SH Words: A Comprehensive List for Home Speech Therapy 

sh words

Children often learn the forty-four speech sounds needed for clear and fluent expression by the age of 7-8. Having said that, certain sounds are trickier than others, especially if they require fine muscle control, they’re difficult to ‘see’, or your child is unable to identify the sound correctly. 

One of the most common tricky sounds in English is the /sh/ sound (ʃ). This is frequently substituted with an /s/, /c/, or /t/ sound, making words like ‘fish’ sound like ‘fiss’ or even left out altogether. 

Over time, this usually resolves itself. However, if your child is still having problems, sh-word speech therapy can help. 

We’ve created this article to provide you with a comprehensive list of these /sh/ words along with phrases, sentences, games, activities, and even books you can use at home or in a professional speech therapy setting. 

Keep reading to discover how to pronounce this tricky sound correctly, get plenty of practice, and how the technologically-advanced Forbrain headset can help. 

Word list: /sh/ (ʃ) Sound Word List  

If you want to improve your child’s pronunciation of the tricky /sh/ sound, you should start by helping them understand where this sound appears in real-life language. 

To help, we’ve created a comprehensive list of the most common /sh/ words that your kid is most likely to use every single day. This includes the /sh/ at the beginning (initial), middle (medial), and end of the word (final). 

You can use this high-frequency list of /sh/ words as a reference throughout your home speech therapy or to encourage your child to get extra articulation practice. 

What is the /sh/ (ʃ) sound?

First, let’s have a quick look at what the /sh/ sound actually is.

Written as (ʃ) in the International Phonetic Alphabet, this sound appears at the beginning of words like ‘shoe’, ‘shop’, and ‘sheep’, in the middle of words like ‘ocean’, ‘mushroom’ and ‘milkshake’ and at the end of words like ‘fish’, ‘push’ and ‘brush’. 

Note that the /sh/ sound doesn’t always correspond to the spelling <sh> and can also be written as <ch>, <sch>, <t>, <c>, <s>, <sc>, and <ss>. That’s why you should always focus on the sound, not the spelling. 

In speech therapy, we call this sound a post-alveolar unvoiced fricative. This means that when you pronounce this sound, your tongue is near or touching the roof of your mouth, your vocal cords are not vibrating and the sound passes through a small space in your mouth. 

Here is a list of the most high-frequence /sh/ words in English:

Initial /sh/ Words (at the beginning of the word)Medial /sh/ Words (in the middle of the word) Final /sh/ Words (at the end of the word)

Further /sh/ sound practice using short phrases and sentences

Now that your child has practiced pronouncing /sh/ words in isolation, it’s time to extend their skills by trying short phrases and sentences. 

By doing so, you’ll be helping them practice moving from one sound to another, building fluency, and exercising their articulation muscles so they can communicate effectively in real-life contexts. 
Here at Forbrain, we encourage you to follow this /sh/ sound home speech therapy program.

  • Ensure that your child can articulate /sh/ sound correctly by following our pronunciation guide below. If not, continue to practice until they are comfortable. Note that they don’t need to be completely fluent yet- practice makes perfect!
  • Move on to using carrier phrases so they can immediately use these words for real-life communication. 
  • Practice using short phrases and sentences for the /sh/ sound.
  • Enjoy games and activities and read books with your child to reinforce what they have learned and get extra practice. 

Carrier Phrases

Popular in professional speech therapy, carrier phrases can help elevate your child’s pronunciation of the /sh/ sound because they’re easy to use and are relevant to real-life contexts too. 

To use them, simply choose a sentence, slot an /sh/ word into the space then practice. We recommend you do this with initial, medial, and final /sh/ words. 

Here are some of our favorite carrier phrases: 

  • “I see a…”
  • “I found a…”
  • “I want a…”
  • “He found a…”
  • “She found a…”
  • “I have a…”
  • “He has a…”
  • “She has a…”
  • “I like to…”
  • “He likes to…”

Here are some examples of the sentences you can produce. 

