Lesson Plan:

Thumbs, Theatres, and Thirty, Oh My!

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November 7, 2016
by Catherine Crider
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November 7, 2016
by Catherine Crider

Learning Objectives

At the conclusion of this lesson, students will be able to identify words beginning with the “th” diagraph and recognize which letters make this sound.


Introduction (10 minutes)

  • Call students together.
  • Read students the book The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper. Make sure to stress the words “that” and “think” each time they come up in the book.

Explicit Instruction/Teacher Modeling (5 minutes)

  • Ask students to think about what they remember from the read-aloud. Guide students towards eventually discussing why certain words were stressed and the sound they heard when words were being stressed. Students should begin to recognize that all of the stressed words share the same beginning sound.
  • Write down the letters “t” and “h” on the board for students. Ask students what sound the “t” makes and what sound the “h” makes. Explain to students that when these letters are next to each other in a word, they blend together to make a whole new sound.
  • Tell students that the sound the letters make when they are together in a word is the sound they heard stressed in the story. This is the same sound they hear at the beginning of the word “thanks” or “there.” Write these words out on the board so that students can see the “th” at the beginning.

Guided Practice/Interactive Modeling (5 minutes)

  • Encourage students to think about their body. Can they think of any body parts that begin with the “th” sound? (For example, throat, thigh, thumb). Write these words on the board so that students can see the “th” sound written out and compare the words. Explain why any incorrectly named body parts do not begin with the “th” sound. It can be helpful to also write these words out so that students can see what makes these words different.
  • Say some words like “thorn,” “they,” “trust,” and “torn.” Ask students whether each word begins with the “th” sound or not. Once again, it can be helpful to write the words out on the board so that students can visually see which has the “th” or not once they have identified this by sound first. It can also be fun to just hold up pictures and have students identify what the picture represents and whether or not it begins with the “th” sound.
  • Pass out the Thinking About "Th" worksheet. Explain the directions to cross out words that do not start with “th” diagraph. It may help students to do one or two examples as a class.

Independent Working Time (10 minutes)

  • Before sending students back to their seats to work, review any applicable classroom rules for quiet work times. Any adults in the room should be circulating, answering questions, and redirecting individuals as needed. If some students are allowed to work with partners, consider designating specific portions of the room for partners, so that the noise does not disturb other students.



  • Support: It can be helpful to have an adult pronounce the name for each picture out loud for students. This can be especially beneficial to English Language Learners who may experience pronunciation differences or lack the key vocabulary required by the activity. For students who still need a little extra support, working with a partner can provide additional scaffolding for the activity.
  • Enrichment: For those who need a greater challenge, encourage students to do the Separate Ships worksheet as well as the Thinking About "Th" worksheet. Students who need an extra challenge can also be encouraged to create their own “th” books of words that begin or end with the “th” sound.


Assessment (5 minutes)

  • Students can be informally assessed based on their participation in group discussions and small group interactions. Whether or not students are engaged, able to answer questions, and contributing to the discussion in informed ways are all indicators of student understanding.
  • Students can be more formally assessed based on the amount of correct answers they are able to provide on the Thinking About "Th" worksheet.
  • For an additional form of assessment, students can be assigned another “th” worksheet for homework or asked to come up with a list of 5 to 10 words that include the “th” sound.

Review and Closing (10 minutes)

  • Call students back together.
  • Go through the Thinking About "Th" worksheet. Have students in the class discuss and compare answers as a whole group. This is a great opportunity to clarify any questions and address confusion students may still have.
  • Reread The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper to the class. Pause and have students call out the word every time you reach a “th” sound in the book.
  • Remind students that the “th” sound is made of the letters “t” and “h.” Have every student say one word that starts with this combination of letters.

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