Say Cheese!
Laura Lansdon
Beginning Reading

Rationale: In order for students to become successful readers, they must learn to recognize phonemes in both spoken and written words.  Diagraphs are important phonemes for children to recognize.  This lesson will help children learn to recognize the phoneme /ch/ in spoken and written words, as well as learning to spell words using this diagraph.

Materials: primary paper, three to five copies of A Peach for Chad by Anna Cimochowski, a set of Elkonin letterboxes and an envelope with the letters: a, b, c, e, h, i, l, m, n, o, p, r, s, t, u for each child, assessment sheet with five sets of letterboxes (#1-3, #2-3, #3-3, #4-4, #5-4).

Procedures: 1. Teacher will introduce the lesson by writing the letter c and h on the board (not beside each other).  Have children give the sound for each letter (/k/ and /h/).  Then write the letters side by side and tell the students that together c and h make the /ch/ sound.  Tell students that it is the sound you hear when the photographer says "Say Cheese!" (emphasize /ch/).  Have them say the sound, noticing how their mouths move when they say it.

2. Write this tongue twister on the board: Charlie chopped the cheese into chunks.  Say it once and then have students say it with you.  Next tell them to drag out the /ch/ sound. Chchcharlie chchchopped the chchcheese into chchchunks.  Ask students to name the words that have /ch/ in them and write those words on the board, underlining the ch. Ask: Do you hear /ch/ in chimp or blimp? chalk or walk? cheer or close?  Praise students for correct answers.

3. Say: Now we are going to practice spelling words with /ch/ in them.  (Draw three letterboxes on the board, or adapt for different words.)  First we're going to spell the word chat.  I've drawn three letterboxes on the board because chat has three sounds.  Let's break them up: /ch/ /a/ /t/.  The first sound is /ch/ and I know it's made with the letters c and h.  I'll put those two letters in the first box.  Does everyone understand why they go in the same box? Good, because they make one sound.  Okay, the next sound is /a/, and I know that's made with the letter a.  It goes in the second box.  Then the last sound is /t/ so the letter t goes in the last box.  Let's say the sounds together: /ch/ /a/ /t/, and what word is that? chat, good. Now I'm going to pass out some letters and letterboxes to you so that you can practice spelling words with /ch/.

4. Pass out letterboxes and envelopes with correct letters.  Tell students to lay out all their letters, lowercase side up.  Say: Okay our first word is going to have three sounds so make sure you have three letterboxes on your desk.  The first word I want you to spell is chop."  Teacher should check each child's letterboxes before moving on.  Call on one student to explain how he has spelled the word.  Repeat this step, adjusting the number of letterboxes as needed, with each of the following words: chip, rich--3; champ, chest, lunch--4.  Be sure to check students' work and have someone model correct spelling.  After they have spelled all the words, list them on the board and have the class read the list.

5. Split students up into groups of three or five.  Have one group at a time go to the back of the room and read A Peach for Chad to you.  Tell the other students to write the tongue twister from the board on their paper to get practice writing ch.  Be sure to let every student read and check their sentences.

6.  For assessment, pass out the worksheet with letterboxes to each student.  Tell them that you are going to call out words and they will write the spelling in those boxes.  Remind students that only each box stand for one sound.  Call out these words: 1) chap--3, 2) such--3, 3) check--3, 4) chimp--4, 5) chant--4.

Murray, B.A. & Lesniak, T. (1999). The letterbox lesson: A hands-on approach for
 teaching decoding. The Reading Teacher, 52, 644-650.

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