Sh, Sh, It's Sheila the Shark!


Beginning Reading Design

Callie White



        In order for children to become fluent readers, they must understand that letters represent phonemes, which are the vocal gestures they hear in words.  Phonemes can be represented by one letter or a combination of letters.  When a combination of letters makes a single sound, it is called a digraph.  The purpose of this lesson is to help students understand that two letters put together can make one sound.  In this lesson, children will learn that when s and h are put together, it forms the sound /sh/ by recognizing /sh/ in spoken words, doing letterbox lessons, and reading The Crash in the Shed.



         Class copies of The Crash in the Shed

         Poster with tongue tickler: Sheila the shark shops for shells by the ships.

         Elkonin boxes for each student

         Letters for each student dash, stop, hat, cash, sheep (d,a,s,h,t,o,p,e,e,c)

         Board-sized Elkonin box and letters for teacher to model letterbox lesson in front of class

         Handouts for the class with various pictures that have the /sh/ sound (fish, mesh, cat, ash, shells, ship) The words will be listed in the right column and the pictures listed in the left column (mixed up) and the students will draw lines connecting the correct word to the correct picture.



1. Sometimes two letters put together can make one sound.  Today, we will put together the letters s and h, which makes the /sh/ sound. (Teacher writes sh on the board.)


2. Pretend we are on a big ship and we jump in the water to find sea shells, when all of a sudden we see a big fin heading our way. (Teacher puts hands in the shape of a fin on her head and repeats the /sh/ sound.)  What could it be?  It's Sheila the friendly shark!  She has come to help us learn to identify words that contain the /sh/ sound.  Did you notice that "Sheila" and "shark" both start with what sound?  Yes, /sh/, that's exactly right!  Now everyone put your hands on your head in a triangle like this and say, "Shhhhhhhhhhhh shhhhhhh shhhhhhh" like you are a shark swimming through the sea. (Teacher models shark hand gesture and mouth movement.) Very good!


3. Now, let's look at our tongue tickler on the poser board: "Sheila the shark shops for shells".  I am going to say it very slowly, and everyone look and listen for the /sh/ sound.  When you hear the /sh/ sound, make your hands like a shark.  Very nice!  Let's stretch it out together and make our hand gesture when we hear the /sh/ sound. (Teacher points to words while saying the tongue tickler with the class.) Great job everyone!


4. Now I want to see how well you can recognize the /sh/ sound in words.  Do you hear /sh/ in slow or rush?  Whisper or shout?  Malt or shake?  Dish or bowl?  Great job everyone!


5. Now everyone take out their letterboxes and letters.  Remember that each box stands for one sound, so when letters are teamed up, like s and h, they only get one box.  I am going to show you how to spell the word ship in your letterboxes. (Teacher slowly sounds out ship.) The first sound I hear is /sh/ so I will put the letters s and h in the first box. (Teacher models how to spell ship.) Let's spell some words in our letterboxes: dash, stop, hat, cash, sheep. (After teacher says each word, she walks around to make sure students are spelling the words correctly.) Now, let's read the words we spelled in our letterboxes. (Teacher writes the word dash on the board and models reading it (the same way she did ship earlier) by sounding out each phoneme, /d/a/sh/, and continues to do this with the rest of the words with the class all together.)


6. You all are doing such a great job, and I think you have this down!  I would like everyone to get with a partner and buddy read The Crash in the Shed together.  Ben and Jess can't make up their minds whether to fish or collect shells.  Suddenly they hear a crash in the shed.  Sounds like trouble!  You and your partner have to read together to find out what happens to Ben and Jess!  After reading, get students back together and ask them what words they noticed had the /sh/ sound and write them on the board.  Ask students if they can think of any other words with the /sh/ sound and write them also.


7. I am going to pass out a worksheet with some pictures on it in one column and words in the other column; I want you to draw a line from the correct word to its correct picture. (Have students turn them in and review for assessment.)



Kendrick, Lauren. "Ssshhopping for Ssshhells" Auburn University Reading Genie Website, 2005.


Murray, B.A. and Lesniak, T. (1999). "The Letterbox Lesson: A hands on approach for teaching decoding." The Reading Teacher, 52, 644-650.


Murray, Geri. The Crash in the Shed. Reading Genie Collection, 2006.


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