Shhhhhh the Baby is Sleeping!

Beginning Reader


Lindsay Graves


When children begin to read, they try sounding out each letter so that they can come up with the unknown word. However this does not work for all words. Children who are beginner readers need to understand that two letters joined together can represent one sound. This is known as a digraph. The digraph that this lesson will be on are the letters s and h which together make the /sh/ sound. This lesson will help students identify the /sh/ sound in words. The students will learn to recognize the /sh/ sound in spoken words through the use of meaningful representations such as the mouth moves, hand gestures, and tongue twisters. This lesson should also help students learn how to spell words with the sh digraph.


1. Pencils
2. Colors
3. Lower case letters for each student (c, f, h, i, k, l, n, o, p, r, s, t) in a zip
    lock bag
4. Letter box squares for each student
5. Book (Sheep on a Ship by Nancy E. Shaw)
6. Marker board with markers
7. Tongue Twister on chart paper
8. Sh worksheet with pictures; however, it must include pictures that include
    the sh digraph and others that do not. Ex: ship, bag, fan, shell, sheep,

    fish, shoes, and cap.



1.    Procedures:

    Students need to understand that every letter has its own mouth move and makes a particular sound. Explain to students that,  
    ”today we will be learning that we can combine two letters to make one sound.” The students will learn how to spell words with
     the sh digraph and will be able to recognize spoken words with the /sh/ sound in them. “The /sh/ sound can be tricky but with
     some practice you will be able to spot all kinds of words that make the /sh/ sound.”

 2.   Explain Why:

Have you ever heard a mother say /sh/ because a baby was sleeping? That’s the mouth move we make when we say these words. Now I want you to put your finger to your lip and say sh. We say sh when we want someone to be quiet because they are too loud. So say /sh/ and let’s get started!

 3.   Review:

        Let’s begin by saying a tongue twister: The sheep wore shell shoes while fishing on the ship (This will be displayed on chart paper
        in the front of the class). Who can tell me what sound they heard the most? They will say /sh/. “Great! Now can everyone say sh
        ”Class I want everyone to say the tongue twister with me three times. . Now let’s say it again, but this time I want you to drag out
        the /sh/ in the words while making the hand gesture. The shhhhheep wore shhhhhell shhhhhoes while shhhhhaking on the shhhhhip.
        This time I want you to break the sh off the word. /Sh/ eep wore /sh/ ell /sh/ oes while /sh/ aking on the /sh/ ip. 

 4.   Explain How:

        Now we are going to use individual letters and boxes to spell words with the sh digraph. When we spell words using our
        letterboxes we need to remember that, only one sound can go into each box. “Who can tell me how many boxes I need for the word
        she?” Two that is right! “Who can tell me the two sounds?” They will say /sh/ and /E/. 

5.   Model:

       You said the word shed has three sounds which were /sh/, /e/, and /d/. (Model this for students on the marker board) In the
       first box we will put the /sh/ sound which would be the letters s and h. In the second box we will put the /e/ sound which would
       be the letter e. In the third box we will put the /d/ sound which would be the letter d.  Great job class! Now I am going to say
       several words with the sh digraph in them and I want you to try to spell them using your letters and letterboxes.

 6.    Practice:
       Letterbox Lesson:

        The students will spell words using individual letters and letterboxes.
        “ Everyone take your bag of letters and your letter boxes and lay them flat on your desk. I want you to turn over
         your letters so that you can read each letter.” The following are a list of words that the teacher will call out to the students:

3 phonemes        4 phonemes        5 phonemes
      ship                  shift                shrink


Letters needed: c, f, h, i, k, l, n, o, p, r, s, t      

    *  The teacher should walk around the room and view the students’ spelling of each word called out. Have the student say the word
        they spelled. Model for the students how you want them to read to them. “Listen to me as I read this word /sh/ /e/ /d/. If the
        student spells the word wrong say the word they spelled. An example would be: if the word was “shift” but they spelled it sheft
then be sure to pronounce the word as /sh/ /e/ /f/ /t/. Having the students say each phoneme and blending the sounds to say the
        words allows you as a teacher to know if they understand letter-sound relations.

Which words have the sh digraph?

The students will tell me which word has the sh digraph in it.

     Fish or Witch               Chip or Ship
Shift or Sift                Shop or Hop

Rink or Shrink             Wish or Was

        Phoneme Association Game and a Rhyme Association Game

*    I want you to raise your hand if you know the answer to my riddle. Each answer has the sh digraph and makes the /sh/ sound.

1.      I am thinking of animal that lives in the sea.
     Answer: Fish
2.     I am thinking of something a genie can grant.
     Answer: Wish
3.    I am thinking of something you can find at the beach in the sand.
     Answer: Shell

4.    I am thinking of something you wear on your feet.
     Answer: Shoe

6.  Whole Text:

Next students will read the book Sheep on a Ship by Nancy E. Shaw with a partner. Be sure to take turns allowing each student to read. The students will use the hand gesture when they hear a word in the text that has the /sh/ sound. After reading the book we will write down all the words in the story that had the sh digraph.

7.   Assessment

Each student will be a given a worksheet with various pictures on it that has the sh digraph and makes the /sh/ sound. . Some pictures will not have the digraph sh and won’t have the /sh/ sound. The students will have to decide which pictures do and will color them. This will allow me to know if students can recognize the letter-sound correspondence for the sh digraph. (sh=/sh/)

        Auburn University Reading Genie Website: “
Ssshhopping for Ssshhells”  by Lauren Kendrick.

         Elderedge, J. Lloyd. (2005). Teach Decoding: Why and How, 2nd ed. Upper
              Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

          Murray, Bruce. Mouth Moves and Gestures for Phonemes

          Murray, Bruce. Teaching Letter Recognition

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

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