  • “I see a SHAPE”
  • “I like FISH”
  • “She has a MILKSHAKE”


Short phrases for the /sh/ sound

Now that you’ve helped your child improve their articulation of the /sh/ sound and slotted it into some real-life sentences, you can move on to short phrases. 

We’ve created a list of the most common /sh/ sound words, organizing them according to where the sound appears, as before. Work through them together, have fun, and get plenty of practice! 

Short Phrases: Initial /sh/ (at the beginning of the word)Short Phrases: Medial /sh/ (in the middle of the word) Short Phrases: Final /sh/ (at the end of the word)
Shake handsClean dishes Hair brush
Smart chefBig machineColorful fish
Pink sheepBlue oceanNew paintbrush
Blue shirtBright sunshineBig splash
Shop for toysBanana milkshakeSmash glass
Sore shoulderWhite mushroomWet starfish
Shovel snowHand lotionPink toothbrush
Morning showerCreamy mashed potatoesSmelly trash
Shy girlTalented musicianCar crash
Sweet sugarSoft tissueTrimmed bushes 
Shot in armSoft cushionHandful of cash
Cruise shipLong eyelashesFlush the toilet
Sharp needleTrimmed bushes Dog leash
Pretty shellHeavy dictionaryPush hard
Clever chefFly fishing Green mouthwash
Sharp thornStrong flashlightBig mustache
Make shineDirty dishragBack rash

Short sentences for the /sh/ sound

Congratulations! You’ve already made huge leaps when it comes to your child’s pronunciation of the /sh/ sound. 

Let’s now move on to practicing longer sentences that can further improve articulation skills, boost fluency and confidence and help them communicate effectively. 

Short Sentences: Initial /sh/ Short Sentences: Medial /sh/Short sentences: Final /sh/
The chef made a tasty cakePut the dishes on the tableCan you give my car a push?
Be careful the thorn is sharpLook up the word in the dictionaryThe fish was red and yellow
The sheep is standing in the grassI want a strawberry milkshakeHe made a big splash in the water
I need to shop for toysI saw a mushroom in the forestShe bought a new toothbrush
She washes her hair in the showerThe ocean looks beautiful todayTake the trash out today
He is shy around new peopleCome outside and feel the sunshineThe doctor looked at her rash
Don’t put too much sugar in the lemonadeBlow your nose with a tissueGrab a paintbrush and create something special
The doctor needs to give you a shotPut your dirty clothes in the washer Flush the toilet every time
He wore his green shirtThe gardener kept the bushes trimmed He earned a lot of cash
The cruise ship is enormousShe put lotion on her hands She had to brush her messy hair 
It is nice to share our thingsThe machine stopped working It was a bad car crash
This shoe is uncomfortableHe loves eating mashed potatoesShe held onto the dog’s leash
He had a sore shoulderThat deer has long eyelashesSorry, I didn’t mean to smash the window
She shines her shoes before schoolThe flashlight was brokenMy clothes smell good after I wash them

Games & Activities with /sh/ Sound Words 

Who said learning had to be serious? Play these games and activities with your kids to make mastering the /sh/ sound fun and engaging. You’ll also build their confidence, nurture that parent-child bond and make home speech therapy fun. 

Here’s a pick of our favorite/sh/ sound games and activities.

Play the Shopping List game

Grab a piece of paper, write ‘shopping list’ at the top, and give it to your child. Then add them to list as many /sh/ words as they can. If they struggle, refer to the comprehensive /sh/ word list we shared above. For example, ‘shirt’, ‘shell’, ‘sugar’, ‘shortbread, ‘shoes’ and ‘shampoo’ could join your list.

Play ‘Go Fish!’

