/ch/ as in Chesapeake

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Students will be able to recognize and write the blend /ch/ as part of practicing grade level phonics.

Big Idea

“Feeding” a Chesapeake Bay retriever builds recognition of the /ch/ blend.


10 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I tell the students we are going to watch a short video clip about our latest Maryland State symbol.

“Today we are going to watch a short video clip about one of the more athletic Maryland state symbols. This symbol likes to be very active and they are helpful too. Pay close attention to the adaptations this Maryland symbol has because we are going to test one of them in a science experiment.”

Chesapeake Bay retriever video link

Once the video is over I ask, “Okay so who thinks they know today’s Maryland symbol?”

I select a student who is following the correct classroom protocol of raising their hand to respond.

“That’s right Ava: today’s symbol is the Maryland state dog and it is a Chesapeake Bay retriever. Why do you think the Chesapeake Bay retriever is our state dog?”

I select another student o respond.

“I think you are right Henry; having the word Chesapeake Bay in their name definitely helps because the Chesapeake Bay is part of Maryland.”

“Who can tell me an adaptation they heard in the video that helps this dog?”

I select a student to respond.

“That was a great analogy Finnley. A big barreled chest to break the ice is very much like the hull of an ice breaker ship.”

“What was another adaptation we heard?”

I select enough students to cover the adaptations we heard during the short video clip. Then I turn off the board and sit down to read.   

I use this video to give the students some background information on the type of dog we are reading about. The story we are about to read does not provide any information about the dog breed and I want the students to understand some of the physical characteristics of the dog and what makes it unique to the Chesapeake Bay area. 


45 minutes

“Today’s book is called Chester the Chesapeake written by Barbara Ebel. We can see the dog on the front cover and he certainly looks like a Chesapeake Bay retriever.”  

“What do you think the dog will do in the story?”

I select enough students to cover what we think may happen in the story. There are no wrong answers for this question as we are just making predictions.

“Those were all great predictions as to what we think Chester may do in the book. Let’s go ahead and read to find out if any of our predictions are correct.”


During reading we stop and discuss what we see the animals doing and to read the speech bubbles. We discuss why we think the author uses the speech bubbles.

“I like Christopher’s idea that the author uses the speech bubbles so the reader knows exactly what the dog is thinking at that time.”  


When the book is over I set it to the side and ask, “Can anyone tell me the blend they hear at the beginning of the words Chester and Chesapeake?”

While I am speaking I open up a blank screen on the SMARTBaord.

I select a student to respond to the question.

“Well done Rachel; it is the /ch/ blend. Can anyone tell me which two letters make up the /ch/ blend?”

I select another student to respond.

“Good work Avery; the letters c h do make the blend /ch/.”

“Boys and girls I would like you to think of some other words that use the /ch/ blend like Chester and Chesapeake. Once you have a word raise your hand and I will call on you to tell me so we can write it on the SMARTBoard.”

I call on a number of students to give me the words they have come up with using the /ch/ blend. We sound them out together as I write them on the board.

Once I have a good selection on the board I tell the students to take a seat around the edge of the rug.

Edge of the Rug Song

I sit at the front of the group and say, “Today at one of your work stations you will find some pages that look like this (I hold up the samples of paper the students will find at their work station).”

Maryland State Dog. - ch blend images and dog for paper bag

“It will be your job to cut out the dog and glue him onto a brown paper bag like this one (I hold up another sample for the students to see).”

“Next you will cut out the images which have the /ch/ blend like Chester the Chesapeake and “feed” them to your Chesapeake Bay retriever.” I model the process while I am talking so my visual learners have a better understanding of the directions being given to them.

“Once I am done I will write my name on the bottom of my Chester and put it in my cubby to take home with me.”

“Does anyone have any questions?”


Once I feel the group has a good grasp of the instructions I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;

“Table number one let’s go have some /ch/ blend fun.

Table number two, you know what to do.

Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and

Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”


Allow the students 15 minutes to work on this activity. Set a visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely.

Students working on finding ch blend images.

Students working on finding ch blend images 2.

Student working on finding ch items for her Chester.



