Shiny Shells on the Shore

Beginning Reading

Cassie Simpson


A single phoneme, which is a vocal gesture in spoken words, can be represented by more than one grapheme.  It is important for children to begin to recognize these phonemes.  When a phoneme is mapped out by more than one grapheme, it is called a digraph.  A digraph is the combination of two letters that make one sound (there are both vowel and consonant digraphs).  One such example is sh = /sh/ and this lesson will focus on teaching this digraph.  The students will complete a letterbox lesson to meet this goal.


          a, s, h, f, I, e, l, p, t, u, b, r, o, n, w


1. Introduce lesson by asking students, “When you walk into a library, what does the librarian say to make sure you stay quiet? Right, she will say /sh/” (model /sh/ sound with one finger over your mouth).  “Put your pointer finger over your mouth and say /sh/ with me (model first).  Okay ready /shhhh/! Great job!  See how your tongue starts at the roof of your mouth and moves behind your teeth.”

2. “Now the /sh/ sound is a very special sound because it is made from two letters instead of just one.  S and h written together make the /sh/ sound.”  

3. “Let’s look at this tongue twister.  Shawn found shiny shells on the shore.  Now say it with me!  Great job!  Now when we say it, we’re really going to stretch out the /sh/ sound each time we hear it and make our /sh/ sign.  Listen to me first.  Shhhawn found shhhiny shhhells on the shhhore.  Now let’s say it together!”

4. “Let’s listen for the /sh/sound in some words.  Let me show you first.  Now do I hear the /sh/ sound in foot or shoe?  Let’s see fffooottt (stretch out each phoneme) or shhhoe.  I hear it in shoe!  Now you try.  Do you hear /sh/ in sheep or lamb?  Close or shut?  Show or movie?  Great job with those words!”

5. Have students take out their letterboxes and letters, and draw letterboxes on the board to model spelling.  Remind students that one sound goes in each letterbox.  “Now we are going to practice spelling some words with our /sh/ sound in them.  Let me show you first.  Now if I want to spell wish, I’m going to listen for the sounds in the word.  /Ffff/ ish is the first sound I hear so I put f in the first letterbox.  Then /f/ /iiii/ /sh/ is next, so I put i in the next box.  Okay now what sound is left? /Fi/ /shhhh/; that /sh/ sound we are learning is last so I put sh in the last letterbox.  Now you are going to try!  Open up two letterboxes and spell the word ash.  Open three boxes and spell shine, wash, ship, and shut.  Next, open up four boxes and spell flash, brush, and shrub.  Great job!”  (walk around the room while calling out these words to assist any students who may be having trouble.)

6. Have students put away letterboxes and tiles.  “Now that you have spelled these words we are going to practice reading them!  Watch me first… if I see w-a-s-h, first I’m going to look at that a.  It says /a/ and w says /w/ so together they say /wa/.  And I know the sh says /sh/, so if I put all the sounds together, I say /wash/.  Now you are going to try!”  Write on the words on the board one at a time and have the students read them out loud.  

7. Next read One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss to class.  Book talk:  “There are so many different types of fish in this book, and some of them seem very silly!  Look at all the different types of fish.  Do you think they all do different things?  Let’s read to find out what they are doing!”  While reading have students make the /sh/ sign every time they hear a word with the /sh/ sound in it.  Once finished reading the book, the students will work with a partner to make a list of /sh/ words that they heard in the story.

8. For assessment, I will call each student back to my desk individually.  They will be given a list of pseudowords on note cards with the /sh/ sound in them.  They will read each card to me so I can see if they can accurately read these words.  (Words are: shep, resh, nosh, shate, flish, trush)

Dr. Suess.  One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.  Random House Books for Young Readers.  1960. 

Kendrick, Lauren.  “Ssshhopping for Ssshhells.”

Smelley, Sara.  “Shopping for Shoes.”

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