Chicka, Chicka, Choo, Choo

Beginning Reading (Digraph)

Holly Kilgore



To learn to read and spell words children must first learn phonemes and letter correspondences.  Sometimes a phoneme is represented by two letters that go together to make one sound such as ch. This is what we call a digraph. Digraphs are a necessity to the use of the English Language.  Without digraphs, we would be limited in the vocabulary that we could use.  This lesson will help children understand that when they see a c and h together, they make the ch sound. So that the students may learn this digraph and its use in everyday language.


Poster with the tongue twister “Chappy chased the Choo Choo to Church”

Dry erase board and marker for every student

Index cards with ch written on the card (every student will have one)

Letterboxes with at least four boxes ( each student)

All lowercase letters for the letterboxes (each student)

Worksheet with pictures and words to match that make the ch sound for each student

Book: Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom by Bill Martin Jr., Michael Sampson, Lois Ehlert. Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, 1989


1.Introduce lesson by explaining that when certain letters are combined they make a special sound.  Today, we are going to talk bout the way our mouths move when we put c and h together. They say ch. Now watch the way my mouth moves when I read the word chew. Can everyone make that sound with me?  “Ch.” Notice the way your teeth are together and your lips are slightly puckered when you say “ch” Say it again.


2.Ask students,  Have you ever heard the sound of a train? Chugga, chugga, chugga, chugga, choo chooooooo    Now lets say that together.   Can you spot that sound in a word?   Lets try chip. Ch-ch-ch-i-i-i-p-p-p. Good  There was the ch sound, right at the beginning of the word.  (It's important to tell the students that the ch sound isn't always at the beginning of words.) Give an example of a word that does not begin with ch like peach.

3.Let's say the tongue twister together that is written on the chart. “Chappy chased the choo choo to church.”  Have the students copy the sentence onto his/her individual dry erase board.  Read the sentence slowly and emphasize the ch sound.  Then have students read it with  you and circle the words that they hear ch in. (this can be done in a group or individually depending on the class)


4.Lets see if you can spot the mouth movement ch in some words. Hold up your card if you hear ch. Change, doodle, bench, creep, watch, choose, goose, chip, dot, hat, chomp and score. 


5.Now I want for everyone to take out their letterboxes and all your lowercase letters.  

-We are going to spell some words that include our new diagraph ch.  Since ch makes one sound but is two letters, how many boxes should it take up?  One-good.  I am going to show you how and then I will let you practice.  The word is rich… r-i-ch. 

-Here are your words.  Words: 3-[chop, chug, chat, chip] 4-[chomp, chunk]. 

-Now I am going to spell the words without my boxes and I want you to tell me what I am spelling. For example, "Ch-u-g.  Oh, Chug" Now you do it.  Good.

6.Introduce the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (Martin, 1989.).  Book Talk: Tell the children that each letter is climbing the coconut tree.  What will happen when X, Y, and Z get up to the top of the coconut tree?   Read to find out.  While reading I want you to hold up your ch card when you hear ch throughout the book. 


      I will have a worksheet with a bunch of pictures.  Some will have ch and some pictures will have different sounds. There will be a list of three words and they will have to match the word to the picture.



            Biggee, Ashley. Chad’s Choo Choooo.


            Webb, Steven. Chasing Cheap Chopsticks.

Return to the  Odysseys index.