Chuga Chuga Choo Choo
by Chandler Chauvin
Beginning Reading Design


 In order for children to learn to read and spell words, they need to understand that a phoneme can be represented by more than one letter. This lesson will help children recognize digraphs. Digraphs are two letters that make only one sound. An easy digraph to start with is the correspondence ch = /ch/. It is important for children to learn that when certain letters are together in a word, they make one specific sound. Children will learn to recognize /ch/ by spelling and reading words that contain the digraph ch. After the lesson, students will know that when the two letters, c and h, appear together they make the sound /ch/.

Materials: primary paper and pencil
chart with "Chip chases Charlie to get the chocolate cherry."
class set of Elkonin boxes, one big set of Elkonin boxes and letters
baggies with letters: ch, o, p, r, i, m, u, l, n, s, t, a, d, e, c
class set of books: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault (Aladdin, 2000)
cards with ch on them (1 per student)
worksheets with /ch/ pictures for assessment (1 per student)
chalkboard and chalk

Procedures:  1. Introduce the lesson by saying, "I know that we've been learning how one letter makes one certain sound, but today we are going to look at two specific letters that make one certain sound. We will see that when we put c and h together, they make the /ch/ sound like in choo choo. Sometimes in our funny alphabet strange things happen, like when two letters make one sound.  We are about to become experts at spelling and reading the /ch/ sound in words."

2. Ask students: "Have you ever been outside and heard a train pass by?  What sound does a train make?  Good /ch/ /ch/.  It goes /ch-ch-ch-ch/ /ch-ch-ch-ch/. That's the sound that we are going to learn to spell and read today. Now let's all pretend that we are a big choo choo train and make the /ch/ sound together. /ch-ch-ch-ch-ch/."

3. Let's try a tongue twister (on chart): I am going to say a silly sentence, and I want you to listen for the /ch/ sound. "Chip chases Charlie to get the chocolate cherry." I want you to give me a thumbs up if you heard the /ch/ sound in that silly sentence. I am going to say the silly sentence again very slowly. This time, every time you hear the /ch/ sound I want you to give me a thumbs up. (Read the sentence slowly. Point to each word on the chart as you say it.) Now let's say our silly sentence together. Good! This time let's separate the /ch/ sound in each word. (Model by saying /ch/--/ip/.) Class: "Ch-ip ch-ases Ch-arlie to get the ch-ocolate ch-erry."

4. Practice finding /ch/ in spoken words:  I am going to say a few pairs of words two times.  The first time I just want you to listen for the /ch/ sound.  The second time I say the words, I want you to hold up your card with ch on it when you hear the word that has the /ch/ sound. chimp or monkey? change or money? chart or graph? eraser or chalk? catch or throw? cheat or win? Great!

5. Letterbox Lesson: I want everyone to get out your letterboxes. First, fold them so that only three boxes are showing. (Pass out baggies with only the letters that will be used in the lesson in them.) I want everyone to make sure your letters are on the lower-case side. I am going to say a few words and I want you to separate the words into the different sounds that make up the word. Model: If I say chip, I am going to think /ch/ /iii/ /p/, and place the letters in the correct boxes. (Teacher should model this on the chalkboard with big boxes and letters.) Do you see how we all have our c and h taped together? I taped these two letters together because when they are next to each other in a word, they make one sound /ch/, which means they go in the same box. Let's all try it! When I say a word, I want you to put the letters in the right boxes according to the sounds in the word. (Say words to them one at a time and walk around to check for understanding.) 3 phoneme words: chat, chop, rich, much, Chad.  4 phoneme words: lunch, chest, chimp. 5 phoneme word: crunch. Now, since you all did such a great job spelling the words, we are going to try reading the words. Now I am going to spell the words on the chalkboard for you, and I want you to read them aloud to me. Model: If I place the word chat on the chalkboard, then I am going stretch out each sound to read the word. "/ch/ /a/ /t/, chat". (Spell the letter box words one at a time on the chalkboard, and let the students read each word together. Make sure you give students a few seconds to figure out the word before anyone blurts out the word.) Great job!
6.  Read text with /ch/ sounds:  Have students take turns reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom with a partner.  Say: "After you and your partner have each read the book to one another, I want you to each make your own list of words that you found in the book that had the /ch/ sound on your primary paper.  After your lists are complete, you and your partner should compare lists to make sure you found all of the words with /ch/ in them." (The teacher should walk around while the groups are reading and writing to make sure each group is on task and does not need help.)

7. Assessment: Give each student a worksheet that has different pictures of words that have the /ch/ sound in them.  Also have a couple of words that do not have the /ch/ sound. Have the students write what the picture is beside each illustration. The pictures include: chimp, cheetah, mouse, chips, chocolate, lunch, chair, bird, chalk, crayons, chicken, and a radio. The students should color the pictures that do have the /ch/ sound in them and should not color the pictures that do not have the /ch/ sound in them. The teacher should walk around and observe the students while they work. Also, have the students read the words to you that each illustration represents. 

Misti Willoughby: "The Choo, Choo Train"

 Murray, Bruce A. and Theresa Lesniak. "The Letterbox Lesson: A Hands-on Approach for Teaching Decoding." The Reading Teacher. Vol. 52, No. 6. March, 1999. pp. 664-650.

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