Shelly’s Ship is Coming to Shore!
Emergent Literacy
Meredith Rich

Rational: Children must learn that when certain letters are together they stand for specific mouth moves. These letter combinations (digraphs) must be learned in order to help children read. This lesson is designed to help children learn the phoneme /sh/.  It will also teach the students how to recognize the phoneme /sh/ in written language.

Materials:  You will need: the list of /sh/ questions, the list of the letterbox words, the story to read, (all provided). Elkonin boxes, and the letter manipulates f, i, d, s, m, a, t, r, f, l, c, and sh tape together are also needed. (Make sure you have enough for every student in your class.) You will also need some free space for a word wall, paper, and a marker to write down their words. Your students will need primary paper (recommended) and a pencil.


1. Introduce the lesson by explaining to the students that “when the letters S and H are together they make a special sound. Does anyone know what this sound is? The sound is /sh/, like the sound a teacher makes when she is trying to get the classroom quiet. (Repeat it /sh/) Everyone make this sound with me /sh/.”

2. After you have introduced the vocal gesture /sh/ then give the following instruction to your class. “Let’s say our new sentence, Shelly’s ship is coming to shore. Now this time when we say it I want you to stretch out the /sh/ sound every time you hear it. Sshhhelly’s  sshhhip is coming to sshhore. Let’s do it one more time. Sshhelly’s ssshhip is coming to sshhore. Good job! Can someone tell me how many times you heard /sh/ in that sentence? That is correct, three times. Can anyone tell me the words that had /sh/ in them?  That is right, Shelly, shore, and ship. Great job!” Then say, “Listen to the sounds in the word ship. /sh/ /i/ /p/ Count the sounds in the word. How many was there?” Continue doing this with the other words. If some students do not understand try a few more /sh/ sentences or tongue twisters with them.

3. Ask your students simple questions like the following. “Do you hear the /sh/ sound in shake or bake? Correct shake.” Continue doing that until they have the hang of it. Here are a few more pairs of questions to ask them. “Do you hear /sh/ in ship or boat? Snake or shrimp? Fish or food? Shake or wiggle? Smash or crumble? Snail or shell? Shack or smack? Leash or collar? Spoon or dish? Shiver or liver? Garbage or trash? Light or flash? (And so on.)”  Make sure you explain the /sh/ can be at the beginning of the word, in the middle, or even at the end of a word.

4. Pass out the letter manipulatives and the Elkonin boxes to each child in your classroom.  Then pass around tape so that they may tape the phoneme /sh/ together if desired. Next tell them that “/sh/ only goes in one box. Does anyone know why? That is correct Rachel, it only makes one sound. When s and h get together they form a new sound /sh/ and their old sounds are quiet.” Then give the following directions. I am going to ask you to spell a word for me. Every letter you hear in that word put it in a box. I will do the first one. (demonstrate) The word is ship and it has three boxes. So /sh/ goes in the first, /i/ in the second, and /p/ in the third. Now I want you to try a few on your own. Take out three boxes, try the word mash.” Continue working with them. Here are a few words to do, fish, dish, smash, trash, flash, and crash. You will need the letter manipulatives, f, i, d, s, m, a, t, r, f, l, c, and sh tape together.

5. After you have taught the lessons above you need to assess your students to make sure they understand correctly. The following activity is a good fun way to do so. Read the story to the students (attached on the following page) sentence by sentence. After the first sentence is read have the students write down how many times they heard /sh/ in the sentence. Example sentence: The shell washed up to the shore. Say to them,  “write how many times you hear /sh/ in the sentence. Great.  Then write the words that have /sh/ in them. I’ll read the sentence again. The shell washed up to the shore.”  Read the whole story to the students and after every sentence have them write the number of times they heard it and the word they heard it in. The story is attached on the back of this page.

6. You might also want to have your students write down as many words as they know with the phoneme /sh/ in the word. After this is done display all the words the students come up with on your word wall. Have them write a message to someone using at least seven or eight of the words from the word wall. (Your students may use invented spelling here. That is okay but make sure you have the correct spelling down when you place it on your word wall.)


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Attached Things

                    Practicing /sh/!  (22 total)

1. Shelly was waiting for the ship to come and pick her up.
2. She was going to visit her sweet grandmother.
3. As she was waiting she saw a beautiful shell.
4. It had been smashed by the cars on the island.
5. The ship arrived on the shore they flashed the signal for everyone to get on.
6. Shelly gathered her things and called to her sheep Sally.
7. Sally ran to Shelly and they set sail together to see grandmother.
8. On the way Sally and Shelly saw fish, birds, and sharks.
9. Shelly saw land and could hear the waves crashing against the shore.
10.  She knew the trip would soon come to an end.
11. Sally and Shelly had a great time on the ship, but they were ready to see grandmother.