Shells or Fish

Beginning Reading
Bridgett Wilson


Title: Shells or Fish


Rational: Students must be able to recognize letters before being able to connect them to their corresponding phonemes. After the mastery of letter recognition and short vowels, students should be introduced to digraphs. A digraph is a group of two successive letters whose phonetic value is a single sound (SIL International). The objective of this lesson is to have the students capable of identifying the digraph /sh/ in spoken and written language. They will accomplish this by means of meaningful representation and letter(s) symbol, and practice finding /sh/ in words.



Picture of water hose with the diagraph /sh/ written underneath on primary paper

A Crash in the Shed by Gerri Murray (1 per students and one for teacher) (laminate each)

Primary paper


Elkonin boxes for students and teacher

Letter tiles (c, d, e f, h, i, l (2), r, s, w, u, a) for students and teacher

List of words student will spell and read (3- dish, shed, fish, rush, wish 4- shell, crash, shelf, flash)

Message Topic: The student will write about a time he or she went fishing or hunting shells.

Tongue twister: Shelly shook her sea shells by the sea shore!

Worksheet with /sh/ words: 1.) = shell or starfish 2.) = dish or cup 3.) = table or shelf.

Red Expo Marker

List of pseudo words: blash, grush, shotten, and shicked



1.) Introduce the lesson by telling the students about the two letters s an h. We have been talking about how letters make certain sounds, today, we are going to look at the letters s and h and find out what special sound they make together.

2.) The teacher will post the picture of the water hose on the board. What sound does a water hose make? That is right, shhhhhhh! Everyone hold out your arm, it has just turned into a water hose. The teacher (with his or her arm moving back and forth) models the /sh/ mouth movement and vocal sound. Since your arms are already water hoses, can everyone make the /sh/ sound along with me? Ssssssshhhhhhhhhh!!! Great, I notice that everyone has their teeth together and their lips puckered and are pushing the air through your teeth. Now every time you see a /sh/ in a word you can think of the water hose and the sound it makes.

3.) Let's try our tongue twister: Shelly shook her shells by the sea shore! Everyone say it with me: "Shelly shook her sea shells by the sea shore!" That is great! Now let us slow it down and emphasis the /sh/ sound. Everyone hold up your water hoses (model while emphasizing) and "Ssssshhhhhhelly sssssshhhhhook her sea sssssshhhhhells by the sea sssssssshhhhore!

4.) Next, I would like everyone to use their water hoses to tell me whether you hear the water hose sound in the following words. If you do hear the word, wiggle the water hose around to let me know that the water is running, but if you do not hear the /sh/ sound drop your arm because the water has been turned off! Ready? Great! Do you hear the /sh/ sound in shell or mail? Shell (the students wiggle their arms), mail (drop arms). Great job, the /sh/ is in shell!  What about wreck, crash? Wreck (arms are dropped), crash (wiggly arms). Great job, again! Last one, do you hear the /sh/ sound in Shelf, desk? Shelf (wiggly arms), desk (arms are dropped). Wow, nothing can get past any of you!

5.) Everyone take out your Elkonin boxes and letter tiles (c, d, e f, h, i, l (2), r, s, w, u, a) from your phoneme kit. The teacher will take out his or hers Elkonin boxes and letter tiles as well. I would like for there to be only three boxes showing. Now, remember since the /sh/ sound is made by the s and the h, we are going to place them in the same letter box. If the word is ship, we would place the s and the h in the first letter box. We do this because our mouth move tells us too. Everyone make the /sh/ sounf. Fell how your teeth are pressed together and how the air is being pushed out through your teeth; this tells us that the s and the h make one sound.Next, we place the i in the second letter box, and the p in the last letter box, like so (model this process).  I am going to say some words and I would like for you to place the letters in the correct letter boxes. I will walk around to make sure everyone is on target. If not, I will pronounce the word the student has spelled and have the student try again. I will complete the list of words (3- dish, shed, fish, rush, wish, shell 4- crash, shelf, flash) then have the students remove their letter boxes.

6.) I am going to place some words on the board one at a time. I would like for everyone to read them aloud together. If I were to say flash, I would try and find the vowel first /a/, then work from the beginning of the word like this: /f/, /l/, /fl/, fla/, /sh/, /flash/. That is how you spell flash! After modeling the word, I will give the students the list of words (3- dish, shed, fish, rush, wish 4- shell, crash, shelf, flash) to complete. I will walk around and ask students to read the words to me individually.

7.) Now, I would like everyone to take out their copy of A Crash in the Shed by Gerri Murry.  (Book Talk) Tim and Jan are trying to find something to do on this hot day. Tim wants to fish, but Jan wants to collect shells! They go into the shed to find the things they will need for their trip, but something happens. What is it that happens to Tim and Jan? Is there someone or something in the shed? Will they get to go on their trip? I would like you to whisper read to a partner at your table and find out what happens to Tim and Jan.

8.) Since the books are laminated and give to each student to use, I will have the students circle the words in the book that have the /sh/ sound with a red expo marker. This will indicate they are familiar with the /sh/ in written words.

9.) After the students have finished reading and circling, I will pass out primary paper for them to construct a message on. The message topic will be about a time the student had gone fishing or hunting shells.


Assessments: The students will be assessed by a handout where they will match the picture with its corresponding /sh/ word.
1.) = shell or starfish

2.)  = dish or cup

3.) = table or shelf. While the students are working on this handout, I will assess the student's ability to pronounce the following pseudo words: blash, grush, shotten, and shicked.



SIL International. What is a diagraph? Retrieved March 9, 2008, from

Murray, G. A Crash in the Shed. (2006). Retrieved March 9, 2008, from:

Picture of water hose: 

Murray, Bruce.  How to Teach Letterbox Lessons (reading genie website)

Pegues, Katie. Icky sticky Mess. (Fall 2007). Retrieved March 9, 2008 from:

Zickos, Megan. Cheddar Chips. (Fall 2007). Retrieved March 9, 2008 from:

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