The Little Engine that Chattered Choo Choo

 S. Lauren Harper

Emergent Literacy

Rationale: Phonemic Awareness is an essential part of becoming a fluent and automatic reader. In order for children to become automatic readers, they must learn grapheme and phoneme correspondences that help them identify written words. This lesson will help give students a basic understanding of ch=/ch/ in spoken and written words by giving them a memorable representation of sound and by exposing them to that sound in written words. The students will read and   recognize /ch/ in written and spoken words.


Materials:  primary paper, pencils, the book Copies of Choo, Choo, the Story of a Little Engine Who Ran Away. Published by Houghton Miflin, Co. (1937) Written by Burton, Virginia Lee, a small box, chick stickers, and picture pages with chips, apple, cherries, hat, chocolate, bee, coins, cab, people chattering



1. The teacher will review the consonant digraph sh=/sh/ in shadow, shape, and ashes, and the students will point to an object in the room that includes the /sh/ sound.

2. The teacher will introduce the diagraph /ch/ and remind them that they will become spectacular readers when they consistently practice sounds and Letter pairs. The teacher will show the students a chatter box that includes a collection of words that includes the /ch/ phoneme. The students will practice saying /ch/ when the box opens. The students will share their /ch/ phonemes with each other by saying /ch/ to their partners, watching to see the shape their mouths make. 

3. Discuss the phoneme with the students: Have you ever heard a train passing by and went “Chugga Chugga”? Well the /ch/ sound in chugga is the sound we are going to chatter about today.


4. The teacher will ask the students: Do you hear /ch/ in chapel or steeple? Chicken or beef? Bunch or bone? Nuts or chocolate? Cherry or fruit? Coins or change?

 5. The teacher will show the students the chatter box and have the students recite the tongue twister “Cattery chickens chomp cherries with bunches of chocolate.” After saying it once the students wilt then say it again emphasizing on the /chl sound.

6. The students will take out primary paper and pencils and practice writing the “c” and the “h” to make the /ch/ sound.  The teacher will model examples on the board: Begin just below the fence and start to thaw a circle up to the fence line on the ‘V left side and down to the sidewalk, and then stop right above the sidewalk on the right side. Next for the h, thaw a straight up and down line from the rooftop to the sidewalk, and then bounce back up to the fence and make a hump going back down to the sidewalk.

7.  When the students write “ch” correctly, the teacher will hand out chick (little yellow baby chickens) stickers and ask the students to practice their chatter’s (/ch/’s) while making a row of “ch’s.” The teacher will remind the students that whenever they see the letters ch together they make the sound/ch/.

8. The teacher will hand out copies for students to read Choo, Choo, the Story of a Little Engine Who Ran Away.  At the appropriate parts the class will say “Chugga, chugga, choo choo.” in unison and pretend to be pulling the train whistle when they hear the /ch/ sound. And when they are finished, tell them to write down all the words that they find in the book with the /ch/ sound. List all of these words on the chart (Chip, chair, chores, catch, chain, choke, chum, teach, fetch, beach, itch).

 9. For assessment, the teacher will hand out the pages that have pictures arranged with enough space to label the words that have the /ch/ sound.  The teacher will go around the room and assess


 •      Amanda Mahoney “Under the Umbrella”

 •      Leigh Anne Brace, “Chugga chugga chugga chugga Choo Chool



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