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postheadericon Teaching sh/th digraphs

In Unit 2- Week 1 of Reading Street, students are introduced to the consonant digraphs th and sh.  "What's a digraph anyway?" I'm glad you asked.  It is two consonants that stand together to make a single sound

Teaching the hard and soft sound of th can be daunting, especially for your ELL and special education students.  Many students confuse the /th/ sound for different sounds including the /f/ sound.  There are many ways to teach digraphs.  This week we pair th and sh together.  Some teachers like to teach the H Brothers (th, sh, ch, and wh) all togetherHere are some of the activities I used this week to make it a little easier for all learners.


Teacher Table- Introduction- oral activity using the sh and th Lively Letter cards

I begin by telling the students that the S makes the /s/ sound and that the H makes the /h/ sound but when we put them together they make the /sh/ sound. I place my finger on my lips and say shhhh. When we put these two letters together they become the digraph /sh/.  I then go around and ask students to give me some examples of /sh/ words.

Words with initial sh sound

  • ship
  • shoe
  • shop
  • shut
  • shed

Words with final sh: (on level and advanced groups)

  • fish
  • crash
  • smash
  • trash
  • dish

I then say T makes the /t/ sound and H makes the /h/ sound but when we put them together they make the /th/ sound. There are two sounds for /th/ digraph, a quiet and a noisy sound.  We then go through each sound using the lively letter cards as a visual guide.  I then go around and ask students to give me some examples of quiet /th/ words and noisy /th/ words.

Words with hard/noisy th sound- bite your tongue and blow

  • that
  • this
  • these
  • than
  • there
  • them
  • then

Words with soft/quiet th sound

Initial th:

  • thing
  • thank
  • think
  • thin

Final th: (on level and advanced groups)

  • bath
  • math
  • both

I wrap up by placing the th cards and the sh card in front of the group.  I call out a word and students (one at a time) have to point to the card that tells me which sound is in my word.  I then reverse roles with my students and ask each one to think of a word and they have to "quiz" me to see if I know which sound it makes.

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workstation activity: sh/th word sort

You can download this at TEACHERS PAY TEACHERS












workstation activity- digraph picture cards using Florida Center for Reading Research ~ I used these materials to create a center that worked for each group and adjusted the rigor accordingly. 




workstation activity- sh and th digraph flipbook

I have the students use this sh worksheet and this th worksheet, both available for free at They only use the heading and the bottom portion of each page .  Students use the headings to create the front of their flipbook tabs and then color and cut out only the pictures with the sh or th sounds. They glue each picture under the appropriate flap. 



A good book to teach the sh digraph is Sh Sh Sh Let the Baby Sleep by Kathy Stemke


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