Shelly the Shell at the Seashore

pink shell

Beginning Literacy Design

By: Hannah Dupre


Children's understanding of phonemes is vital to their survival as readers. Because of this necessity, we must teach children how to be phonemically aware. The problem is that children sometimes struggle to understand even the most basic phoneme concepts. One of the difficult concepts in phonemic awareness is the ability to understand digraphs. This lesson will specifically focus on the digraph sh=/sh/. It is important that students are able to recognize these two letters together and the sound that they make. In this lesson they will learn how to recognize sh=/sh/ by spelling and reading words with this correspondence.


1.Primary paper (1 per student)

2.Pencils (1 per student)

3.Chart with "She sells seashells by the seashore"

      4.Class set of Elkonin boxes, one big set of Elkonin boxes and letters

      5.Baggies with letters: sh, e, a, o, u, r, s, p, t

      6.Chalk and chalkboard

      7.Sheep on a Ship by Nancy E. Shaw


1.To begin the lesson I will talk about how we have already started learning  about how one letter makes a certain sound, but now we are going to look at two specific letters that make a certain sound. I will tell them that when you put the s and h together, they will make the /sh/ sounds like in "shell." I will explain that we are going to become experts at spelling and reading the /sh/ sound in words.

2.Can anyone tell me what sound your mom or dad makes when they want you to quiet down? Your right! It is shh. Can we all practice saying shhh. Did you notice how your mouth moved to make that sound. Watch as I say shh again. You have probably also noticed that when someone says shh they usually put their index finger to their mouth. We are going to use this motion when we hear the /sh/ sound today.

3.Today we are going to try a tongue twister. There will be words in the tongue twister that make the sound /sh/, when you hear the sound I want you to put your index finger to your mouth like you would when you say shhh. Now I am going to read the tongue twister very slowly, "She sells seashells by the seashore." Good job! Will you say the tongue twister with me now?

4.Now, we are going to search to find the /sh/ in spoken words.  I want you to tell me when you hear the sound. Do you hear it in shop or sip? Grape or shape? Push or pull? Shirts or pants? Shells or sand?

5.(Letterbox Lesson) Can everyone get their letterboxes out? I want you to fold them so that only three boxes are showing. I will pass out the baggies with only the letters they will need for the lesson. Next, I tell the students that I am going to say a few words and I want them to separate the words into the different sounds the makeup that word. First I will model by saying the word ship, then separating the words /sh/ /i/ /p/, and finally place the correct letters in the correct boxes. Did you notice how I had my s and h together in the same box? This is because they are one sound, which means they go together in one box. Now let's all try it! When I saw a word, I want you to put your letters in the right boxes according to the sounds in the word. I will say the words out loud to the children. The 3 phoneme words are shop, cash, dish and the 4 phoneme words are flesh. Now, since you all did such a wonderful job of spelling the words I want you to try to read the words. I will write the word on the board and I want you to read it aloud to me. I will model by writing the word shut on the board and then read it out loud. I will make sure all of the students wait a few seconds before blurting out the word so that everyone can have a chance to figure out the word.


6.Next, we are going to partner read Sheep on a Ship. I will introduce the book with a book talk. The book talk will be able the misadventures of a group of sheep that are stuck on a pirate ship. In order to find out if these sheep get away you will have to read the rest of the book. Once they are introduced to the book I will explain that they will take turns reading the book and when they come to a word with /sh/ in it I want them to write down the word. Once they have found all of the words in the book and both of them have read the book we will make a poster of all the words.

7.Finally, I will assess the students when they read new real words. The 3 phoneme words are ship, fish, sheep, shook, and shag. The 4 phoneme words are brush and flush.


Shaw, Nancy E. Sheep on a ship. Houghton Mifflin; Reprint edition 1992.

Edema, Katie. Ssshhelly the Ssshhark goes Sssshhopping.

Dekle, Natalie. Shhhiny Shhoes!

Cox, Allison. Shhhh!!!!           

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