Shhh...Says Sheila the Short Librarian


Beginning Reading


Leah Impastato

Emergent Literacy


Rationale: Once students learn to read words with vowels, their next step is working with digraphs. Digraphs are two letters that represent a single vocal gesture, such as sh, ch, ea, or ph. It is important that students learn to pronounce diagraphs in order to correctly, and more easily decode a word. In this lesson students will focus on learning the diagraph /sh/ by motioning when they hear /sh/ in a word, repeating a /sh/ tongue tickler, stretching out words and listening for the /sh/ phoneme, reading a decodable book, and practicing writing the letters sh.



Sign: "Sh... People are trying to read!"


Two Expo markers (different colors)


Primary paper

Class copies of the book: A Crash in the Shed

/sh/ worksheet (teacher made with the words dish, trash, ship, shirt, cash, shell in one column, and a corresponding picture of each mixed up in the column to the right of it)



1) (Have sign posted on board) Did you know that two letters can sometimes make one sound? Well I found this out the hard way at the library.

- I walked in and saw a sign that said "/s/-/h/ People are trying to read!" Not knowing what the sign meant I yelled to my friend Sharkie "Hey what's up". And that was when I met Shelia the short librarian. She said "shh, shame on you young lady. You better be quiet, you are in the silent zone of the library". I looked at her with her finger over her mouth and said "oh /sh/ that's what the sign said".

I did not know that the two letters on the sign made the one sound /sh/. Did you know that?

Today we are going to look at words, a book, and spellings that have the phoneme /sh/ in them so that we will be able to read signs, books and words, and hopefully stay out of trouble.


2) Let's look at the phoneme /sh/ (write on the board). Now I want everyone to say /sh/. How does your mouth move when you say /sh/? That's right it your lips poke out with a slot in between them which air leaks out of, and your rows of teeth are on top of each other. Everyone try saying it one more time and really stretching out the sound. Great Job!


3) Ok, now let's practice saying a tongue tickler (written on board). I will read it to you first and then we will all say it together. Listen carefully for our special sound /sh/. "Sheila the short librarian got on to me for shouting to my shy friend Sharkie." (Practice as a class) Now stretch out the sentence slowing down on the words that have the phoneme /sh/ in them, and covering your mouth with one finger like Sheila. Nice work everyone.


4) Can anyone think of some other words that start with the phoneme /sh/? (As students share aloud write the words on the board in list form and underline the letters sh in another color) Can anyone think of any words that end in the phoneme /sh/? (Record these words in another column, continuing to underline the letters sh in another color. If students are stuck give an example such as fish) (Model reading the word fish to the class.) To read one of these words we look at the vowel i which says /i/ like icky sticky fingers, then add the /f/ to make /f/i/ and finally add the last phoneme /sh/. Like fiiishhhh.  Can I have five volunteers read a word off of the list? Thank you.


5) "Now I want you to practice reading on your own". Have students whisper read A Crash in the Shed individually. Give book talk: "Jan and Tim are two friends. On a hot day they decide to fish and swim. As they go to the shed to get all of their supplies, CRASH, there is an accident. Will Tim and Jan be ok? Why did the accident happen? Was someone else in the shed? We will have to read to find out." Walk around and monitor students for pronunciation and to ensure that each student is actually reading.


6) Now we are going to practice writing the letters that make the phoneme /sh/. Take out a pencil and a sheet of paper to practice. We use two letters to make the phoneme /sh/. (Model) Remember to make an s you form a tiny c up in the air, and then swing back. Let's write the first letter s three times. The next letter in the phoneme /sh/ is h. Practice writing h three times, (model) remembering that you start at the roof and make a straight line all the way to the sidewalk, and then you make a little hump to end back on the sidewalk. I will walk around and check your work. Now put these two letters together to make the phoneme /sh/ (model). Practice writing the phoneme four times and then pick a word off the list on the board to write below your line of phonemes.


7) I have a mini listening quiz for you since you have become a /sh/ expert. I am going to read pairs of words and I want you to cover your mouth with your quiet finger when you hear the phoneme /sh/. Do you hear /sh/ in fin or fish, shout or yell, smash or break, shell or disk, she or he? Awesome work! I knew you were experts.


8) Have groups rejoin whole group and pass out /sh/ worksheet. Direct students to connect pictures of a ship, dish, shell, shirt, some trash, and cash to the written word in the column across from it.



-Listen to students reading to ensure that they are reading words with sh in them as one phoneme.

-Assess student understanding by checking their /sh/ worksheet to see if they have connected words containing /sh/ to the corresponding picture.




A Crash in the Shed, Geri Murray and other decodable books -



Other lessons:


Return to the Solutions index