"Chug-a" Goes the Choo-Choo

 Beginning Reading


Lindsay Phillips

Rationale: When learning to read, students must learn that sometimes letters in succession, or letter clusters, make a single sound.  The goal of this lesson is to teach students to recognize and associate the two successive letters, c and h, as the digraph ch, and associate it with the phoneme /ch/ in spoken words.  This will be achieved by associating the /ch/ sound with a meaningful representation (revolving fists to imitate the turning of wheels on a train) and practicing phonemic awareness skills as students learn to distinguish the phoneme /ch/ at the beginning and end of words.  Students will also use letterboxes and decodable readers to learn to spell and read words with this letter-sound correspondence.


card with the letter c on it

card with the letter h on it

card with letters ch together with picture of choo-choo train

chart with tongue twister "Chuck the chimp chugs cheerily on the choo-choo."

marker board

dry-erase marker

Elkonin boxes

letter box tiles:  c, h, a, t, i, n, o, p, m, u, r, l, n 

Chips for the Chicks by Geri Murray, downloaded and printed from Reading Genie website

cards with the words: chop, chin, chap, check, chew

cards with the words:  chat, chin, chop, much, rich, chant, and lunch



1.  Say, "Have any of you ever ridden on a train or seen one on television?  One of the first things you notice about a train is the sounds it makes when the wheels turn and when the engineer blows the horn.  Both of these sounds start the same way.  As the wheels turn, the train makes a sound like this chug-a, chug-a, chug-a.  When the engineer blows the horn, it sounds like this, choo-choo.  We've already learned the secret code for the letters of the alphabet and the sounds they make. Today you're going to learn that sometimes when two letters come together, they work as a team to make one sound." 

2.  (Show students card with the letter c on it.)  Say, "What letter is this?  What sound does it make?"  (Hold up the letter h.)  "What letter is this?  Do you remember the sound it makes?" If students do not answer correctly, review these letters and their phonemes. If students answer correctly, say, "I see you already know the sounds each of these letters make when they are by themselves.  Now we'll talk about the sounds these letters make when they're written together in a word."  (Show students the card with the letters ch and the picture of the choo-choo train.)  "The sound that these letters make together is /ch/.  When you make the /ch/ sound, your teeth are together, and you're forcing air out between your teeth as you open your lips.  Watch me.  Just put your top and bottom teeth together and force air through your teeth to make the /ch/ sound.  This is just like the sound at the beginning of the words chug and choo-choo that describe the sounds a train makes.  To help me remember, I'm going pretend I'm the wheels on the train as I make the sound."  (Show students the gesture, pumping fists in a revolving motion like the wheels of a train as you make the /ch/ sound.)

3.  "Let's practice making the /ch/ sound together."  (Hold up the letters ch.) "What sound do these letters make when you see them together?  Make sure to show me what your mouth is doing when you make the /ch/ sound.  Show me your train wheels!" 

4.  "Now let's see if we can find the /ch/ sound in the word chop.  I'm going to stretch the word left out very slowly.  I'll know the /ch/ sound is in the word if I have my teeth together and blow out while I open my lips.  Listen carefully.  Chhh-op.  Chhh-op.  Did you hear it?  I just kept my teeth together and blew out while my lips were open.  I made the /ch/ sound!  We do say /ch/ in chop!"

5.  "Let's look at a tongue twister that has words with the /ch/ sound.  Read the words with me as I point to them."  (Hold up chart and read "Chuck the chimp chugs cheerily on the choo-choo" several times with students as you point to each word.)  "Now let's stretch out the /ch/ sound in each word as I point to it, Chchchuck the chchchimp chchchugs chchcheerily on the chchchoo, chchchoo.  Now, break the /ch/ sound apart from the rest of the word as I point to it, /Ch/ uck the /ch/ imp /ch/ ugged along on the /ch/ oo /ch/ oo."

6.  "Great job!  Now, put your eyes on me again.  Let's listen for the /ch/ sound some more.  Do you hear /ch/ in meal or lunch?  In grape or peach?  In cheek or face?  In ring or chime?  In chair or desk?  In kid or child?"

7.  (Hold up the card with chop on it.)  "Look at this card.  Do you think it says hop or chop?  I see the letters c and h are together in this word, and I know these two letters work together to make the /ch/ sound.  This word is chhh-op.  (Hold up chin.)  Fin or chin?  (Hold up chap.)  Map or chap?  (Hold up check.)  Deck or check?  (Hold up chew.)  Chew or flew?" 

8.  "Let's use our letterboxes to make words that have the /ch/ sound.  Remember when we use our letterboxes, you should listen for each sound and then use the letters to show each sound you hear. I'll show you how to do one first. (Demonstrate with letter boxes drawn on marker board so everyone can see.)  "I'm going to spell chat.  The first sound in the word chat is /ch/.  That is spelled with a c and an h that work together to make that one sound, so I'm going to put both letters in the first box.  The next sound, /a/, is the short a sound that you have already learned. It is spelled with an a, so I am going to put an a in the next box.  The last sound in the word chat is the /t/ sound made by the letter t, so I'll put a t in the last box.  Now we have the word chat!  Let's blend the word, chhhaaatttt.  Great job!  Now, you're ready to make some /ch/ words.   Remember that the ch letter team makes one sound, so both of those letters always go in one box."  (Make sure that each child has three letterboxes open on their desk and the letters c, h, a, t, i, n, o, p, m, u, r, l, and n ready.)  "Let's start with the word chin.  Very good!  Now spell the word chop.  Great.  Spell the word much.  Wow!  You remembered to put that /ch/ sound at the end of the word.  Let's try another one.  Spell the word rich.  Great!  You're doing such a good job, I want you to open another box and we'll spell a word that's just a little more challenging.  Does everyone have four boxes open now?  Try spelling the word chant.  Wow!  Here's another one.  See if you can spell lunch.  Wonderful!"

9.  "Let's put up our letter boxes and practice reading the words we just made."  (Take up letters and letterboxes so that students' attention is focused on you.  Hold up pre-made flash cards and have students read the words chat, chin, chop, much, rich, chant, and lunch.)

10. (Pass out copies of Chips for the Chicks by Geri Murray.)  Say, "Now let's practice reading a story to use the new sound we learned." Give book talk:  "Jess and Ben want to have a picnic and play with the chicks that have just hatched.  Guess what happens when their dog Lad grabs the bag of chips from their picnic lunch.  Let's read and find out!" 

Assessment: For evaluation, mix up the two sets of index cards you used for the lesson. Stack up the cards blank side up at the front of the room. Place two paper bags beside them.  On one bag write "ch Words with 3 Sounds."  On the other bag write "ch Words with 4 Sounds."  Taking turns, have students come to the front of the room, take a card, read the word, count the sounds, and place the card in the proper bag.)



The Reading Genie: http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/

Chirping Chicks! by Amy Harris, Projects Lessons Designs 2009,  http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/projects/harrisbr.html

 CH, CH, Choo Choo! By Katelyn Jernigan, Projects Lessons Designs 2009, http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/projects/jerniganbr.html

Hand Gestures for Phonemes, The Reading Genie, http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/gestures.html

The Letterbox Lesson by Bruce Murray, The Reading Genie, http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/letbox.html


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