The Fish Said "Shhh"

Beginning Readers Design
By: Cendy Burbic

For children to become fluent readers, they must begin with an understanding that letters represent phonemes, which are the vocal gestures they hear. Students must also understand that vocal gestures are represented by graphemes, which are the letters that are seen. These phonemes can be represented by one single letter or a combination of letters. It does not matter if they are made up of one or more letters, the phonemes make up one single sound. When a combination of letters makes up a sound, we call this a digraph. The goal for this particular lesson is to help students understand that digraphs are made up of more than one letter but only produce one vocal gesture. The digraph taught in this lesson is /sh/. Students will be able to recognize audibly and visually the phoneme and grapheme /sh/ in text as well as learn to spell and read /sh/ words through the use of letterboxes.

1.    "When you are at school, and the class is getting too loud, what does the teacher say? Shhh……that's right! Shhh is a very special sound that we are going to talk about today. Remember when we talked about words and how words are made up of special sounds. Well would you believe that sh is a sound? But it's not just a sound, it is very special. Many times when we hear one sound, it is written with one letter, but sometimes we have special sounds that are spelled with two letters. Sh is one of these 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 when she/he is explaining this)."

2.    "Now Class, we are going to pretend that we're all being too loud and lets all say sh together. Ready? sh, Very good. Now let's do it again, but when we say sh I want you to place your index finger over your lips as if you we're really telling someone to be quiet. (Teacher will model finger over lips to show students). Ready? sh Very good!"

3.    "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 great job.  Ready? Here I go:"

    "Shelly shops for fish food, shells, and ships." "
Very Good!"

4.     "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.    "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 for a moment pretend we're all alligators, and when we stretch the sound, open your mouth really wide like an alligator does. Ok?" Sssshhhhelly sssshhhhops for fisssshhhh food, sssshhhhells, and sssshhhhips. "Wonderful work!"
6.    "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 fish 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, ffffiiiisssshhhh. After slowly sounding out the word, I will place the f in the first box, I in the second box, and /sh/ 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 shop, wish, ship, and dish. Great Job! Now open four letterboxes, spell crash, fresh, flash. Super! 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.    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 for participation) 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/ then ask them where they see the /sh/ in the word and have them point to it. Then 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.    "Now it's your turn to find some /sh/ words. I have a copy of One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish for each of you. With a partner I want you to take turns reading the book. 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 of the ocean and write all our /sh/ words in the ocean, since our book is about fish." (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.    "Now I am going to give you a sheet of paper that has some pictures on it. First of all, I want you to write the word underneath the picture, telling me what the picture is. Next, 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 fine, just remember to use your inside voices. When everyone is done, you may color the pictures." (picture sheet will have pictures of ship, shirt, dog, shoe, house, shell, hand) When the students make a list of the words from One Fish, Two Fish, Red fish, Blue fish, the lists may be turned in and graded as a reading assessment.


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

Geisel, Theodor Seuss.  One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.  Random House Publishers, 1960.

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