Shhhh! She's reading S-H!


Beginning Reading Design

By: Katie Price



Rationale: Once students conquer the ability to read short vowels, it is important to begin teaching them common digraphs. Digraphs are two letters that represent a single vocal gesture, such as sh, ch, and ph. It is important that students learn to pronounce digraphs in order to easily, and correctly decode a word. In this lesson students will focus on learning the digraph S-H (/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, students will be able to recognize the sh digraph.



Sign with "Shhh… People are reading." on it, and a librarian with her finger to her lips


Two Expo markers (different colors)


Primary paper

Copies for each student of the book: A Crash in the Shed

Worksheet for assessment



1) Did you know that two letters can sometimes make one sound? Well, have you ever been in the library and seen a sign like this? (Hold up the "Shhh… People are reading." Sign)

 - Well, when I walked in and saw a sign that said "/s/-/h/ People are trying to read!" Not knowing what the beginning letters on the sign meant I yelled to my friend Shelly "Hey, where did you find that book?"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 knew this because that sign had a person with their fingers over their mouth just like my librarian. If you saw this sign would you be able to tell me what the S-H would make? Well, today we are going to work on recognizing the /sh/ in words.  


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/. "She told Shelly to wish for fish for Shawn." (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. " Shhhhhe told Shhhhelly to wishhhh for fishhhh for Shhhhawn." Nice work everyone. "Now. Let's work one separating /sh/. Listen to me practice on the first word. '/sh/ e' do you hear how I separated them? Ok now let's do the whole thing together. /Sh/e told /Sh/ elley to wi/sh/ for fi/sh/ for /Sh/awn. Great jod!"


4) Can anyone think of some other words that START with the phoneme /sh/? For example, she. (As students raise their hands, they share aloud some words they believe have the /sh/. 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.) 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 - fish, shout - yell, smash - break, shell - disk, she - he? Awesome work! I knew you were experts. Let's tryand read a hard word now. Let's look at shocking. Listen to me sound it out. "sssshhhh- 'that's our /sh/ sound!' sh oocckkkiinngg. Shocking… shocking! Now you try splashing!"



6) "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.


7) 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.


8) Have students go back to their desks and pass out /sh/ worksheet. There will be a column of words (ship, shell, fish, hand, cup, bush) The students are to draw a line from the words to their picture. If it has /sh/ in the word, they are to color the picture.




-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 -


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