Beginning Reading: Shhh, Be Quiet!

“Shhh, Be Quiet!”

Beginning Reading Lesson Design

Jordan Greenberg

Rationale: This lesson teaches children about the long vowel correspondence sh = /sh/. In order to be able to read, children must learn to recognize the spellings that map word pronunciations. In this lesson children will learn to recognize the spellings that map word pronunciations. They will also learn a meaningful representation (librarian saying “shhhh!”), they will spell and read words containing this spelling in a Letterbox lesson, and read a decodable book that focuses on the correspondence sh = /sh/.


  • Graphic image of a librarian
  • Cover-up critter
  • Whiteboard or SmartBoard Elkonin boxes for modeling
  • Individual Elkonin boxes for each student
  • Letter manipulatives for each child
  • Magnetic or SmartBoard tiles for teacher (a, e, f, h, i, k, l, p, r, s, s, t) 
  • List of spelling words on poster or whiteboard to read (ship, shark, then, fresh, splash)
  • Decodable text: The Crash in the Shed
  • Assessment worksheet:


       1.     Say: In order to become expert readers, we need to learn the code that tells us how to pronounce words. We have already learned that t and h together make the /th/ sound with words like the, and today we are going to learn about the s-h sound, /sh/. When I say /sh/, I think of a librarian telling me “shhh!” when I am being too loud in the library.

       2.     Say: Before we learn about the spelling of /sh/, we need to listen for it in some words.  When I listen for /sh/ in words, I hear the librarian telling me to be quiet in the library. My lips stick out and my teeth touch together to say “shhh”. [Make vocal gesture for /sh/.] I’ll show you first: shut. I heard the librarian shushing and I felt my lips stick out and my teeth touch together [make a circle around pursed lips and point to teeth touching]. There is an /sh/ in shut. Now I’m going to see if it’s in snake. Hmm, I didn’t hear the librarian shushing us and I didn’t feel my lips stick out. Now you try. If you hear /sh/, pretend you’re the librarian and say “shhh, be quiet!” If you don’t hear /sh/ say, “that’s not it”. Is it in touch, shack, see, shape, course, shield? [Have children make a circle motion around their pursed lips when they hear /sh/.]

       3.     Say: Now let’s look at the spelling of /sh/ that we’ll learn today. We spell /sh/ with letter s, then letter h. [Write sh on the board]. What if I want to spell the word ship? “I am going sailing on a pirate ship”. To spell ship in letterboxes, first I need to know how many phonemes I have in the word, so I’ll stretch it out and count: /sh//i/ /p/. I need 3 boxes. I heard that /sh/ at the very beginning, so I’ll put an s and an h in the first box. Then I hear the short vowel /i/, so in the second box I’ll put an i. The last sound I hear is /p/, letter p, so p will go in the third and final box.  






       4.     Now I’m going to have you spell some words in letterboxes. You’ll start out with three boxes for shark, I hope I do not see a shark at the beach. What should go in the first box? [Respond to student’s answers.] What goes in the second box? Remember that bossy r makes the a silent, so a-r will go together in the second box. [Respond to student’s answers.] What is the last sound in shark? [Respond to student’s answers]. I’ll check your spelling while I walk around the room. [Observe progress.] You’ll need three letterboxes for the next word. Listen to see if this word has /sh/ in it before you spell it: then, then it was time to go home. Did you need sh? Why not? Right, because we don’t hear the librarian shushing us. We spell it with another digraph, th. [Volunteer spells it on the front board.] Did you remember to put th in the same box? Now let’s try four phonemes: fresh, I washed my laundry and now my clothes smell fresh and clean. One more and then we’re done with spelling, and this time we’ll need five boxes: splash, I jumped in the pool and make a huge splash. Remember to stretch it out to get through this tough word.

       5.     Say: Now I am going to let you read the words you’ve spelled, but first I’ll show you how I would read a tough word. [Display poster with splash on the top and model reading the word.] First I see there’s an sh on the end; that’s my signal that the /sh/ sound is at the end of this word. I’m going to use a cover-up to get the first part. [Uncover and blend sequentially before the vowel, then blend with the vowel.] /s//p/ = /sp/ + /l/ = /spl/. Now I’m going to blend that with the /a/ = /spla/. Now all I need is the end, /sh/ = /splash/. Splash, say that. Now it’s your turn, everyone come together. [Have children read words in unison. Afterwards, call on individuals to read one word on the list until everyone has had a turn.]

       6.     Say: You’ve done a great job and reading words with our new spelling for /sh/: sh. Now we are going to read a book called The Crash in the Shed. This is a story about two friends named Tim and Jan who love to collect things. But they can’t decide whether they should collect fish or shells. Suddenly they hear a crash in the shed – sounds like trouble! Let’s pair up and take turns reading The Crash in the Shed to find out what’s happening in the shed! [Children pair up and take turns reading alternate pages each while the teacher walks around the room monitoring progress. After individual paired reading, the class rereads The Crash in the Shed aloud together, and stops between pages to discuss the plot.]

       7.     Say: That was a fun story. What could Tim and Jan not decide about? Right, they couldn’t agree on what to do with their day. Who caused the crash? That’s right, Elf, the cat. Before we finish up with our lesson about sh says /sh/, I want to see how you can solve a mystery coloring picture. Your job is to listen to the two words that are represented by a picture at the top of the page. If the word in the picture has the same beginning or ending sound as the image’s name, you will color that word orange or yellow. If the word doesn’t have that beginning or ending sound, you will color it blue. When you are finished, you can come look at my picture on my desk to make sure you have colored yours correctly. [Collect worksheets to evaluate individual child progress.]


Amanda Earnest, Shushing sh:

Murray, G. The Crash in the Shed. Reading Genie:

Assessment Worksheet:

Reference Lesson, “Oh, I Didn’t Know!” by Geri Murray:

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