Erin Rice
Lesson Design for Beginning Reading

Theo and His Thirty Thirsty Brothers

Rationale: In order to learn to read and spell words, children need to understand digraphs so they can match letters to their phonemes.  In this lesson, children will learn to recognize the digraph /th/ in both spoken and written words by practicing reading and spelling words containing /th/.  The children will also learn /th/ through meaningful representation.  Specifically, the children will participate in a letterbox lesson to gain understanding of this concept.

Materials: Elkonin Letter Boxes; letters: t, h, n, m, r, b, k, c, l, f, i, o, e; flashcards with the Letterbox words on them (one set per two children), primary paper and pencils, Changes in Seasons by Elizabeth Sengel (Phonics Readers Plus Series)

1. [Begin the lesson by writing th on the board for the students to see.]  We’ve learned about the sound this letter pair makes when it is together.  What does this say? [pointing to board] Correct. When we see these two letters together, they say /th/. Today we are going to work on reading and spelling words with /th/ in them.
2.  [Write the following tongue twister on the board.] Let’s say this tongue twister together: Theo and his thirty thirsty brothers threw thimbles and thread.  [Class repeats tongue twister together] Did anyone hear /th/ in any other parts of words besides the beginning? [Discuss how /th/ can also be found in the middle and end of words-as in brother and with.]  Now let’s repeat the tongue twister and really draw out our sounds when we say /th/.
3. [Students will take out letterboxes and necessary letters for the lesson.]  Now we are going to spell out some words with /th/ in them.  We are going to spell only one sound in each of our boxes when we spell the words.  When we see t and h together, we know they only make one sound. So if we are spelling /th/, we will put the two letters in the same letterbox.  [Check for questions. Model one example on the board: Spell with using three letterboxes…./w/ /i/ /th/.] Let’s spell some words.  Remember, if two letters make one sound, we put both of the letters in the same box.  [Teacher will call out the following three and four phoneme words to the students.]

Three-phoneme words
(three letterboxes)
thin /th/ /i/ /n/
moth /m/ /o/ /th/
with /w/ /i/ /th/

Four-Phoneme Words
(four letterboxes)
think /th/ /i/ /n/ /k/
cloth /c/ /l/ /o/ /th/
fifth /f/ /i/ /f/ /th/

4. In pairs, the students will use flashcards to practice reading aloud the words used in the letterbox lesson.
5. Students will read Changes in Seasons by Elizabeth Sengel (Phonics Readers Plus Series) to practice reading words with /th/.  While they are reading, they will make a list of the words in the book containing /th/ to be assessed by the teacher.

Eldredge, J. Lloyd.  (1995) Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms New Jersey:
Prentice Hall. 54-57.
Murray, Bruce and Lesniak T. (1999) The Letterbox Lesson: A hands-on approach to
teaching decoding.  The Reading Teacher, 52. 644-650.

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