Shhh Here and There

Beginning Reading
Landon McKean



Just as students need to learn how to recognize each vowel sound, they also need to learn the concepts of vowel and consonant digraphs to become a fluent reader.  Students must begin with an understanding that letters represent phonemes, which are the vocal gestures they hear, as well as an understanding that vocal gestures are represented by graphemes, which are the letters that are seen.  Phonemes can either be represented by a single letter or by a combination of letters.  A digraph is a combination of letters that make one single sound.  The goal for this particular lesson is to help students understand that digraphs are made up of more than one letter but only produce one vocal gesture. The digraph taught in this lesson is /sh/.  The children will learn how to identify the digraph /sh/, its spelling, and its use in words and language.  Students will be able to recognize audibly and visually the phoneme and grapheme /sh/ in text as well as learn to spell and read /sh/ words through the use of letterboxes.



Chart with tongue twister

Elkonin boxes for each student

Letter tiles of the letters [a, b, c, e, f, h, i, l, l, o, p, r, s, t, u, w]


Copy of the “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” poem for each student

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss- enough for each pair of students

Primary paper for each student

Pencil for each student


Copy of the shark coloring page for each student

Copy of the sheep coloring page for each student

Crayons for each student

TV and VCR

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, video

Copy of the /sh/ assessment worksheet for each student



1.  Introduce the lesson by explaining that more than one letter can represent a phoneme.  “Today we are going to talk about a special phoneme.  We already know the sounds s and h make when they are by themselves, but today we are going to find out the sound that they make when they are together.  Whenever s and h are together, they make the special sound /sh/, like in sheep and shark.  When two letters are put together to make one sound, it is called a digraph.  We are going to participate in several activities to learn more about the digraph sh and the sound that it makes.”

2.  “If you want someone to be quiet, what sound do you make?  "Shhh!"  When you make that sound, do you usually put your fingers in front of your mouth?  Let’s all make the /sh/ sound together.  What do you feel?  You feel air." 

3.  Model how to make the /sh/ sound.  “To properly make the /sh/ sound, put your teeth together and blow out of your mouth.  As you make the /sh/ sound bring one of your fingers to your lips.  All together say shhh.  Can you think of any words that make the /sh/ sound?”

4.  “Let’s try a tongue twister.”  First, read the tongue twister aloud to the class.  Shelly shops for fish food, shells, and ships.”  Model each reading of the tongue twister and the corresponding activity.  “Now I am going to read the tongue twister again but this time you do the /sh/ motion with a finger over your lips each time you hear /sh/.”  Hold up a chart with the tongue twister written on it.  Now I want us to all read the tongue twister together.  Let’s read it again but this time stretch out the /sh/.  When you hear the sh sound, stretch it out just like this fissssshhhhhhh.  Sssshhhhelly sssshhhhops for fisssshhhh food, sssshhhhells, and sssshhhhips.” 

5.  “For our next activity, we are going to spell and read some words that contain the consonant digraph sh.  Take out you letter boxes and fold them until you have only three boxing showing.”  Model by holding up three boxes.  “Also, take out your bag that contains the letter tiles [a, b, c, e, f, h, i, l, l, o, p, r, s, t, u, w].  Before we begin the activity tape the s and h together because they make one sound.  Listen carefully to my instructions and watch as I model the activity for you.  I am going to say a word then you are going to spell the word in your letterboxes.  Place the letters that make up one sound in one box.  For example, if I say ship, you would put sh in the first box because s and h make the /sh/ sound.  Next, you would put i in the middle box because i makes the /i/ sound.  Lastly, you would put the p in the last box because the /p/ is only one sound and it is the last sound in the word ship.”  Demonstrate on the board by drawing three boxes and placing the correct phonemes in each box.  “Now remember that our /sh/ makes one sound so this is why the two letters are taped together; because it makes one sound, it goes in one box.  Now let's begin.  I am going to say a word and I want you to spell it using the letters in front of you.  Remember only one sound for each box.”  While saying each word walk around the room monitoring the student’s progress.  3 phonemes- [shell, fish, cash, shop, wish, bash]; 4 phonemes- [brush, flush, trash]; 5 phonemes-[splash].  “Now I am going to spell the words on the board and I want you to read them aloud.  For example, if I put sh-i-p on the board, you say each sound together to make the word ship.  The first sound is /sh/, the second sound is /i/, and the third sound is /p/.  Now say the sounds together until you say the word ship.”  Write each word on the board and have the students read them as a class. 

6.  “Now, I am going to read a poem called “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” and I want you to listen for the /sh/ sound.”  Read the poem aloud to students.

Baa, baa, black sheep,

Have you any wool?

Yes, sir, yes, sir,

Three bags full:

One for my master,

One for my dame,

And one for the little boy

Who cries in the lane.

Baa, baa, black sheep,

Have you any wool?

Yes, sir, yes, sir,

Three bags full.

 “When I read the poem a second time, I want you to listen for the /sh/ sound.  If you hear the /sh/ sound place your finger over your lips.”  Pass out a copy of the poem to each student.  Point out the words that contain the /sh/ sound and have the students circle those words. 

7.  Pass out copies of the book One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish to each pair of students as well as a piece of primary paper and a pencil.  “For our next activity, I am going to divide you into pairs.  Take turns reading a page from the book to each other.  After you finish reading the book, write down all the words that have sh and make the /sh/ sound.”

8.  After each pair of students has created a list of words that contain sh, have each group share a word from their list.  Write the words on the board so that each student can visually identify the sh consonant digraph in several different words.

9.  Pass out the /sh/ coloring book pages of a shark and a sheep as well as crayons.  Let each student pick out which picture he or she would like to color.  “Now everyone is going to color a picture of an animal whose name begins with /sh/.  What animal is this?”  Hold up the picture of the shark.  “What animals is this?”  Hold up the picture of the sheep.

10.  “As you color your /sh/ picture, I am going to let you watch and listen to the book we just read, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, on video.  Try to listen for the words we just identified that contain the /sh/ sound.”  Play the One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish video for the students.

11.  In order to assess each student’s understanding of the consonant digraph /sh/, give each student a worksheet with several pictures on it.  Have several pictures that contain the consonant digraph /sh/ on it as well as a word box with the pictures’ names in it.  Instruct the students to match each picture to the correct word and write the word underneath the picture.  “For our last /sh/ activity, each one of you will complete this /sh/ worksheet.  Follow the directions: Match the word from the word box to the correct picture.  Write the word in the space underneath the picture.”


 Internet Site:  Cendy Burbic.  The Fish said Shhh.

 Internet Site:  Meg Miller.  Shhhh!

 Internet Site:  Starnes, Amanda.  Shhhhhhh.

 Book:  Geisel, Theodor Seuss.  One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.  Random House Publishers, 1960.

 Book:  Mother Goose, A Classic Collection of Children’s Nursery Rhymes.  Dalmatian Press, LLC, 2005. 

 Video:  Dr. Seuss Learning Videos/Literature-Based Videos.  One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.   Educational Record Center at

Click here to return to Constructions.