"Swish, Swish, Swish"

Beginning Reading

By: Meaghan Lambert


Rationale:                 For children to read effectively, they must be exposed and instructed in all phonemes.  In this lesson students will learn the digraph sh=/sh/.  A digraph is a combination of two letters that make up one sound.  Once we are finished with the lesson, the students will be able to identify /sh/ in spoken words as well as printed text.



*         Class set of Elkonin boxes.

*         Letter manipulatives: a,b,c,d,e,f,h,I,n,o,p,r,s, and u.

*         Chart paper with chant, "Dash the Dolphin" :

                   Dash the Dolphin

                        There is a dolphin in the sea.

                        The dolphin's name is Dash.

                        If you like dolphins (just like me)

                        You'd loved to see him splash.

He splashes when the sea is calm

                        Or when the waves go crash!

                        He splishes and he splashes

                        And he's faster than a flash.

He splashes when the waves go crash!

                        He splashes when the waves go bash.

                        He splashes when the waves go smash!

                        That dolphin they call Dash!

---Helen O'Reilly

*         A BIG book copy of: One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss, published by Random House.

*         Dry erase marker.

*         Tape.

*         Primary writing paper and pencils for each student.

*         Worksheet that students have to circle words that have the digraph /sh/ in them (SEE BELOW).



1.      "Good Morning class!  I hope that everyone is ready to open their minds and learn a lot today!  Today, we are going to be learning about two letters that make up one sound.  But first, can anyone tell me what your mom, or your teacher, or someone tells you when they want you to be quiet?"  [Allow ample time for students to comment/answer.]  "Yes, that is right, they say Shhh!  Today we are going to learn how to recognize the /sh/ sound in words we say or hear and words we read!"

 2.      "Can anyone raise their hand and tell me what you think the two letters that go together to make up the /sh/ sound are?  Great!  Yes, the letters s and h go together to make the /sh/ sound!"

 3.      "Now, I want everyone to repeat the /sh/ sound after me."  Model how to say /sh/ for the class and allow them time to practice on their own.  "Okay, now I want you to listen to the words that I say.  If I say a word with the /sh/ sound in it I want you to put your finger over your mouth like you are telling someone to be quiet!  Are you ready?"  Repeat the words: ship, sand, splash, brush, stop, and dish.  "Great job!"

 4.      "Now, everyone pull out a pencil and their writing paper.  We are going to learn how to write the /sh/ sound!  Let's start with our s, begin with your pencil just below the fence and make a little c so that it sits below the fence, now without lifting your pencil, make a curve around the backside of the fence and rest it on the sidewalk.  After s, we need to add the h.  To write an h we need to begin at the roof and make a straight line all the way to the sidewalk and now we need to move our pencil to the fence line and make a hump over to the sidewalk.  Now, I am going to come around to your desks and look to see how well you have done.  When I put a smiley face stamp on your page, I want you to make a whole row of our new sh letters.

 5.      [Pull out the chart with the poem "Dash the Dolphin" on it and have it ready to use with the students.]  "Now we are going to read a chant that has a lot of /sh/ sounds in it.  I am going to read one line, and then I want you to read it back to me." [Read one line, and then have the students mimic it back to you, until finished.  Once they know the poem you can have the recite the whole thing together as a class.]  "Great job!  Now, lets circle the words with the /sh/ in them! [Use dry erase marker and call on students to come up to the chart and circle the "sh" in them.]

 6.      Once you have finished with that activity, ask the students to pull out their Elkonin letterboxes and letters.  Go around and tape the s and h together for the students.  Once everyone is ready explain that the s and h go together to make one sound, so in the letterboxes, the s and h go in the same box-that is why they are taped together.  The teacher will then model how to spell ship and cash with the s and h in the same box.  (So ship and cash would both be spelled with 3 letterboxes.)  "Okay, class now I have taped together your two letters, s and h, can anyone tell me why I might have chose to do this?"  [Allow time for students to answer.]  "That's right, the two letters s and h go together to make one sound!  That means we put them in the same letterbox when we are spelling our words.  Now, I am going to call out some words and I want you to spell them in your letterboxes."  Continue with the students spelling shed, dish, and dash.  After those words, go around and take the tape off of the two letters s and h, so that now they are two separate letters.  Remind them that even though they are not taped together, they still need to be in the same letterbox.  "Alright class, I have taken the tape off of your two letters, we are still going to spell more words, but this time I want to see if you remember that the letters s and h go together!"   Give a few more words and assess if the students are able to place the s and h in the same boxes. Additional words to call out are: crash, brush, and fish.

 7.      Next invite the children to the magic carpet to read a special book.  Introduce the favorite Dr. Seuss book: One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.  Ask the students to read along with the book as a group.  When the class is reading, ask them to put their pointer finger on their mouth (like they are telling someone to "sshh") each time they hear or see the /sh/ digraph in the book.  Give an example sentence to make sure the students understand how to do the activity.


Assessment:              Students will be given a worksheet with different words on it, if the word has the sh=/sh/ digraph in it, they circle the word.  If the word does not have the digraph /sh/ in it, they do nothing.  For example if number one was dog, they would not do anything.  If number two was shell, they would then circle that word.



Hando, Beth Wilen, Jennifer (2002).  70 Wonderful Word Family Poems.  Scholastic Resource Book, 20.

Murray, B. & Lesniak, T. (1999).  The Letterbox Lesson: A Hands-On Approach to Teaching Decoding.  The Reading Teacher, 43.

Seuss, Dr.  One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.  Random House, 1960.

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