Blending is a skill easily overlooked. As proficient readers we already ‘know’ the entire word and can easily break sounds apart and effortlessly put the word together again. Since it is effortless for us we often fail to recognize the difficulty beginners face in combining individual sounds to form words. Beginner readers do not ‘know’ the end result (the word). Therefore, choppy segmenting of sounds can prevent them from being able to combine sounds together and form the word. 


To read proficiently, the student needs to learn to blend individual sounds smoothly together into words without choppy pauses between the sounds. The ability to seamlessly combine individual sounds together into the fluid word is not only vital for developing correct phonologic processing, it is also critical for developing eventual fluency. Recognizing consonant blends leads to smooth blending which is one of the subskills vital to developing correct phonologic processing, the foundation for proficient reading.


To avoid potential difficulty it is important to directly teach smooth blending skills from the beginning. The student needs to automatically engrain the skill of smooth blending. Also remember, it is always easier to develop correct techniques in the initial stages then try to ‘undo’ engrained bad habits of ‘choppy’ ‘segmented’ sounding out. Take the time to develop smooth blending from the very beginning. 


10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look, listen” technique mentioned above.

“When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”

Students know to put completed work in the finished work bin. Any work that is not completed goes into the under construction bin and can be completed throughout the day whenever the student finds he/she has spare time or it will be completed during free choice center time.


Once the students are seated I tell them that their exit slip for today is to tell me a word which has the /ch/ blend.

“Today’s exit ticket is you have to tell me a word that has the /ch/ blend. Your word can have the /ch/ blend at the beginning like Chester the Chesapeake or it may have the /ch/ blend at the end like beach and witch.”

“Now you will need to come up with two or three words because once a word has been used it is…”  

The students are very used to hearing me say this now and will chant back, “Off the menu!”

Off the Menu

“Now I am going to give you about ten seconds to think of your /ch/ blend words.”

I hold up my arm and look at my watch as I “time” their thinking. I also pretend to be thinking so the students stayed focused on thinking.

“Okay your time is up. I hope you thought carefully because here we go.”  

I use the fair sticks to determine the order of the students.

Once a student has told me his/her word they are able to use the hand sanitizer and go to get their snack. If a student is unable to give me an answer, they know they can do one of two things.

  1. They can ask a friend to help, or
  2. They can wait until everyone else has gone and then we will work on coming up with a word together.


Using this easy formative assessment tool gives me an opportunity to see if a student can quickly recall the skill they just used to complete the activity. They have just practiced using their phonetic abilities during the activity so it should not be difficult for the students to respond to this request. However, if a student does have a hard time coming up with a response I will take note because I need to find out if the student had difficulty because he/she has trouble transferring skill use from one activity to another or perhaps he/she was copying peer work at the table and does not have the skill themselves. Knowing the answer to this question will determine how I handle the situation. 


For this lesson I call the students over to see me during a time such as free choice centers.

I ask the students to look at the ch blend assessment and I ask them to find and circle the items which have the /ch/ blend. The blend can be at the beginning or the end of the word. I am simply trying to find out if the student can isolate and recognize the blend. Some students may only hear the /ch/ blend at the beginning of the word and some may only hear it at the end of the word.  

Be advised that some of the pictures can be interpreted different ways. For example the dog with the bone could be interpreted as “chew” which is okay and the picture with the dog food could be interpreted as dog “chow.” Just make sure the student explains the rationale for their choice and this will give you a better idea of their ability.

I make any notes I need on the assessment and place it in the student’s portfolio.  


Students make a Chesapeake Bay retriever. They color the dog using the correct colored crayons for the coat. Next they add some brown construction paper curls to represent the Chesapeake Bay retriever’s curly, oily waterproof coat. Finally they write some –og word family words around the edge.

Chester the Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

Student decorating her Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

Student adding details to his Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

Student working on -og word family words.


At another station we test what it is like to have webbed “feet.” We pull our hands through water with our fingers spread and then we put plastic bags over our hands to mimic having webbed “feet.” We note the difference in our science journals. 

Student feeling the difference of having webbed feet.

Recording his observation in his science journal.