Chin]

Procedures: 1. Say: In order to learn to read, we must first know what secret sound each letter stands for. Most of you know the sounds for the letters of the alphabet, but some letters change their sound when they’re next to each other! An example of this is C and H, on their own c makes the /c/ sound and h makes the /h/ sound, but when they get together ch makes the /ch/ sound. Just like a choo-choo train, ch says /ch/ /ch/ /ch/.

2.  Say: “Everyone stand up and line up like a train. Now move your arms like the wheels of the train and say /ch/ /ch/ /ch/.” Allow the students to make one lap around the classroom, then tell them to freeze and keep their mouths frozen, too. Then say, “Notice how your mouth is shaped to make the /ch/ sound. Your lips should be pursed and your tongue should be just below you top front teeth. When you blow air between your top teeth and tongue, it will sound like the train!”

3.  Now let’s try to find our new phoneme in a spoken word. I’m going to listen and feel for /ch/ in the word archer. Ah-r-ch-r, Ahhh-rrr-chh-rrr. It’s there in the middle! I felt my lips purse and the air flow between my teeth and tongue. I also heard the train! /ch/ /ch/ /ch/. I can hear and feel the /ch/ in archer.

4. Now let’s do a fun tongue tickler with lots of examples of /ch/ in it. [present poster] “The cheetah charges at the chimpanzee" Everybody say it three times together. Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /ch/ at the beginning of the words. “The cchhhheetah cchhharged at the cchhhimpanzee." Try it again, and this time break it off the word: "The /ch/ eetah /ch/ arged at the /ch/ impanzee.”

5. [Have students take out primary paper and pencil]. As you’ll recall, the /ch/ sound is made when a c and an h get together. I want everyone to draw a c and h beside each other. After you’ve finished, bring it me for approval. When you get a sticker, I’d like you to continue and write the ch digraph 9 more times.

6. Choose individual students to answer each question aloud. Do you hear /ch/ in seat or chair? Catch or throw? Milk or cheese? Feel or touch? Then address the whole class and say, “Now I’m going to say a sentence and if you hear the /ch/ /ch/ /ch/ choo choo train in a word, then I want you to make the train wheels motion with your arms. The charming chicken chopped a big juicy chimichanga.

7. Say “Let’s look at a book about our new consonant digraph! This book is called “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom”. It’s a book about all the alphabet letters and their crazy adventures! They all climb up the coconut tree, but there are so many of them, will there be enough room? Let’s read and find out! Whenever you hear the /ch/ /ch/ /ch/ train coming, I want you do your train motion.” (Move your arms like the train wheels and show the children what you expect.) Ask the kids to write stories in small groups with silly CH words like chicka chicka. Ask the children to draw a picture to go with their story and hang it in the classroom.

8. Show CHAMP and model how to decide if it is champ or stamp: The CH tells me the train is coming, /ch/ /ch/ /ch/, so this word is chhhh-amp champ. You try some: CHART: dart or chart? BUG: chug or bug? DROP: chop or drop? CHAT: cat or chat? CHIN: chin or fin?

9. For assessment, the students will play a game of bingo with the /ch/ sound. Give each student a bingo board with 9 words on it. Some of the words on the card should have the /ch/ sound, some should not. Explain to the children that you will be calling out words. The student first needs to decide if they hear the /ch/ phoneme in the word. If they do, then they may move on. The second step is to identify that word on their bingo board. If they have the word AND it is a word with a /ch/ sound, they may cover it on their board. If they get a complete (straight across, up and down or diagonal) they may call bingo! Then the student should make the /ch/ /ch/ /ch/ train sound. Whoever calls bingo, makes their train sound and has all appropriate words first wins! (sample bingo card attached)




Murray, Bruce; Making Sight Words, Linus Publications, Inc.





Reference for assessment idea: http://www.phonicsbingo.com/bingo_phonics_phonemic_awareness.php