Th, Sh, and Wh Background Information for Teachers and Parents
This page contains information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about the digraphs th, sh, and wh. The information is designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. movie Th, Sh, and Wh. It explains the type of content covered in the movie, provides ideas for how teachers and parents can develop related understandings, and suggests how other BrainPOP Jr. resources can be used to scaffold and extend student learning.
A digraph is a pair of letters that form one phoneme, or sound. This phonics movie will explore the digraphs th, sh, and wh. You may also wish to explore our phonics movie on the ch sound in conjunction with this topic. We encourage you to explore books together with children and look for words that feature the digraphs. We also strongly recommend pausing the movie and providing opportunities for children to come up with their own examples.
Remind children that vowels are the letters a, e, i, o, u, and sometimes y. Consonants are all the other letters in the alphabet. Sometimes when consonants come together, they form a different sound.
Remind children that the letter t makes the ttt sound, as in top, time, and tame. The letter h makes the hhh sound, as in hip, home,and help. Together the letters make the th sound, as in then, this,and think. Find different examples of words that use the th sound, including words where the digraph appears in the beginning, middle, or end of the word. Examples include path, math, brother, father, and mother. There are a few exceptions to the pronunciation of this digraph, including Thomas, Thames, andthyme.
Review with children that the letter s makes the sss sound, as insun, sip, and seat. The letter h makes the hhh sound, as in hand, hope, and house. Together the letters make the sh sound, as inship, shake, and shell. Find different words that use the sh sound. Examples include fisherman, mushroom, crash, bush, and shore.
Review with children that the letter w makes the www sound, as inwin, well, and wake. The letter h makes the hhh sound, as in hiss, ham, and hole. Together the letters can make the wh sound, as inwhale, what, when, and whine. Some children may notice that the digraph wh can make the same sound as the letter w. The pronunciation of this digraph can differ with regional and cultural accents—some people may have a more aspirated pronunciation. The digraph wh can also make the hhh sound as in who or whole. In those words, the digraph makes the same sound as the letter h. When children encounter a word with wh, encourage them to pronounce it with the wh sound first, since that is more common.
Remind children that when they encounter a word with a digraph, they should not sound each letter out separately. Instead they should pronounce the letters together, with one sound. Present children with challenging words or sentences and have them read the sentences aloud, taking care to pronounce each digraph as one unit of sound.
Encourage children to read out loud and explore different sounds letters can make. Help them explore language and listen to its musicality. We recommend doing plenty of read-alouds together and coming up with tongue twisters to explore different digraphs.