Shelly Sheep

Emergent Reader

By: Mary Haley Byrne

Rationale: Phoneme recognition is the key to learning how to read and write, and learning how important phonemes are in spoken language and the connection between letters and sounds. This lesson with help teach the difficult phoneme /sh/ in spoken words by having students recite a tongue twister, and identify words containing the phoneme. It will also help students recognize the /sh/ phoneme in written words by having them practice writing the s and h together, and completing the worksheet.

Materials: white board and markers, primary paper, pencils, chart with "Shelly sheep shopped for shiny shoes," worksheet, Sheep on a Ship by Nancy E. Shaw, picture of someone with a finger over their mouth as if they were saying "shhhh."


1. Say: We have learned that the letter S [write on white board] makes the /s/ sound and that the letter H [write on white board] makes the /h/ sound. Today we are going to learn about what happens when you put them together. They make a special sound /sh/ [say /sh/ several times and focus on what your mouth is doing]

2. Say: Have you ever heard someone say "shhhh" when they want you to be quiet? [Put finger over mouth and say /sh/] We also make the sound /sh/ when we say some words.

3. Say: Now let’s try the silly tongue twister, "Shelly sheep shopped for shiny shoes." Now let’s say it three more times. Now we will say it again, but this time lets stretch out all the words so we can hear the /sh/ sound: "shhhhhelly shhhhheep shhhhhopped for shhhhhiny shhhhhoes." Now, let’s break off the /sh/ sound when we say the tongue twister: "/sh/elly /sh/eep /sh/opped for /sh/iny /sh/oes."

4. [Have students take out primary paper and pencil.] Say: Remember, when we put the letters s and h together they spell /sh/. I am going to write the letters first, and then we will do it together. [Model how to write s and h] To make the s, we start just below the fence, curve up until you hit the fence, and then curve back down towards the sidewalk. When you get to the sidewalk, spring halfway up towards the fence and stop. Then, right next to the s we are going to make a little h. We start at the sky, come all the way down to the sidewalk, come back to the fence, and make a hump to the sidewalk. Now, you use your very best handwriting and make your own s and h on your paper. When you have done this, I will give you a sticker, and then you make six more just like them.

5. Say: The next thing we are going to do is see if we hear the /sh/ sound in some words. I will show you first. Let’s see if it is in rush... rushhhh. I heard the /sh/ sound! Rushhhhh. Now let’s see if it is in the word sun...  ssssssun. I don’t hear the /sh/ sound! Now we are going to do it together. When you hear the /sh/ sound you are going to throw your hands up and say "Shhh! There it is!" If you do not hear it say its name, then say "Sssso not there!" Do you hear the /sh/ sound in dish? Sing? Show? Girl? Apple? Shape?

6. Say: Now we are going to read Sheep on a Ship and discuss the story. Sheep on a Ship is about a group of sheep who try to sail a ship. The sheep get into trouble when a storm comes and tosses the ship about in the middle of the ocean. Let’s read to find out if the sheep make it out of the scary storm safely! [Read through it one time]

7. Say: Now I am passing out pictures of someone saying "shhhhh." We are going to read Sheep on a Ship again. I want you to hold up your "shhh" picture when you hear words with the /sh/ sound. Together we are going to list all the words on the board after we read it a second time, so lets put our listening ears on!

8. Students will complete the worksheet provided. On the first page they will color in words that begin with sh in one color, and on the next page they will color the words that end in sh in another. For both sheets, they will color the words that do not contain sh a third color. As they are working the teacher will walk around and help any students that still need help. After everyone is finished, we will go over answers as a class.

9. For assessment: The teacher can take up their worksheets to ensure the students comprehend the lesson. The teacher can also assess the students by taking notes of the student’s responses and if they answer questions correctly during the activities.


Shaw, Nancy E. (1992) Sheep on a Ship. New York: Sandpiper.

Super Teacher Worksheets. "Phonics Worksheets: /Ch/ and /Sh/ Sounds." Word Color /Sh/.

Grant, Anna Kimbrell. "Sh! S!... We’re in the library."

Haywood, Kendra. "Sheep on a Ship."

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