She Sells Sea Shells

Beginning Literacy

By: Laurin Lee

Rationale: For students to succeed in reading, they must be able to decode words. Their next step after vowels is digraphs. Digraphs are two letters that represent a single vocal gesture. In this lesson, students will learn to recognize /sh/ the digraph represented Sh. Students will learn to recognize by a meaningful representation (Shh… Be quiet) and the symbol sh in written words by reading a decodable book. Students will also practice writing the letters sh.


Picture with a librarian with her finger over her mouth

Expo markers


Primary paper

Class copies of Shelly's Shell Shop

/sh/ worksheet


1. "Have you ever gotten in trouble at the library by being too loud?" Have students respond. "Was it because you may not could have read the "Shh…Quiet" sign? (Show students a librarian with fingers over her mouth.) Well today we are going to learn that two letters can be put together to make one sound so we can stay out of trouble at the library and other places that require us to be quiet."

2. "Let's look at these two special letters /sh/. (Write it on the board.) Watch my mouth as I say this first. (Say /sh/ exaggerating the mouth movement.) Let's all say it together now. How does your mouth move when we say these two letters together? (Have students respond.) That's right. We push our lips out and air leaks out between our teeth. This makes the /sh/ sound."

3."Now let's practice a tongue tickler using our new sound. (Write She sells sea shells by the sea shore on the board.) I will first say it and then we will say it together as a class really emphasizing the /sh/ sound. /Sh/ he sells sea /sh/ells by the sea /sh/ore. Every time you hear the /sh/ put your finger over your mouth like the "Be quiet sign."

4."Can anyone give me words that start with /sh/? (Write words on the board.) Now can anyone give me words that have the /sh/ at the end of the word?" (Model reading a word like dish to the class.) "Start with the vowel i which says /i/ like icky. Next add /d/ to make it /d/i/, last add /sh/. Like diii/sh/. Can anyone else read a word off the list?"

5."Now I want you to practice reading on your own." Hand out Shelly's Shell Shop book to students. Allow them to read on their own. Walk around and check for student's comprehension and awareness of /sh/. Booktalk: Shane Shrek wants to spend his cash on Shelly's Shells. When he finds out her shop is closed he has to find another place to spend his cash. Read to find out where he'll go.

6. "Now we will practice writing the /sh/. First we start by drawing a /s/. We start by drawing a tiny c up in the air, then we swing it back around. (Model) Draw this three times. Next, we write a /h/ we start at the roof and go straight to the ground. Then we add a little hump starting right below the fence. (Model) Draw this letter three times also. Now let's add the two letters together to make the /sh/ we see in words like fish and dish. Practice writing this five times, and pick a word from the list and write it twice.

7. For an informal assessment have student put their fingers up to their mouths when they hear the /sh/ sound in the following words. Wish, shake, smash, shout.

8. Finally give the students a formal assessment worksheet that requires them to draw a line to connect the picture to the word. The worksheet can contain the following words; dish, ship, shell, shirt, cash.


Impasto, Leah. Sh… Says Shelia the Short Librarian.

Shelly's Shell Shop.

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