Beginning to Read
Jenna Ward


Rationale:  In order for children to learn to read they need to understand that a phoneme can represent more than one letter.  This is called a digraph.  A digraph is two letters that when together make one sound.  In this lesson, students will learn that when s and h come together they make the /sh/ sound.  As they participate in a letterbox lesson, the students will read and learn to recognize words containing this digraph.

Materials:       Lower-case letters for each student [a,s,h,i,p,o,t,w,f,r]
                        Letter box squares for each student
                        SH worksheet for assessment (see attached)
                       One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish.  By Dr. Suess
                       Tongue Twister:  "Shelby shoos shiny shooflies in the shade."
                       Overhead Projector
1. “Today we are going to learn about sh.  When s and h come together they make the /sh/ sound.  Let’s all say it together (sh,sh,sh). Great!  This is the sound we hear in words like shoe and shape.  Let’s stress the sh in shoe (sh, sh, sh, shoe). Wonderful!”  

2. “Now we are going to say a tongue twister….that is full of sh sounds. Shelby shoos shiny shooflies in the shade.  Now repeat.  Good.  Now let’s really stress the sh sound when we say it this time. Ex. Shshshshelby shshshshoos…. Fantastic! Look at how your mouth moves when we say /sh/.  When you make the sh sound your tongue starts at the roof of your mouth and moves behind your teeth.  Great job!”

3. We will practice spelling words containing the sh sound using our letter boxes.  “When we use our letter boxes only one sound can go in each box.  Is /sh/ one sound or two?”  “One, right!”  Words:  2 [ash] 3[ship, shot, wish, shop, fish], 4[trash]. “Before we begin, let me show you how to read a word with the /sh/ digraph. This word is shop. But, if I do not recognize this word to begin with I can cover up every letter but the vowel, which makes the /o/ sound. Then, I can uncover the letters that become before the vowel, which makes the /sh/ sound. Last, I will uncover the final letter and blend all the sounds together. Let me show you, sh-o-p. Now you try this strategy with this word, shut.” Next I will spell the letterbox words out on the overhead projector and ask the students to read the words.  “Can anyone tell me what word this is?  Right, ship.  Great!”

4. I will have the students pull out their copy of One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish and read along with me.
Have you ever seen so many fish? This book is about many different kinds of fish. There are red and blue fish and old and new fish. To find out what these silly fish are doing, you’ll have to read the book.” Every time we hear the /sh/ sound; we will stress the /sh/ by saying SH! “Let’s begin.”

Assessment: I will then pass out a work sheet containing sh words.  The student will circle the words that contain sh in them and match them with their picture.  


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

Brannon, Hilary.  "Shhh!"

Geisel, Theodor Seuss.  One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. Random House

 Publishers, 1960.


Shoo-Fly! Assessment Worksheet

Directions:      Circle the words that have the /sh/ sound. Then, match the pictures with the correct word.


  1. Fish                                                               
  2. Shoe                                    
  3. Hat                                           
  4. Mitten                                     
  5. Ship                                         
  6. Pet                                       

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