Sshhhh! Shouts the Librarian!!


Margaret Beason

Beginning Reading

Lesson for teaching decoding with consonant digraphs and other chunks


Rational:  To learn to read and spell words, children must learn the digraphs that stand for specific mouth moves.  Sounds that require two letters are called digraphs.  The purpose of this lesson is to help children identify the letter combination /sh/.  The children will learn how to identify the digraph /sh/, its spelling, and its use in words and language.



  1. Chart with “Shelly shows Sharon the ship where she found the sea shells and fish.”
  2. Elkonin boxes
  3. Letter manipulatives of letters a, c, e, m, r, f, h, i, l(2), s(2), u, o, p and w.
  4. The book Tish the Fish by Sheila Cusham.
  5. A worksheet with pictures of some with /sh/ sound and some not such as: ship, shell, fish, shoe, ball, table, boy girl, phone, and cat.


Procedure:  1.  I will introduce the lesson by telling the children that sometimes when two letters are put together, they make the same sound.  “Today we are going to talk about the sound that “s” and “h” make when they are put together.”

2.  “Have you ever been talking to loud and someone says, Shhh? Like in the library or at school? This is the sound that “s” and “h” make when they are put together.  Let’s all try saying /sh/ together.  Good. Now, let’s stretch is out and see if you say /sh/ like someone telling us to be quiet.  I’ll try sshhout.  There I said the /sh/ sound.  And every time we do the /sh/ sound we are also going to hold our finger up to our lips just like we are telling someone to be quiet. 

3.  “Let’s try a tongue twister.  Shelly shows Sharon the ship where she found the sea shells and fish.”  Everybody say it together.  Now say it again, and this time, stretch the /sh/ sound anytime you hear it in a word.  And don’t forget to also use the hand movement that I taught you.  “SSHHelly SSHHows SSHHaron the SSHHip where SSHHE found the sea SSHHells and fiSShh.”  Try it again, and this time break it off the word: “/Sh/ elly /sh/ ows /sh/ aron the /sh/ ip where /sh/ e found the sea /sh/ ells and fi /sh/.

4.  Listen for the /sh/ sound as I say some words.  Do you hear /sh/ in ship or boat? Plate or dish? Light or flash?

5.  Now, let’s take out our Elkonin boxes and try to spell some words that have the /sh/ sound in them.  I will demonstrate how letters that come together and make the same sound go in one box.  I will show the whole class the word mash.  I will tell the class that you only need 3 boxes because “m” goes in the first box, “a” in the second box, and the “s” and the “h” go in the 3rd box together because together they make the same sound.  Now everybody I want you to open 2 boxes and spell the word she.  Open 3 boxes and spell the words fish, shell, wish, and shop.  Next open 4 boxes and try to spell slush, crash, fresh, and clash. 

6.  I will write each of the words we have spelled in our letterbox lesson on the board.  We will all read each of the words orally.

7.  Give everyone a copy of the book Tish the Fish by Sheila Cusham.  Have the children read the book aloud to a partner.  Then we will reread the book as a class and every time the come to a word with the sound /sh/ they must put their finger to their mouth (the hand gesture). 

7.  As the students read the book and make the hand gesture for the /sh/ sound, I will write each word on the chalkboard.  After we have finished the book I will have the entire class read each word orally.

8.  For assessment, give each student a sheet of paper with ten objects on it: ship, shell, fish, shoe, ball, table, boy girl, phone, and cat.  Have the students circle the pictures that have the /sh/ sound in it.  Then have them use three of the words with the /sh/ sound in them and write a message. Then I will have a worksheet with a short passage with sentences that contain the /sh/ sound.  For example, Shelly wished she did not have to wash the dishes tonight.  The students should read the passage aloud to themselves.  Everytime they come across a word with the /sh/ sound they will circle the word.



Cusham, Sheila. Tish the Fish. Educational Insights. 1990

 Eldredge, J. Loyd. 1995. Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms, Prentice Hall, p. 104-107

 Wendy Adams, “Shhh…Quiet!” at

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