Shhhhhh! Quiet Please!

Beginning Reading

Mandy Jones



In order for children to learn to read and spell words, they must learn the various digraphs that represent certain mouth movements. Children need to learn that digraphs are letter combinations that make one sound. This particular lesson focuses on the digraph /sh/. Children will learn to identify the /sh/ digraph through practice and modeling.




Cards for each child with the digraph sh on them

Letterbox cards for each child

Letterbox letters: s, h, i, p, o, f, r, e, c, a

Text: One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish by Dr. Seuss, published by Random House Children’s Books, 1966.



1. Introduce the lesson by explaining to the children that sometimes when two letters are put together they make one sound. "Today we are going to learn about two letters at one time. Sometimes, when two letters are put together they make one sound. We are going to learn about the sound that s and h make when they are put together like this." I will then write the two letters together on the board for the children to see. "Now I want everyone to look at the cards on your desk. The cards have the sh on them."


2. Explain the actual sound of the digraph. "Have you ever been talking and someone says ssshhhh! That is the sound that s and h make when they are put together like this." I will refer back to the sh on the board. "I would like for you to try saying it with me this time. Can everyone say /sh/ together? Let’s try." The children and I will all say the /sh/ sound together. "I want everyone to pick up their mirror and look at your mouth when you make the sound this time." Children will look into the mirrors to see how their mouth is shaped when they make the sound. "Can anyone tell me what your teeth are doing when you make the /sh/ sound?"


3. Practice with tongue twister and digraph sound. "Let’s look at our tongue twister for today. I’ll say it first and then you can repeat it after me. Shelly saw fish and shells at the seashore. Now you try." The class will repeat the tongue twister. "Now I’ll say the tongue twister again and you raise your card with the sh on it when you hear the /sh/ sound. Here we go. Shelly saw fish and shells at the seashore. Very good! Now I want you to listen to some words to see if they have the /sh/ sound in them or not. Do you hear /sh/ in shell or sea. Do you hear /sh/ in house or shack? Do you hear /sh/ in fish or fin?"


4. Letterbox lesson on the sh digraph. "Let’s try to spell some words that have the /sh/ sound in them." I will draw three letterboxes on the board in order to model how to spell a word using the sh digraph. "I’m going to spell the word ‘ship’. We hear the /i/ vowel sound so I’m going to put that here in the middle. When we sound it out again we hear the /sh/ at the beginning so we put the s and the h letters together in the first box because they make one sound. Then we hear the /p/ at the end so that goes in the last box. Now everybody open up three boxes." (Children will have their own letterboxes on their desks.) Have the children spell shop, fish, and ship. "Now everyone open up four boxes." Have the children spell fresh and crash. "Now I will write each of the words we spelled on the board and we will read them together."


5. Read One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish by Dr. Seuss. "This book is by Dr. Seuss and it’s called One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish. I hear the /sh/ sound in some of those words! While I read this book, I want you to raise your /sh/ cards whenever you hear the /sh/ sound in this book."


6. For assessment, I will have each child read a word from the board that has the /sh/ digraph in it. Example words: fish, wish, splash, ship, sheer, shape, shack.



Adams, Wendy. 2001. Shhh!...Quiet!

Adams, Marilyn. 1990. Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print.

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