Shelly’s Shiny Sea Shells


Beginning Reading

By: Kimberly Brackin

Rationale: Decoding words is an essential part of learning how to read. After learning vowels children must learn to decode digraphs. Digraphs are two letters that represent a single vocal gesture. In this lesson, students will learn to recognize /sh/ the digraph represented Sh. Students will learn to recognize by a meaningful representation (Shhhh – like the sound of waves “inside” a sea shell) and the symbol sh in written words though reading of a text. Students will also practice writing the letters sh.


25 Conch Shells

Expo markers


Copies of Shelly’s Shell Shop


Tongue Tickler: “She sells seashells by the sea shore.”


1. "Have you ever listened to the ocean? Have you ever put a shell up to your ear? "   Pass out shells to the class.  Allow the students to explore with the shells for about 1 to 2 minutes.  “Did you hear the sound that the ocean was making?  Did it sound like a /sh/?  In order to hear the ocean everyone has to be quite (put finger up to lips in ‘shush’ signal).  Just like the ocean, sometimes letters come together to make special sounds.  Today we are going to learn about one of those special sounds.”

2. Write “sh” on the board. “These two letter, when put together, make the /sh/ sound.  Watch my mouth as I say it. (Exaggerate mouth movements as you say /sh/).  Now, you try.  Make sure you push lips out and push the air through your teeth, like you were telling someone to be quieter. Let’s all say it together.  (Guide students as they pronounce /sh/ as a class.). 

3. Write the tongue twister on the board. “Let’s give this tongue twister a shot.  I will say it first for you so listen carefully (say tongue twister emphasizing the /sh/ sound) /Sh/e sells sea/sh/ells by the sea /sh/ore.  Now let’s say it together. Put your finger to your lips and your shell to your ear when you say the /sh/ sound.

4. Ask students "Can someone give me a word that starts with our new sound/sh/?” (Write these words on the board.) “Now let’s try and sound these words.” (Model sounding out the first word ie. “f-f-f i-i-i sh-sh-sh. F-i-sh.”) “Now can anyone give me words that have the /sh/ at the end of the word?" (Repeat previous exercise.

 5. Pass out decodable text “Shelly’s Shell Shop”. Have the students read the text independently.  Walk around the room to check for student’s understanding of /sh/.  Booktalk: “Shane Shrek wants to spend his cash at Shelly’s Shell Shop. However, Shane discovers that Shelly’s shop is closed. Now he has to find somewhere else to spend his money.  You will have to read the book to find out what Shane does!”

6. As an informal assessment, have the students put the shell up to their ear if they hear the /sh/ in the following words: ship, sack, smash, fish, hold, bashful, smile, rash.

7. Lastly, as a formal assessment, have the students complete a worksheet to demonstrate their understanding of /sh/.  "This worksheet is a review for the sh diagraph. You are to match the word with the correct picture. An example would be to match the word shell with the picture of the shell." There are a list of 5 words and 7 pictures.


Lee, Laurin. She Sells Sea Shells

Shelly’s Shell Shop

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Kim Brackin