If you are under major time constraints, you can teach Module J and then return to Module I. See Fast Track for more details.

1. Overview

Introduce your child to the idea that some sounds have two letters. When those two letter sounds are put together, they make a new sound. These three digraphs — ch, th, and sh — can show up at the beginning or end of a word.

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2. Materials

Print the sound cards onto sturdy card-stock paper, and cut them apart. (You won’t need ng and wh until the next activity.) The word list is for the adult’s reference only.

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3. Activity

Video: How to play Touch & Tell: ch, th, and sh

Show your child the digraph sound cards. Explain to him that the sound pictures (letters) on these cards are best friends. They stick together and say a new sound. Say that the new sounds are easy to learn because of the clues you will show him.

Hold up the ch card in front of the child:

Adult: This card says /ch/, as in chop.
[Make a “chopping” gesture with your hand.]
            Whenever these sounds are said together,
            they will remind you of chop.
[Make “chop” gesture.]
            Now you say the /ch/ sound and do a chop with your hand. Try it.
Child: /ch/ [Makes chopping gesture.]
Adult: Okay, you say a word after me, point to the /ch/ picture,
            and show me how you chop with your hand.
            Like this: cherry
[Point to /ch/ card and do “chop” motion.]
            Your turn: cherry.
Child: Cherry! [Points to /ch/ card and does “chop” motion.]
Adult: Good job.

Next, introduce the /th/ sound. Hold up the /th/ card in front of your child, and then put it down to the right of the /ch/ card.

Adult: This sound is kind of naughty to say.
            Stick your tongue out just a little bit when you say it: /th/.
            Sometimes you can feel your tongue tingle because your top teeth
            tickle it when you say /th/. Watch me.
[pointing to /th/ card] /thhh/.
            Don’t stick your tongue out too much, or you might get in trouble!

Child: /th/
Adult: Again: [pointing to /th/ card] /thhh/.
            Your turn. Get ready to say /thhh/.

Child: /thhh/
Adult: Listen: [pointing to /th/ card] this.
            Your turn to say this. Get ready.

Child: This.
Adult: Yes. Say this again, and point to the /th/ card. Get ready.
Child: [pointing to /th/ card] This.
Adult: Okay. Now you get ready to point to the sound card
            that matches the sound you hear in the words I say.
            I’ll say a word. Then you say it and point to the sound card. Ready?

Go through 10-12 words for the child to repeat and match to the correct sound and sound card. Use the “chop” hand gesture or point to your slightly stuck-out tongue for each word. Encourage the child to do the same.

NOTE: If your child can’t say the /th/ sound properly (maybe he’s missing his front teeth), do the Confidence Builder exercise below to be sure he can hear and identify the sound correctly.

Explain that sometimes these sounds come at the beginning of a word (e.g., chair), and sometimes at the end (e.g., peach). Give some examples of each.

Repeat the words at random two or three times or until the child is solidly able to imitate your word and match the target sound to the correct sound card.

Adult: Nice work! Here’s another special sound: /sh/. [Show /sh/ card.]
            It’s the quiet sound—the sound people make when they put a finger
            in front of their lips to signal “quiet.”
[Demonstrate the gesture.]
            I’m going to say some words with that /sh/ sound in them.
            You listen, then point to the /sh/ card and repeat my word. Ready:
[Point to /sh/ card with one forefinger while making “shh” gesture with other forefinger.]
            Your turn.

Child: [pointing to /sh/ card and making “shh” gesture] Ship.
Adult: Good. Here’s another word: shell

Continue this way, saying a word, pointing to the /sh/ card, and making the “shh” gesture. The child should repeat your word and hand motions. Repeat the words at random several times, until he is confident and decisive in his responses.

Next, put out the three sound cards (/ch/, /th/, and /sh/) in front of the child. Say a total of 12-15 words with various “special sounds” (digraphs). For each word, have the child repeat the word and point to the appropriate sound card. Encourage him to use the gesture for each sound (chopping motion, tongue stuck out, “shh” gesture) to help him remember each sound.

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4. Confidence Builder

Some children, particularly those missing a front tooth, can’t articulate the /th/ sound, so you need to do this exercise to be sure they can hear the difference between /th/ and other sounds.

Seat the child with his back to you. Then present him with 8-10 pairs of words and have the child say if both the words you said started with (or ended with) the same /th/ sound. Pronounce each word in the word pair distinctly and clearly.

Adult: Tell me if both the words I say start with /th/.
            Listen: thinfin.

Child: Um…no!
Adult: Good. Let’s try two more words.
            You tell me if both the words I say end with /th/.
            Listen: teethtooth.

Child: Yes!

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5. Small Groups (2-5 children)

Lesson Objective: Using digraph picture cards as visual aids, children will recognize the ch, sh, and th digraphs in isolation and verbally match them with their corresponding phonemes.

GELDS (Georgia Early Learning & Development Standards): CLL6.4f

Georgia Standards of Excellence: ELAGSEKRF3.a

Common Core State Standards: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RF.K.3.A

Additional Materials:

  • one set of digraph sound cards for each child in the group

Adaptation: Read the main activity, watch the video, and follow the instructions above, with the following changes. Divide this activity into four lessons.

  1. Warm Up: “Tell me the name of your best friend. Did you know letters can have best friends too?” Show each of the sound cards to the group. “These letters stick together to make a new sound. This card says /ch/, as in chop.” Make the “chop” gesture, and have the children copy you. Tell the children you are going to say some “chop” words. They should give a thumbs-up if the word has the /ch/ sound. Be sure to throw in some mistakes: the children will give a thumbs-down if the word does not have a /ch/ sound.
  2. Review the /ch/ sound, and introduce the /sh/ sound. Follow the same format as in Lesson #1.
  3. Review /ch/ and /sh/ by giving words from the word list. Remember to give some “mistake” words that do not have /ch/ or /sh/ sounds. Introduce the /th/ sound. Tell the children this is one time it’s okay to stick your tongue out a little bit at someone. Follow the same format as in Lessons #1 and #2.
  4. Review the /th/ sound by providing words from the word list. If the children have a grasp of these three digraph sounds, they are ready to move on to the next activity.

Give each child a set of digraph sound cards. The children should spread the cards out in front of them so that they can be seen easily. Practice as a group first, calling words from the word list. Tell the children to touch the correct sound card every time you say the word that begins or ends with that sound.

Ask individual children to touch the sound card as you call a word. Check for understanding.

Reinforcement: Use as a transition strategy. Ask the children, “Can you think of a word that begins with /ch/?” Make the “chop” gesture. If the child can think of a word, he may line up, wash hands, choose a center, etc.

Use this Reinforcement at Home form to tell parents and guardians how they can reinforce lessons outside the classroom.

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2 Responses to “I 1: Touch & Tell: ch, th, and sh

  1. amina

    You are an amazing group for providing all these materials. They have save me so much time.

  2. Deirdre Doherty

    You site rocks!!!! I am new to teaching little ones how to read and your material is so helpful. Thank you so very much. Great work!!!!!


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