Chasing Cheap Chopsticks!

Beginning Reading

Steven Webb


To learn to read and spell words children must first learn phonemes and letter correspondences.  Sometimes a phoneme is represented by two letters that go together to make one sound such as /ch/. This is what we call a digraph. Digraphs are a necessity to the use of the English Language.  Without digraphs, we would be limited in the vocabulary that we could use.  This lesson will help children understand that when they see a c and h together, they make the /ch/ sound. So that the students may learn this digraph and its use in everyday language.


Dry erase board and marker for each student

Chalk or Dry erase board

Elkonin Letterbox (1 per child)

Letters: i, p, a, s, e, r, c, h, t, l, u, n, m (one of each per student)

Chopsticks.  One pair per student.

Martin, Bill Jr. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. Simon & Schuster Inc. 1989. New York: NY.


To begin this lesson, I would review the sounds we have learned such as b /b/, s /s/, and g /g/. When the letter is alone, it makes different sounds.  I will explain to my students that two letters are placed together to make one sound like /ch/.  "What two letters placed together make /ch/?" Wait for any responses.  If no one gets it say, " well, that is what we are going to learn today." "We are going to talk bout the way our mouths move when we put c and h together."  "They say /ch/."  "Now watch the way my mouth moves when I read the word chew."  "Can everyone make that sound with me?" "Good." “What are other words that start with /ch/?” Wait for answers, recording a couple of the best answers on the board.


Write the words chop, clip, chin, and cheese on the chalkboard.  Ask which of the words does not have the /ch/ phoneme.  Read the words to the students, then have children read the words off the board.  Next, slowly reread the words from the board placing and emphasis on the /ch/.  Underline the digraph while reading the word.  Then, have the student's reread each word placing an emphasis on the /ch/.


 Write a tongue twister on the board. "Chuck chases cheap chopsticks."  Have the students copy the sentence onto his/her individual dry erase board.  Read the sentence slowly and emphasize the /ch/ sound.  Then have students read it with  you and circle the words that they hear /ch/ in. (this can be done in a group or individually depending on the class)  After allowing time for them to circle the words, have volunteers come up one at a time and circle one word on the board that has the /ch/ sound. 


Letterbox lesson:  Pass out the letterbox and letters to each student.  Remind them    how the letterbox activity works.  Tell them that each box contains a different sound.  "Remember when the c and h are side by side, they make the /ch/ sound."  Illustrate this on the board using the word chop.  Draw 3 boxes. "The first sound (I used the word "sound" so the students would understand.) in 'chop' is /ch/."  "I am going to put the c and h side by side in the first box." "Now then, /ch/o...the /o/ is next so we will put that in the second box." "We have one more box left."  "The last letter p belongs in the last box." "Let's check it to make sure we have it right." "/ch/o/p/...perfect!  Now then, does everyone understand that when the c and h are side by side they make the /ch/ sound?"  "Well, now I want you to spell these words using your letterboxes."  "But be careful, some might have a silent e!" "Does anyone remember where we place the silent e?"  "Yes that’s right, outside the last box!"  (Write words on the board·chip, chase, chat, rich.)  "Now, spell each of these words using three of your letterboxes."  "I am going to walk around to see that everyone understands."  "Please do not erase your letterbox until I tell you to."  After checking all 3 phoneme words, move on to four phoneme words (four boxes) such as (munch and lunch). 


Read:  Pass out pairs of chopsticks.  Tell the students that they can “chop” the other stick with one, every time that they hear the /ch/ phoneme.  After reading a story with the /ch/ phoneme repeated, have them reread it and chop at every work that has the phoneme.

Introduce the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Martin, 1989.).  Tell the children that each letter is climbing the coconut tree.  What will happen when X, Y, and Z get up to the top of the coconut tree?   Read to find out.

Extra practice: Have the students work in small groups to write a story with as many /ch/ phoneme words as they can find.  This story can be as silly as they want to make it.  Have them read the whole story to the class, having the class use the chopsticks as explained earlier.

Assessment:  I will make a worksheet that will have a four lines with three pictures on each line.  Each line will have a picture with a different phoneme and there will be one with the /ch/ phoneme.  For example, one line could have a picture of a table, a lamp and a chair.  The directions at the top of the worksheet will instruct the student to circle the picture that you hear the /ch/ phoneme in.


Anne Joseph, "Chomp Chomp Chocolate"

Martin, Bill Jr. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. Simon & Schuster Inc. 1989. New York: NY.

Bruce Murray, The Reading Genie

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