Congratulations! Your students have mastered single letter sounds and are probably reading basic sentences. What a fun thing to watch unfold! Now it’s time to keep learning. It’s time to introduce digraphs. Digraphs are important to learn so that students can decode new words with new combined letter sounds. The SH Digraph is the first one I introduce. Here’s how I introduce the digraph concept and the /sh/ sound.
What is a Digraph?
A digraph is two letters that together form one sound. Like the ‘sh‘ in shark or in fish. Instead of making the /s/ sound and the /h/ sound, they form one sound. The four most commonly used digraphs are sh, th, ch, and wh. These are usually the digraphs we teach to our students first.
Teaching digraphs is an important part of teaching phonics. We all know that learning to read and spell in English is much more complicated than just learning the 26 letters of the alphabet and their sounds. Instead we have lots of letter combinations that make a variety of sounds. These common digraphs are the perfect way to introduce this concept to our young readers.
As our students learn to recognize digraphs in words they are able to read more words and more complex words. It also helps them in their writing as they work to spell words based on the sounds they hear.
Introducing Digraphs and the SH Digraph
There are many different ways to introduce digraphs to your students. If you’ve been on the Emily Education site for long, then you know my all time favorite way is to use interactive anchor charts. Any time we start a new skill or concept we create an anchor chart together as a craft. We start with alphabet anchor charts and move on from there. We even use them in math and other subjects. After just a couple my students get so excited any time they see the large blank paper in the front of the room. It has become a signal of new learning to come!
When it’s time for our lesson it is fun to hear the whispers and questions as students try to guess what they will be learning next. The ‘sh’ digraph is usually the first one that I introduce. Because of this it is important to not only introduce the digraph, but to also introduce the concept of a digraph.
I love to start with a long and dramatic “shhhhhhhh” as I quiet my students down. Then I pause, think, and ask if they want to know a secret. Of course they do – they always do! Then I tell them that sometimes letters can change their sounds, and sometimes letters can get a partner and make a new sound. Then I tell them that something I just said is the perfect example and I go back to the ‘shhhhh’ sound.
Next, I ask them what letter makes that sound. After a couple of minutes thinking they usually start shaking their head. Then I let them know if was kind of a trick question – because it is actually 2 letters that make the sound. To find out what letters they are, I send the students off to put together a “puzzle.” This puzzle is letters ‘s’ and ‘h’ and once put together we will add them to the center of our anchor chart.
The SH Digraph Anchor Chart
We start our SH Digraph anchor chart by adding the large ‘sh’ to the page. Then we talk about how the letters ‘s’ and ‘h’ together make the /sh/ sound. We do a little chant together to help students remember that the digraph rule. We finish this part of the lesson by adding the SH digraph poem to the anchor chart.
Now it’s time for some fun and the students’ favorite part! We turn the letters into pictures that represent the sound. The students are always so excited to see what each letter becomes. For this anchor chart, the letter S is turned into a shark and the letter H is turned into a fish. The students take turns in adding the eyes and fins to each letter in order to create our digraph friends. I intentionally used these words and images because it is a great way to show your students that the digraph can come at the beginning of a word like in shark or at the end of the word like in fish.
We finish up our anchor chart by adding picture cards with words that have the target /sh/ sound. Instead of just adding cards, we take the time to sort them into two categories based on where we hear the /sh/ sound. This is a great activity to help reinforce beginning sounds and ending sounds. The students really love saying the word and deciding if the target sound is in the beginning or the end. It’s so cute to see them really listening for the sound.
SH Digraph Craft Activity
Once we have finished our lesson on the SH digraph, we head off to do some practice. Now, don’t worry – this practice will happen over a few days. I try to give my students many different opportunities to work with the new sound. We will continue to review it as a class, but they will also have lots of practice through independent work and centers.
Sometime during the week, we will make the SH digraph craft. The students love creating their own digraph friends and they are always excited to take them home and teach their families. The students will create their own individual version of the class anchor chart. First, they will create the digraph letters and turn them into the shark and the fish. Then they will use the picture cards to sort each word into the correct column. This activity is a great informal assessment so that I can see how students are doing with the digraph.
By the time they complete this activity I have a really good understanding of where each student is and what I can best do to help master this new skill.
Grab your SH Digraph Activities
Teaching digraphs can be so much fun! I have taken everything I use to introduce and teach the SH digraph and put it together in this anchor chart and craft set. All you have to do is print it out and you are ready to use it in your classroom. No crazy drawing or finding ‘sh’ words, that part is all done for you! You can grab the SH Digraph Activity in the Emily Education store.
Save these SH Digraph activities in just a couple clicks! Pin this to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you can come back any time you need fun and engaging activities for digraphs (and so much more)!