Mary Ann Harbour
Beginning Reading Design

All Aboard the Choo-Choo Train

Rationale: As a beginning reader, children must learn the letter combinations (digraphs) that stand for specific mouth moves. They must learn that when certain letters are together in a word, they stand for a specific mouth move. In this lesson, I will help children recognize the consonant digraph /ch/ in written and spoken language. Students should be able to identify digraphs (like /ch/) in words they read and spell.

Materials:  Elkonin letterboxes
                 Letter manipulative ­ch (taped together), i, p, ee (taped together), s, e, o, r, a, m
                 Book: Chip Gets a Dog (published by Steck Vaughn Company)
                 Tongue twister on chart
                 Primary paper and pencil
                 Train worksheet
                 Cards with "ch" on one side and "?" on other

1. I will introduce this lesson by saying “Sometimes two letters get together and make a special sound. Now, we will talk about the mouth moves that C and H make when they get together. Together, they say /ch/. Say it slowly, and tell me what moves your mouth makes. When I say /ch/, my lips pucker and my tongue presses against my teeth. Air also moves between my tongue and teeth. An example of this /ch/ sound is the sound the train makes.  “ch…ch…choo-choo!”
2. "Let’s try a tongue twister (on chart). “Chip’s cheetah loves chicken, cheese, and chocolate chip cookies.” We will all say it together once, and then we will all say it again, but we will stretch out the /ch/ sound. “Ccccchhhhip’s cccchhhheetah.” Nice job boys and girls."
3. (Use Elkonin boxes). “Remember from last week how we used the letterboxes for the /sh/ sound. Well this week we will use them for the /ch/ sound. Now that we know what sound the /ch/ makes, we can spell some words with the /ch/ sound in them. Everyone will get one set of letterboxes, and everyone will get ten letters. Turn them over on the lowercase side. The C and H are taped together to remind us that they make the /ch/ sound. The CH will go on one letterbox because they make one sound. When we spell a word, we will have the same number of boxes as sounds.” Everyone will now spell chip, cheese, chop, chat, rich and champ at their table. I will go around to make sure they understand what to do.
4. “Now, everyone take out your primary paper and pencil. Remember that when you see the C and H next to each other they make the /ch/ sound. Copy the tongue twister down off the chart. When you are done, please come show me so I can check it, and then I will pass out the train sheets.” I will let each child color the train and name it. They will name it something with the /ch/ sound (like the cheese, chocolate or chip train). We will hang these up outside on the wall together so that they will make one long choo-choo train.
5. Now, we will play a game. I will call on some of you to answer these questions. You must tell me why you chose this answer. “Do you hear /ch/ in champ or camp? Chip or cookie? Rich or poor? Now, I will pass out special cards with “ch” one on side and “?” on the other. Show me the /ch/ side if you hear the /ch/ sound in words and the “?” if you don’t.” One by one, I will say, chip, camp, cheetah, lick, cheese, chocolate, train, and tooth.
6. Now, I will read the book Chip Gets a Dog, and talk about it. I will read it again and let the children hold up their “ch” cards when they hear words with the /ch/ sound in the book.
7. For assessment, I will pass out a worksheet with pictures. They will circle the words that have the /ch/ sound. The pictures will be of a ship, chocolate chip, fish, kite, chair, church, child, cherry, cook, cheerleader and book.

*Murray, B.A. and Lesniak, T. (1999). "The Letterbox Lesson: A hands-on approach to teaching decoding." The Reading Teacher, 43, 282-295.
 *Davis, Dara. Shhh…She is sleeping.

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