Jamie Ann Mathis:  Beginning Reading



Chug – a – Chug – a – Chug Choo Choo with /ch/

Rational:  Letters are visual representations of phonemes.  A digraph is two letters are combined to make on individual sound.  For successful reading fluency, students must learn how to decode a digraph.  For example, one common digraph is made when the letters c and h are put together as ch.  The ch combination says /ch/ .  In this lesson the focus will be for children to identify the correspondence ch = /ch/ in print and speech.

Materials Needed:  Chart with tongue twister:  Charlie the choo choo train goes chug – a chug – a chug down the tracks; primary paper and pencil; tape; book by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault (Simon, 1989) Chicka Chicka Boom Boom for 6 children; activity page for students; letterboxes for each student with letters c, c, h, i, p, m, u, n, a, t, e, e, r, l, u,


  1. Introduction:  Introduce the lesson by showing the students visual images of ch together.  Start by telling the students, “Today we are going to learn about a sound that two letters make together.  The letters we are going to combine today are c and h.  When these letters are join, the say /ch/.  It’s just like saying the noise a train makes.  Let’s practice by saying choo choo. (have students repeat)  Now let’s only say the /ch/ sound.  (students say /ch/ together)
  2. Practice with /ch/:  “All right, now let’s do some practice with out new sound.  We are going to say words that contain the /ch/ sound.  Try the word chunk (children say word).  Great, now let’s break our word to two segments.  Try separating the /ch/ from the rest of the word.  Like this ch – unk (children repeat).”  Continue practice with words champ, punch, and munch.
  3. Tongue Twister:  “I have made up a tongue twister to go along with our /ch/ sound.  I want everyone to read it together.  Charlie the choo choo train went chug –a –chug – a chug down the tracks.  Good, this time when we read it let’s clap every time we read the /ch/ sound.”
  4. Listening for /ch/in spoken words:  “Now we are going to listen to hear what words have /ch/ in them and what words do not.  I would like for you to raise your hand to tell me which word I say has the /ch/ sound in it.  Does chicken or duck?  mean or charm?  Hot or chilly? 
  5. LBL:  “Ok, now we are going to do a letter box lesson on our sound /ch/.  Would everyone please take out your letter boxes.  The sound /ch/ is one sound so we need to tape our letters c and h together to place in only one box.  Is everyone ready to begin?  Our first word will need three boxes.  The word is chip.”  Continue using words chin, chat, cheer (3), champ, lunch, pinch (4), crunch (5).  After them spelling, put words back together for them to read.
  6. Reading:  Each child will need a copy of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  “I am going to give you a book that I would like for you each to read silently.  When you finish, go back and record each word that you read with /ch/ in it.  Mark these findings on your paper for me.  When we all finish, we are going to discuss the words that we found.”  When children are finished, review the words with /ch/.
  7. Assessment:  Check to make sure all the words that they wrote down from their book begin with /ch/.  Have a activity paper with pictures of a chicken, change, church, dog, cheese, crackers, potatoes, and brush on it.  Ask the children to circle the pictures that when spelled and said contain the digraph /ch/.  Also have the students write the words under the picture.


Reference:  Katie Allred :  Cha, Cha, Cha with /ch/

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. p 664-650.

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For further information, send email to mathija@auburn.edu