When students are working on beginning digraphs and blends, any activity that encourages them to identify, sound out, sort, build, and write these sounds will be valuable practice. This includes games and centers like this hands-on smoothie center!
Kids can also practice identifying and spelling digraphs with this printable digraphs and blends chart. This can be used in small group or whole-group instruction.
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Word Level Practice
After students have mastered letter sounds and CVC words, they are ready to start learning about blends and digraphs. These tricky phonics skills are not the same as individual sounds, and there is a different process that students go through when practicing these skills. In this blog post, I will share helpful tips and engaging resources for teaching blends and digraphs to kindergarten students.
Explicit and systematic instruction is important when introducing new blends and digraphs to students. It is also important to provide ample practice and repetition for these phonics skills so that they are well mastered before moving on. To help with this, I have created a variety of different activities that can be used to practice these phonics skills. Some of these include:
To start, it is important to have an organized way to keep track of the different blends and digraphs that your students are working on. This can be done with a consonant blends and digraphs chart. This chart is a great tool for whole class or small group instruction, and it can also be used as a review at home.
Another helpful resource is a consonant blends and digraphs word work binder. This binder has a page for each of the different consonant blends and digraphs that are taught in kindergarten, as well as a page that allows students to practice their blending skills with connected text. This binder is perfect for small group instruction or independent work at a literacy center.
Lastly, there are several different games that can be played to practice blends and digraphs with students. These games can be played individually, with partners, or in small groups. Some of these games include:
Once students are confident with their blending and mapping skills, it is time to move on to reading blends and digraphs within sentences! I have created a set of printable mini books that allow students to practice their blending and mapping skills by filling in the missing words. These books are a great tool for whole class or small groups, and they can also be used as a review at a literacy center or for remote learning assignments.
Learning to read the phonics patterns for consonant blends and digraphs can be challenging for young children. These new sounds require a lot of mental energy and effort to sound out as students try to decode them. This can cause young students to be hesitant and reluctant when reading, which can then impact their oral reading fluency. Reading fluency is a critical component of reading comprehension, so building this skill is essential for student success.
Reading fluency is a child’s ability to read words quickly, smoothly and with correct pronunciation. Children who read fluently can skip over the task of decoding words and instead focus their attention on understanding what they are reading. They can also read much faster than a non-fluent reader, and they can often understand more complicated text.
It is important for young readers to develop their oral reading fluency skills early on, especially as they begin learning phonics and blending and digraph formations. Practicing these skills with short passages that are modeled in class and then taking them home to practice over and over again is the most effective way for children to improve their fluency. These reading fluency passages can be used for small group reading instruction, independent work, center time or even sent home to be practiced for homework.
These passages include a variety of topics and text types to give students lots of opportunities to practice their reading. Many of these passages include a focus word or phonics pattern that is repeated throughout the story. These passages are great for practicing early phonics and decoding skills, as well as sight word recognition. They are also a great way to build confidence for struggling readers because they are low-prep and easy to use.
A quick and easy way to measure a child’s oral reading fluency is to have them read one of these fluency passages, then select the spot that they stopped at in the selection. Next, count the number of words that were read correctly within one minute and subtract any problem words to determine their reading fluency rate (WPM). Then, divide this reading fluency rate by the total number of words in the passage to determine their accuracy percentage.
Once students are fluent with single letter sounds and CVC words, it’s time to start introducing blends and digraphs. These two phonics skills are similar in that they require students to recognize and build them within words and sentences. However, there is a progression to how they should be taught, and I’m going to share some helpful strategies and engaging resources for teaching them.
A BLEND is when two or more consonants come together but the sound for each individual consonant can still be heard. For example, /pl/ in play or /ch/ in chair. A DIGRAPH is when two letters come together but the sounds change and become one sound, such as /sh/ in shape or /thr/ in train.
The order that you teach blends and digraphs will depend on your students’ needs. For example, some schools may introduce R-Blends first, while others may begin with S-Blends. However, no matter what you choose, it is important to allow students plenty of time to practice with the new sounds before moving on to other groups of blends and digraphs.
One of the best ways to help your students master these tricky word combinations is with a digraph and blend chart. This printable resource helps students keep track of their spelling patterns while they’re reading and writing. It’s easy for them to tuck into their writing folder or book box, and they can use it when they need to refer back to the rules.
Another way to help your students read and write words with blends and digraphs is by giving them these printable mini books. These worksheets give students an opportunity to read and build these tricky word combinations in context of sentences, rather than just single letters. They also feature pictures, which make it easy for students to confirm their reading and understanding of the content. They can complete these activities independently or with a partner, and they’re perfect for kindergarten students.
After students have mastered letter sounds and CVC words, blends and digraphs can be a bit tricky to master. While they appear similar, consonant blends and digraphs are two different phonics skills that must be taught separately.
Blends and digraphs are a group of letters that combine to form a single sound, much like the “pl” in plum. They can be difficult for young learners to identify and decode because they don’t sound like individual letters. For example, the /fl/ in flour sounds very different from the /st/ in fast. This confusion makes it important to differentiate between blends and digraphs and provide a clear explanation of how each works.
To get a better understanding of the difference between digraphs and blends, it’s helpful to look at the alphabet and how the letters in the English language are represented. As you scroll through, notice that each letter represents a specific sound. The letters ch, sh, spl, and th are examples of consonant blends. In contrast, the letters p, t, and w are examples of digraphs.
While both groups of letters share one sound, the differences between them are significant. It’s recommended that teachers begin with teaching consonant blends, and then introduce digraphs once students have a solid grasp of the concept.
As students become more fluent with these phonics skills, they’ll be ready to tackle word chunks. Focusing on word chunks will help students to read more quickly because they won’t need to decode each individual phoneme.
To give your students plenty of practice with the different combinations of letters, try adding this Blends & Digraphs Chart to your literacy centers rotation. This fun chart helps students keep their new sounds straight, and it’s available in both print and digital format! After downloading the free chart, hop over to snag these Editable Blend & Digraph Word Games for more phonics fun! Also, be sure to pin this post so that you can find it later when you need some extra blending and digraph practice with your students. Happy reading!