Parenting 101

Easy Ways to Teach Consonant Blends, Digraphs and Trigraphs

Easy Ways to Teach Consonant Blends, Digraphs and Trigraphs

“I wish I had a magic key that could unlock the door to fluent reading and spelling skills!”

Many students and parents often wonder about the best way to improve reading fluency and spelling. Is it possible to become a spelling and reading wizard in English if learned in the right way?

In this blog, I am going to share a secret and easy method to achieve just that!

“What exactly is reading with phonics? And how it helps children to become fluent readers?”

I hear these questions often from parents. Well, first of all reading is nothing but recognizing words, understanding their meanings, and making sense of the text as a whole. And Phonics is a method of teaching reading and spelling that tells the relationship between sounds and the letters that represent them. 

By understanding phonics, readers can sound out unfamiliar words, recognize familiar words more quickly, and improve their overall reading comprehension. Phonics also helps readers develop spelling skills by understanding how words are formed and spelled based on their sounds. 

There are several ways to improve reading using phonics, but three key parameters to focus on are consonant blends, digraphs, and trigraphs.

Let’s dive into the world of reading secrets: Blends and Digraphs!

What are blends and digraphs?

Blends and digraphs are two types of letter combinations in English that are important for reading and spelling. In a blend, each letter makes its own sound. You blend the two sounds together. In a digraph, the two letters come together to make one sound. Blends and digraphs help children to decode and spell words more accurately.

Read more: Teaching your kids how to read with Digraphs and Diphthongs

When to teach the  blends and digraphs?

Once a child has learned to read three-letter CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words fluently, it is a good time to introduce the blends. This helps expand their reading skills and vocabulary, as blends are commonly found in many words.

Before introducing blends to your kids, make sure that they know the sounds that letters make individually. This will help them understand how blends work and make blending sounds in words easier for them.

Once the kids are comfortable reading three and four-letter words (including blends), they are usually ready to dive into digraphs and the next step would be to introduce the trigraphs.

What are consonant blends?

Consonant blends are when two or three consonants appear together in a word, but each sound is still heard. As in the words ‘spoon'  ‘play’ or 'tree' where sounds ‘s’ and ‘p’ in the word 'spoon' or sounds ‘p’ and ‘l’ in the word ‘play’ or sounds ‘t’ and ‘r’ in the word ‘tree’ can be heard separately.

Consonant blends are like BUILDING BLOCKS for words. Once you master consonant blends, you will find it easier to tackle more complex words and improve your overall reading and language skills.

Why are consonant blends important to learn?

Consonant blends are important because they help us pronounce words correctly. They also make our speech sound smoother and more fluent. For example, in the word ‘splash,’ the ‘spl’ blend helps us say the word smoothly without pausing between the ‘s’ and ‘p’ sounds. 

So, without consonant blends, our speech would sound choppy. They help us recognize and spell words more easily.

Consonant blends are also important because they appear in many words in the English language. By learning consonant blends, you’ll be able to read and understand a wider range of words. For example, words like ‘blend,’ ‘grasp,’ and ‘strap’ all contain consonant blends.

I am sharing a line-up of consonant blends.

So let’s get ready to dive into the Blend Bonanza!

Beginning blends with two consonants

L - blends

R - blends

S - blends

bl - black

br - brick

sc - scan

cl - clay

cr - crab

sk - sky

fl - flip

dr - drum

sl - slip

gl – glow

fr - fry

sm - smile

pl - play

gr - green

sn - snail

sl - sleep

pr - proof

sp - spoon

 

tr - trick

st - star

   

sw - sweet

Beginning blends with three consonants

scr - screw

shr – shrub

spl - splash

spr - sprout

str - stream

thr – throat

Blends at the end of the words

nd - pond

st - nest

ld - gold

nt - tent

sk - mask

lk - milk

nk - pink

ft - gift

lf - elf

mp - jump

lt - melt  

Knowing about consonant blends is like having a secret code to unlock spelling! It helps students put together sounds to form words. The more they know about blends, the easier it becomes to spell and read.

What are Digraphs and Trigraphs?

Digraph is a Greek word that actually describes two letters that come together. The first two letters “di” means two, and “graph” means written. 

Digraphs are combination of two letters that make one sound (phoneme), such as ‘sh’ in the word ‘shell’ or ‘ch’ in the word ‘chop.’

“Tri” is a prefix that means “three,” so a trigraph is a single sound that is represented by three letters. In easy words, trigraphs are three letters that make one sound, such as ‘tch’ in the word ‘latch’ or ‘dge’ in the word 'judge'

Why are Digraphs and Trigraphs important to learn?

Learning digraphs and trigraphs helps us understand how letters work together to make different sounds.

Let me share a short story that I always tell my students about Digraphs.

