The sheep are sleeping!
Design for Beginning Readers
By Jessica Freeman
Rationale: In order for children to become fluent
readers, they must learn to recognize letter combinations such as
digraphs. Digraphs are two letters that make only one
must help children learn that sometimes when two letters are together
in a word
they make the mouth move a certain way when pronouncing.
In this lesson we will learn about and be
able to recognize the digraph /sh/.
chalkboard and chalk, a picture of a sheep (Google images has some
pictures of sheep), chart paper to write tongue twister on (optional,
could also be used), Sheep, Sheep, Sheep, Help Me Fall Asleep,
Alda, Elkonin boxes for letterbox lesson (one per student and one for
the letter tiles containing the following letters : a, b, e, f, h, I,
k, l, l, o,
p, r, s, and w. (a set for each student
and teacher), overhead projector, cards
containing the following words used in letterbox lesson:
she, wish, shell, shake, fish, show, fresh,
blush, and splash, the book Sheep in a Shop, written by Nancy
paper and pencil for journal time
- First, we will begin by reading a old
favorite, such as Fuzz and the Buzz, published by Educational
Insights and written by Shelia Cushman, which teaches the short u
correspondence. However, any familiar text
may be used as long as it reviews a previously taught correspondence. Assessments may also been done at this time on
an individual, as needed, basis.
- I will introduce the lesson on the sh
= /sh/ correspondence by saying, “Sometimes when two
letters are together in a word, they make the same sound.” Quickly review any diagraphs already learned
such as th, and ch. To assess prior
knowledge, write the letters s and h on the board and say to the
students, “Can anyone tell me what sound this letter makes
(pointing to c)? Right, c can make the /s/
sound and sometimes the /k/ sound. What
sound does this letter make? (Pointing to
s). Right, s makes a /s/ sound. Does anyone know what sound these two letters
make when they are together in a word?” If
no one knows, tell them and model the /sh/ sound for them.
Tell students that, “/Sh/ makes the same sound
as when someone’s is telling you to shhhhhhh! Has anyone ever told you to shhhhhhhh before?
Model this for the students by holding your finger over
your mouth and saying “Shhhhhhhh,”
“Now, you hold your finger over your mouth like
this (model for them) and say Shhhhhhhh as if you are
telling someone to be quiet.”
- Next, hold up a picture of a sheep and
ask the students to identify. “Can
anyone tell me what this is a picture of? Right,
it’s a sheep. Now everyone say sheep. Good! Did you
hear the /sh/ sound in the word sheep?” Write
the word sheep on the board. Point to the
sh at the beginning of the word. “Now say the word sheep,
but this time stretch out the /sh/ sound, like this shhhhhhhheep! Now you do it. Very
- Then continue modeling the /sh/ sound
by reading students the tongue twister: Sheep
should shop for shoes and shirts for the Shepard. “Now
class let’s say it together. Sheep should
shop for shoes and shirts for the Shepard. Very
Good! Now lets say it one more time, only
this time, when we say /sh/ in every word, let’s stretch it out.” Model this for the students and then have them
repeat it. “Shhhhhhhheep shhhhhhhhould shhhhhhhhhop for shhhhhhhoes and
shhhhhhhhirts for the shhhhhhhepard.”
- Next, we will have a letterbox lesson. The teacher will explain the letterbox lesson
by reminding students that each box represents one sound, not one
letter. Model this by making the word
sheep using Elkonin boxes and the overhead projector.
“Students, please watch as I make the word sheep. I will need 3 boxes because I hear 3 sounds in
the word /sh/ /E/ /p/. Let’s see, the
first sound I hear in the word sheep is /sh/ and we’ve already learned
that the letters s and h make the /sh/ sound, so I know that the
letters s and h go in the first box.” Model
this using the overhead and by thinking and reasoning aloud. “The next sound I hear is /E/. This is kind of tricky. It
sounds like an e should go in the second box, but I know that sheep has
two e’s by looking at the book that we just read. I
am going to put two e’s in this box because I know that two e’s
sometime makes the /E/ sound. The last
sound I hear in the word sheep is /p/. Can
anyone tell me what letter I should put in the third box to make the
/p/ sound? Right, the letter p. We have just spelled the word sheep. Does anyone have any questions?” Please refer to the following link to learn
more about letterbox lessons: http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/letbox.html
- Have the students pull out their
Elkonin boxes and letter tiles. Ask the
students to make the following words: she(2),
wish(3), shell(3), shake(3), fish(3), show (3), fresh (4), blush(4),
splash (5), As students are making each
word, walk around and observe. If someone needs help, repeat the word. If they have spelled the word incorrectly,
reread the word as they made it. Remember
that there is a ONE FAILURE LIMIT. If after the 2nd try the student
doesn’t get it right, simply tell them how to make the word. Frustration is not a positive method in
learning new information! “Students
after you have made the word, raise your hand so that I can see if you
are right. Please do not look at anyone
else’s letterboxes. It is okay if you
don’t know how to make a word. I will help
you. Just try your best and be sure to
listen for each sound in the word. ” Allow approximately 2 minutes
for each word. Once everyone has had a
chance to make each word, model by making the words using the overhead
- Next, hold up cards with words from
letterbox lesson. “Class, as I
hold up a card, everyone read the word on the card together. What word is this?” Read
each word aloud together.
- Allow students time to write a message
or in their daily journals if applicable. Challenge
them to use words containing /sh/. You may
want students to turn in their journals/messages for the day in order
to assess their knowledge of the sh=/sh/ correspondence.
As students are writing in their journals, take time to call
those students who seemed to struggle with the sh=/sh/ correspondence
during the letterbox lesson in order to help them and learn the
correspondence to the teacher’s desk individually.
- Next, we will read the book, Sheep,
Sheep, Sheep, Help Me Fall Asleep, by Arlene Alda.
First I will give an introduction to the book by saying, “Has anyone ever had a hard time falling to sleep? I sure have. You
know, when I was a little girl and I couldn’t go to sleep at night, my
mother would always tell me to count sheep. Has
anyone else’s mother ever told them to count sheep?
Well that is what this book is about. It
is about a person, who’s probably about your age, who tries to fall
asleep by counting sheep. Let’s read and
find out if it worked?”
Assessment: Write on the board, "Sheep in
Then ask the students to think of words with the /sh/ sound to fill in
blank. Children raise their hands and
offer ideas. Some possible suggestions are “Sheep in a shoe. (Shirt, shoe store, shell, fish)
You could also modify by changing the
sentence structure to make, “Sheep get the shivers.” “Sheep
shaved.” “Sheep in a shoe store.” “Sheep shrink.” Have
keep a list of words with /sh/ in their journals. This
list may be added to throughout the
week. Challenge students to go home and
look for things that might contain the /sh/ sound in the word.
Lesson Extension: A great follow-up book for this lesson would
be Sheep in a Shop, by Nancy Shaw.
Alda, Arlene, Sheep, Sheep, Sheep, Help Me Fall
Doubleday Books for Young Readers; October 1, 1992, (click the following link for a
free preview of the book: http://www.arlenealda.com/sheep.html)
Amanda, Kindergarten Teacher, Sheep in a Jeep
Gainor, Brandi, Shhhh! Don’t Wake Mama.
Murray, Bruce A. and Theresa Lesniak. "The
Letterbox Lesson: A Hands-On Approach for Teaching
The Reading Teacher.
No. 6 March, 1999.
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