Complex Consonants Lesson Plan

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

This lesson plan introduces beginning readers to complex consonants, including consonant digraphs and consonant trigraphs through the use of word sorting, a word wall, and the use of texts that repeat the target digraph and trigraph patterns.

Learning Objectives

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • identify words with common digraphs
  • analyze words for common digraph patterns
  • locate and sort words that contain common digraphs
  • define consonant digraph and consonant trigraph (consonant cluster) and give examples
  • distinguish among vowels and consonants


30-60 minutes

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.1.3.a

Know the spelling-sound correspondences for common consonant digraphs.


  • Consonant digraph: Two letters that make one sound. Examples: sh, ch, th, wh, ck, ph, ng
  • Consonant trigraph: Three letters that make one sound. Examples: scr, dge, nth, sch, shr, spl, spr, squ, str, thr; these are also called 'consonant clusters'

Materials Needed

  • Word wall
  • Index cards
  • Markers or highlighters
  • One or more of the following books in each category:
  • SH Books
    • Shake, Shake, Shake by Andrea Pinkney
    • Sheep in a Shop by Nancy Shaw
    • Sheep on a Ship by Nancy Shaw
    • I Love My Shadow by Hans Wilhelm
    • Splish, Splash by Sarah Weeks
    • Where is Green Sheep? by Mem Fox
    • One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss
    • Shoo, Fly! by Joy Cowley
    • Smiley Shark by Ruth Galloway
    • The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
  • CH Books
    • Charlie the Chicken by N. Denchfield
    • Ah-Choo by Margery Cuyler
    • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin
    • Say Cheese, Please! by Leslie McGuirk
    • Itchy, itchy Chicken Pox by Grace MacCarone
    • Tippy-Toe Chick, Go! by Laura Dronzek
  • TH Books
    • This is the House That Jack Built by Simms Taback
    • I Can Read About Thunder and Lightning by David Cutts
    • The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper
    • Oh, the Thinks You Can Think by Dr. Seuss
    • Ohio Thunder by Denise Dowling Mortensen
    • One, Two, Three by Sandra Boynton
    • Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco
    • Thunder Doesn't Scare Me by Lynea Bowdish
    • Cousin Ruth's Tooth by Amy MacDonald
    • Thunder Bunny by Barbara Helen Berger
    • Mouths and Teeth by Elizabeth Miles


  • Show the video Vowels & Consonants: Lesson for Kids.
  • Project the Vowels & Consonants: Lesson for Kids Worksheet using a SmartBoard or projector so that all the students can see the questions. Complete the questions together as a check that the students understand the difference between vowels and consonants.
  • Introduce the words 'consonant digraph' and 'consonant cluster' (consonant trigraph) to the students by reminding them first what consonants are, and then by showing them lists of the consonant digraphs and consonant clusters.
  • Use a pocket chart and word cards to practice sorting words with consonant digraphs and consonant clusters. Ask students to sort the words into the correct column in a pocket chart or on a word wall.


  • After students demonstrate understanding that consonant digraphs have two letters and consonant clusters have three letters, select one consonant digraph for the focus of the rest of the lesson.
    • You can repeat the following part of the lesson several times until you have introduced all of the consonant digraphs and then consonant clusters over a period of days. The rest of this particular lesson will focus on the consonant digraph 'sh.'

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