Beginning Reading


In order to help young students become more fluent readers, they must begin with an understanding that the auditory cues they here while reading certain words are called phonemes. Students must also understand that these vocal gestures are represented by graphemes, the letters that are seen whilst reading. 
The goal for this particular lesson is to help students understand that digraphs (phonemes with more than one letter) may be made up of more than one letter but they still produce only one oral signal. The digraph taught in this lesson is /sh/. Students will be able to recognize audibly and visually the phoneme and grapheme, /sh/, in text form and they will also learn to spell and read /sh/ words through the use of letterboxes lessons. 

One pencil per student
One piece of primary paper per student
Small white board and white board markers for teacher use only
A poster with tongue twister on it "Shelly shops for shark bait, ships, and shells."
Multiple copies of “Shhhh” by Jeanne Willis
Elkonin boxes for each student
Double sided and laminated letters (a, c, d, e, f, h, I, l, o, p, s, and w) for each student

1.   Teacher: "When you are sitting in class at school, and the class is getting too noisy, what does the teacher say? Shhh……that's right! Shhh is a very unique sound that we are going to focus on today. Remember when we talked about words and how words are made up of special sounds? Well would you believe that sh is actually a sound rather than a word? But it's not just a simple sound; it is very special. Oftentimes when we hear one sound, it is written with just one letter. However, we sometimes have special sounds that are spelled with two letters. Sh is an example of that kind of sounds. When we find an S and an H next to each other, they make the special sound sh.” (Teacher should write S and H on the board during explanation)

2.    Teacher: "Now boys and girls, we are going to make-believe that we're all being too loud and lets all say sh together. Ready? Shhh. wonderful! Now let's do it again, but when we say sh I want you to place your index finger over your lips just like you would do if you were telling your neighbor or your friend to be quiet. (Teacher will model this action). Ready? Shhh. Fantastic!" 

3.    Teacher: "Now I have a tongue twister for you all to read. Each time you hear our special sh sound I want you to put your finger over your mouth, like you're telling somebody to sh or be quiet. We practiced earlier, so I know you all will do a wonderful job.  Ready? Here I go:"

    "Shelly shops for shark bait, ships, and shells." 
“Fabulous job!"

4.  Teacher: "Now I will show you the sentence I have written and when I point to each word that has sh in it, I want you to put your finger over your mouth like we practiced and say sh. Great Job!"
5.  Teacher: "Now let's read the sentence together and each time we hear the sh sound, let's stretch it out, just like this fissssshhhhhhh. Lets pretend for just a moment we're all sharks, and when we stretch the sound, open your mouth really wide like a shark does. Ok?" Sssshhhhelly sssshhhhops for sssshhhhaaaarrrrkkkk bait, sssshhhhells, and sssshhhhips. "Brilliant!"
6. Teacher: "Everyone please take out your letterboxes and letters that I have given you. Now pay attention. I am going to show you how to spell shark in your letterboxes." (Draw letterboxes on the board and model how to use letters and letterboxes.) Remind the students that each box contains a mouth move and sh sound is only one mouth move. I will model how spelling with letterboxes should be done, sssshhhhaaaarrrrkkkk. After slowly sounding out the word, I will place the /sh/ in the first box, /a/ in the second box, and /r/ in the third box and /k/ in the last box. "Okay class now it's your turn to try and spell some words that contain /sh/." As the students are spelling the words I will walk around the room to assist the students and check for understanding. I will also have a clipboard, so I may take notes if necessary (assessment). "Everyone open up two letterboxes and spell ash. Open three letterboxes; now spell the following: shop, wish, ship, and dish. Great Job! Now open four letterboxes and spell these words: crash, fresh, flash. Excellent! Now that we have spelled the words in the letterboxes let's see if we can recognize those words with out the letterboxes." (Write the words on the board and point to them having the class as a whole tell you what they are).

7. Teacher: “Now I'm going to write some words on my board (small white board in lap). When I turn the board around, think about it for five seconds, and then I want you to say /sh/ if you see the /sh/ in this word. (The five seconds should give the entire class a chance to participate) Ready? (Write first word on board ‘dish’). Give all students the opportunity to say /sh/ if they think it is in this word. If you hear students say /sh/, ask them where they see the /sh/ in the word and have them point to it. Next, ask students when they hear the /sh/. Is it at the beginning, middle, or end of the word? Then repeat this for each word following:
a.    dish 
b.    shop 
c.    dog 
d.    shoe 
e.    wash 

8.    Teacher: "Since we have been talking about a certain /sh/ sea creature and we have also talked about the /sh/ sound we make when asking people to be quiet, we are going to read a book that talks about /sh/ a litte bit more! I have a copy of the book “Shhh” for each of you. With a partner I want you to take turns reading the book and find some /sh/ words in it. When you come to a word that has a /sh/ in it, I want you to write it down. When everyone is finished, we will make a poster and write all our /sh/ words on it. We can even write our words on drawings of sharks since we started our lesson by talking about sharks." (Give students time to finish reading the book and writing their words down. As a class compile a list of the words with /sh/ in them.) 

9. Teacher: "Now I am going to give you a sheet of paper that has some pictures on it. First, I want you to write the word underneath the picture that tells me what the picture is. Afterwards, I want you to circle the picture if it has our special sh sound in it. If you need to say the word out loud to figure out if it has our special sound then that is perfectly fine, just remember to use your inside voices so nobody has to Shhh you! When everyone is done, you may color the pictures." (Picture sheet will have pictures of ship, shirt, dog, shoe, house, shell, and hand) When the students make a list of the words from Shhh by Jeanne Willis, the lists may be turned in and graded as a reading assessment. (This is the assessment added from peer review)


  • Auburn University Reading Genie Website, Beginning Reader Design, Kelly McIntosh, "The Fish said Shh." 

  • Auburn University Reading Genie Website, Beginning Reader Design, Cendy Burbic
“The Fish Said Shh.”

  • Willis, Jeanne. Shhh.  Paw Print Publishers, 2007.