Ch, Ch, Choo, Choo

Beginning Reading

Ann Mathews



            In order for children to become fluent readers, they must understand that letters represent phonemes, and that phonemes are the vocal gestures that they hear.  It is also important for them to understand that the phonemes are represented by one or more graphemes, which are the letters they see producing a single sound.  The sound that combinations of letters make is called, a digraph.   This lesson will focus on helping children to recognize the diagraph /ch/ in both print and speech.  




  1. I will introduce the lesson by reviewing the sounds previously learned such as c /c/, /k/, /s/, and h /h/.  I will remind the students that when the letter is alone, it makes a different sound.  I will explain to the students that two letters can also be placed together to make one sound like /ch/.  I will then ask the students, Does anyone know what two letters are placed together to make /ch/?  I will then listen to the children’s responses and explain to them that, that is what we are going to be working on today.  I will say to the children, When we find a C and an H next to each other, they make the special sound /ch/. I will then model the /ch/ sound and ask the children if they will say it with me.
  2. I will then ask the children, Have you ever seen a train traveling down the train tracks?  What sound did the train make?  Hopefully, the children will respond by saying “/ch/ /ch/.”  I would respond by saying, That is right, when the train moves down the track you hear, /ch - ch/.  Now we are all going to pretend that we are trains and let’s make the /ch/ sound together. Ready, /ch-ch-ch/. 
  3. I will now have the children practice recognizing the /ch/ in words.  I will begin saying, Now we are going to work on recognizing words that contain the /ch/ sound.  Let’s try the word chip.  Let’s try to break the word into two segments, with the /ch/ in one segment and the rest of the word in the other.  Listen, as I model segmenting the word, chip, ch-ip.  Now let’s continue practicing this together with the following words: chat, ch-at; chant, ch-ant; punch, pun-ch.  Through this exercise the children can see that the /ch/ sound can be at the beginning or end of the word.
  4. I will then show the children a poster with the tongue twister, Charlie and Chip chased a bunch of chickens on the Choo, Choo, train.  I will first read the chant to the children pointing to each word as I read.  I will then ask the children to read it along with me together.  I will then demonstrate how to do the Choo, Choo sign by having your arm bent at a 90 degree angle moving your arm up in the air and then back down level with your shoulder.  I will ask the children to do the “Choo, Choo sign” each time they hear the /ch/ in a word as we read back over the chant.
  5. I will tell the children, Now we are going to listen to a set of words that have both the /ch/ in them and some that do not.  After I read the set of words I want you to raise your hand and when I call on you to tell me which word had the /ch/ sound in it.  Okay.  Ready.   Does cracker or chicken?    Does cold or chilly?  Does checkers or marbles?
  6. I will ask the children to pull out their individual set of letterboxes.  I will say to the children, Now we are going to work on a letterbox lesson with the sound /ch/.  In each of the children’s sets I would have already taped the letters c and h together.  I will ask, Why do you think that the c and h are taped together?  Do you think that they should be put in one box or two? Hopefully, the children will remember after working with the /ch/ sound that it is a single sound and therefore it should be put in one box.  If children are still struggling with the concept then I will explain to them that each box contains a single sound and that the /ch/ is only one sound and should be put in its own box.  I will then model how spellings with letterboxes should be done.  I will say the word chant slowly, ccchhhaaannnttt.  I will put the ch in the first box the a in the second, the n in the third, and the t in the fourth.  Now I will say to the children, As I say the following words I want you to place the phonemes in the boxes.  I will ask the children to open three letter boxes.  The words for this are as follows: chip, chin, rich, and chop.  I will then ask the children to open four letter boxes.  The words for this are as follows: lunch, chunk, and chest. Finally I will ask the children to open up five letter boxes.  The word with five phonemes is crunch.  As the children are doing this I will walk around the room making sure that each child understands what is going on.  If a child is off task or struggling with this I will make a note of it so I know to work with this concept more with him/her.  After spelling the words as I have said them slowly, now I am going to write the words on the chalkboard so that everyone can see them and then have the class tell me what the words are.
  7. I will tell the children to get out their copy of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, a piece of primary paper, and a pencil.  Now turn to your neighbor and take turns reading the book, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  When you are not reading, listen and write down the words you hear in the book with the /ch/ sound.  When everyone is finished we will go over the children’s list as a class.  I will be walking around the room monitoring the activity making sure everyone understands what is going on. 
  8. As a concluding activity for the lesson I will give each child a worksheet with many pictures on it. I will say to the children, I am going to give each of you a piece of paper that has some pictures on it.  First, I want you to write the word underneath the picture, telling me what the picture is.  Then, I want you to draw a square around the picture if it has our special /ch/ sound in it.  When everyone is done, you may color the pictures. The pictures will include: a tree, a piece of cheese, a piece of chocolate, a house, a mouse, a piece of chalk, a chair, a chicken, and a book.  This is the final way of assessing their understanding of the diagraph /ch/ in the lesson.




Click here to return to Explorations.