This popular game is an excellent way to practice those /sh/ words. Here’s how to play: 

  • Print two copies of the /sh/ word list that we shared above and then cut them into flashcards. Select just ten common words from these lists and shuffle them. 
  • Give five cards to each player then place the rest in the middle of the table, face-down.
  • The youngest player (most likely to be your child!) should ask you if you have a certain card, for example, ‘shoe’. 
  • If you do have this card, pass it to your child. If not, take a card from the pile in the middle and add it to those in your hand. 
  • Repeat the process, taking it in turns to ask about the cards.
  • When one player finds a pair, they place them face down on the table.
  • The winner is the person who runs out of cards. 

Play the Sea Shell Game

In this fun and affordable game, your child can build a nature object collection while practicing their /sh/ sounds. Here’s what to do. 

  • Buy a pack of seashells from your local craft store or collect your own if you’re lucky enough to live near a beach. 
  • Use a permanent marker to write a number between 5 and 10 on the back. 
  • Place the shells on a table and give your child the flashcards you used for ‘Go Fish!’
  • Ask your child to choose a flashcard then turn over a shell. The number indicates how many times your child needs to say the word. 
  • If they successfully pronounce the /sh/ sound, let them keep the shell. 

Read Books

Reading good books is a powerful way to boost your child’s language skills, ignite their imagination and enjoy that special time together. Look for books featuring the /sh/ in various positions in the world if possible for best results. 

Here’s our selection of the best /sh/ sound books. 

How to Pronounce the /sh/ Sound

When you pronounce the /sh/ sound, you won’t need to use your vocal cords. It’s produced by placing your tongue towards the back of your mouth and allowing the sides to gently touch your teeth. 

Then the air should pass from your lungs, and down the middle and sides tongue while you relax your vocal cords. 

If your tongue is in the wrong place or your mouth is open, you won’t be able to pronounce the sound correctly. Here is more specific guidance.

Pronouncing the /sh/ sound

Let’s take one of the words from the above /sh/ word list, for example, ‘fish’ or ‘shoe’. 

Say this word aloud several times and take note of what is happening in your mouth when you produce this sound, including your lips, teeth, tongue position, whether you use your vocal cords, and where the air flows. 

You should see that your tongue is in a neutral position with the sides gently touching your side teeth, your lips are slightly rounded and the air comes over the middle and sides of your tongue. 

If so, you are ready to explain to your child how to pronounce this tricky sound and help them gain the articulation skills they need for success. 

How to help your child produce the /sh/ sound correctly

Ready to teach your child how to articulate the /sh/ sound effectively? Here’s how to do it. 

1) Ask your child to relax their tongue then ‘squidge’ it sideways until it gently touches their back teeth. 

2) Then ask them to breathe out through their mouth while trying to say the sound /sh/ or the word ‘shop’. It can take some practice to get it right so be patient! Watch this video by Peachie Speechie for extra help if you need it. 

Using Forbrain to Upgrade Sound Practice

You can further enhance your child’s articulation of the /sh/ sound and build their confidence in just 10 minutes per day with the patented Forbrain headset. 

This pioneering device uses cutting-edge technology with innovative design features to stimulate the neural pathways that lead to life-long learning and language development, optimize learning, finely tune pronunciation, and build communication confidence. 

Your child will learn how to distinguish the /sh/ sound and improve their pronunciation through the enhanced auditory feedback loop while having fun. Find out more about Forbrain and the scientific research that underpins it all here


Final Words

The /sh/ sound (ʃ) that appears at the start of the words ‘shop’, ‘shoe’, and ‘chef’ can be tricky to pronounce. 

If your child is having problems, use the list of /sh/ words, phrases, sentences, and games to help them learn, improve and practice this sound. 

Used alongside the patented Forbrain headset for just 10 minutes per day, you’ll see that learning can be simple, effective, and fun! 

Charlotte Witts

Charlotte is a linguistics graduate, ESL teacher, and parent who is passionate about sharing her expertise in speech therapy, language acquisition, and second-language learning so everyone can reach their full potential.

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