Choo, Choo!

Emergent Literacy
 Katie Lincoln



In order for children to be successful in phonics, reading and spelling, they need to understand phonemes.  Children learn to recognize different phonemes and sounds by matching letters to their vocal gestures in spoken contexts.  In this lesson, children will learn the sound and spelling of the consonant digraph /ch/ through an expressive representation and written practice.  They will also be able to practice using and spotting the /ch/ sound in both written and spoken language.


Primary Paper and Pencil

Copy of “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault

Copy of the picture page for coloring  


Copy of the Tongue Twister

Dry Erase Board and Marker



1. Introduce the lesson by explaining that our written language is a secret code.  The tricky part is learning what letters stand for—the mouth moves we make as we say words.  Today we are going to work on spotting the mouth move /ch/.  At first, /ch/ might seem hidden in words, but as you get to know it, you’ll be able to spot /ch/ in all kinds of words.

2. Ask students, have you ever heard a train say ‘choo, choo’?  Let’s practice the mouth move that the /ch/ sound makes by saying /ch/ together.  Model how to move your mouth to make the /ch/ sound. [Remember: to pull the horn, and say ‘choo, choo’]

3. Let’s now do a tongue twister to practice the /ch/ sound. “Charlie challenged Chip to a chewing gum contest.” Everyone say it three times.  Now we will say it again, but this time, I want you to stretch out all of the words so we can hear /ch/.  [Remember: Use the motions!]  Now, I want you to break off the /ch/ when we say the tongue twister: “Ch/arlie ch/allenged Ch/ip to a ch/ewing gum contest.”

4. [Have students take out primary paper and pencil.]  We can use the letters c and h to spell the sound /ch/.  I am going to write the letters first, and then we will do it together.  [Model how to write c and h.]  “To write a little c, start like little a. Go up and touch the fence, then around and up.  To write a little h, start at the rooftop, come down, and hump over.”  Now, let’s do it together.   

5. “Now, let me show you how to find /ch/ in the word touch.  I am going to stretch touch out and I want you to listen for the /ch/ like in choo, choo in this word. Tt-uuu--ch. There it is, there is the /ch/.  It’s your turn now.”

6. [Pull out list of words, some with the /ch/ sound and some without, to see if the students hear /ch/ in the correct words.]  Do you hear /ch/ in cheer or fear? teach or learn? tiger or chipmunk? chew or swallow? chair or table?

7. “We are now going to read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” and everytime you hear the /ch/ sound, make the horn pulling hand signal.”  After reading, we are going to write down a few of the words from the book that had the /ch/ sound and investigate them.  [Let children take turns writing a word down so they are able to get practice writing the letters c and h but also spotting them in written form and hearing them in spoken language.]

8. For assessment, distribute a picture page to each student.  Help the students with the names of each picture.  Then, ask each of them to color the pictures of the items whose names have the /ch/ sound in it.


1. Archambault, John and Bill Martin Jr.(2000) Lois Ehlert (Illustrator) Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. New York: Alladdin.

2. Williams, Andrea “Choo, Choo! All Aboard!”

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