By: Abby Hamann





In order for children to learn to read and spell words, they must develop phoneme awareness. In order for children to advance, they must understand the phonemes that are represented by two letters, in addition to long and short vowels. This type of letter combination is often called a digraph.  A digraph is a two - -letter combination that makes one sound when combined.  When each letter of a digraph is isolated, it may represent a different phoneme, but when these letters are combined, they represent one phoneme. This lesson will teach children to identify the digraph /sh/ in written and spoken words. They will learn to spell and read words with the phoneme /sh/.  



*letter boxes

 *Class set of letters for the letter boxes containing the letters(s, h, u, t, e, d, o, p, w, i(2), b, a, r, m, l) with s and h taped together

 *Worksheet with pictures (shell, apple, nose, bat, ship, dish, star, fish)




1.    Begin the lesson by explaining to the child that sometimes phonemes can be more than one letter. “We already know what 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.  When we combine ‘s’ and ‘h’, it makes the sound /sh/, like in SHAPE and SHIRT.  What does ‘s’ say on it’s own?  Good, s says /s/.  Do you see how it makes a different sound when we put ‘h’ after it?  Let’s practice more with ‘s’ and ‘h’!


2.    Have you ever heard your teacher try to quiet the class by saying “SHHHHHHH”? Well /sh/ is what you hear when you combine s and h, like in shape, or rash.  Can you hear the /sh/ in sh - -h - -h - -hape and ras - -h - -h - -h - -h?  Now I want everyone to say shape and rash and when you hear the /sh/, I want you to put your finger over your mouth like your are telling someone to be quiet.  (Demonstrate saying the word and doing the finger movement.)


3.    Now let’s all try a tongue twister.  “Shelly sold sea shells by the shore”.  Now I want us to all read it together (write it on the board).  This time when we read it, I want you to do the /sh/ motion with your finger each time that you hear /sh/.  Now let’s do it again but this time I want you to stretch out the /sh/.  Demonstrate Shhhhhhhelly sold sea shhhhhhhels by the shhhhhhhore?  Now we are going to read it one more time but this time I want you to bread the /sh/ off of the word.  Demonstrate /Sh/ elly /Sh/ ore…etc…  /Sh/ elly sold sea /sh/ ells by the /sh/ ore.  Good job finding all of the SHHHHHs!


4.    Now that we know how to identify /sh/ when talking, we are going to spell some words that have /sh/.  Everyone take out you letter boxes and fold them until you have only three boxing showing like this (hold up three boxes).  You will also need to take out your bags that contain the letters (s, h, u, t, e, d, o, p, w, i(2), b, a, r, m,l) and make sure that your s and h are taped together.  I am going to say a few words and I want you to spell them in your letterboxes.  For example, if I say shirt, you would put sh in the first box.  You would do this because the s and the h make the /sh/ sound and that is one sound so it goes in one box.  Next, you would put the i in the middle box.  The i would make the /i/ sound and how many sounds is that?  Great job!  So the i would go in the next box.   Lastly, we would put the r, and then the t in the last two boxes because those are only one sound letters. Demonstrate with letter box. Remember that our /sh/ makes one sound so this is why the two letters are taped together, it makes one sound so 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.

3 phoneme - - shut, shed, shop, wish, bash 

4 phoneme - - shred, trash, 

5 phoneme - -splash, finish)

Great job.  Now I am going to spell the words on the board and I want you to read them aloud.  


6.    I will give the child a worksheet with eight pictures on it (shell, nose, apple, bat, ship, dish, star, fish).  The child will write the name of each item in a blank provided under the item.  The child will then circle each picture that has the /sh/.  I will use this to grade and assess.



Murray, Bruce A. and Theresa Lesniak.  “The Letterbox Lesson:  A Hands - -On Approach for Teaching Decoding.”  The Reading Teacher.  Vol. 52, No.6  March, 1999.  

664 - -650.


Gainor, Brandi Shhhhhhh! Don’t wake Mama

 Return to Doorways Index