Once upon a time, in a land of words, there were two letters named ‘t’ and ‘h’ who were best friends. They loved to stick together. One stormy night, they decided to give a name to their team as “t and h”, but it didn’t sound good. Suddenly, they heard a loud thunder, and both got scared and started chattering “th.. th.. thunder.” 

“Surprisingly, it’s a nice name!”, said both, and since then, ‘t’ and ‘h’ together made a special sound ‘th’ as in the words ‘thumb’ or 'think'

Digraphs are important because they show us how letters can work together to make different sounds in words. They help us read and spell words more easily by showing us these special letter combinations.

There are different types of digraphs such as –
  • Silent letter digraphs
  • Vowel digraphs
  • R – controlled digraphs
  • W – controlled digraphs
  • L – controlled digraphs 

Trigraphs are also important because they help us understand the different sounds that three letters can make when they are together.

Here is the line up for most commonly used Digraphs

Ch

Sh Ph Th Wh

Ck

Chart

Ship Photo Thick Whale

Back

Chest

Shark Photo Thumb White

Sock

Munch

Cash Graph Teeth Wheat

Kick

Some of the common trigraphs in English are :

Tch

Dge Igh Ear

Air

Catch

Lodge High Hear 

Chair

Witch

Edge Sigh Fear

Pair

Fetch

Badge Night Near

Fair

Easy ways to teach consonant blends, digraphs and trigraphs

Introducing blends at this stage can also help improve their fluency and confidence in reading.

Read more: English Vocabulary Building Tips and Strategies for kids

Teaching consonant blends, digraphs and trigraphs can be fun and engaging by the following ways :

1. Blend challenge :

My favourite and simple way to teach consonant blends to my students is by playing a blend challenge. In this activity, I would say a blend and a child has to guess the blend and think of a word that contains that blend.

2. Word Building :

Sometimes I also try word-building activity where I show kids a picture of an object, and they have to spell the word using letter tiles or cards. This helps them to understand how blends or digraphs and trigraphs are used in words.

3. Read aloud :

Another simple way to learn consonant blends as well as the digraphs is to read books or stories with words containing them. In one of my class, I did a reading activity where children will read a short passage containing words with a mix of blends, digraphs and trigraphs. 

As they read, I ask them to point out the blends and encourage to identify the digraphs they came across. 

This helped them practice recognizing blends in context.

4. Online games :

One of the engaging games I play with my students is dragging the correct blend to match the picture shown, or clicking on the picture that contains the shown blend.

Another amazing game is to fill the missing digraphs from the given set.

Believe me, learning through games like these is as thrilling as a roller coaster ride! Kids get excited and happily engage in the learning process.

5. Songs and rhymes :

Apart from games, I think playing songs or rhymes that include words with blends and digraphs can be effective, as learning with music and rhythm can make it easier for children to grasp and remember.

6. Fun learning videos :

We can also show some educational videos to the kids that are both fun and informative. It would help teach kids about blends and trigraphs in an engaging way.

7. Seeing is learning :

One of the best and simplest ways to learn consonant blends is to make a Blends and digraphs Chart. Kids can easily learn  digraphs and trigraphs by glancing at the chart as they pass by. 

8. Learning with story :

Have you ever shared a trigraph tale with your kids? If not, give it a try this time and watch the magic unfold.

Storytelling is a great way to teach trigraphs in a fun and engaging way. For example, tell a story that contain the “tch” trigraph words like “catch,” “watch,” and “fetch” . After reading the story, just point out these words to the child and discuss how the “tch” trigraph makes the “ch” sound.

9. Fun with Blend Blender activity :

One of the simplest and most engaging ways to teach blends is by using a picture of a blender and adding a blender sound effect. During my sessions, I let my students choose the blend letters (such as l-blends, r-blends, or s-blends) that need to be blended. Then, I ask them to drag and drop the letters in the blender and click the button when they are done. With the blender sound effect, kids can hear the combination of sounds, and they enjoy the activity while learning the blends.

Read more: 6 kinds of adjectives that a Class 7 kid must know ! (with Examples)

In summary, understanding the parameters such as blends, digraphs and trigraphs is super important for young learners as they navigate the world of reading and spelling. By incorporating creative and interactive methods like exciting games, interesting videos, songs and rhymes and storytelling, educators can make learning these concepts enjoyable and memorable. These skills not only improve reading fluency and accuracy but also lay the groundwork for more advanced language skills in the future.

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Article Author

Author image
Ashita Gunjikar

Ashita Gunjikar is an M.Tech graduate, a dynamic educator with over 8 years of teaching experience. She is passionate about writing and content creation.She has received awards like 'Best Mentor' , 'Wow Teacher' and 'Educator of the month' for her great work in education. She has a unique way of making even the most complex topics easy to understand. Her ability to bring fun and excitement to each session is remarkable.

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