Introduce words with initial blends only of 4 sounds. When students are ready, introduce final blends still with only 4 sounds before finally tackling words with initial and final blends and three letter blends at the beginning. Eventually students should be able to read and write syllables of 5 and 6 sounds.
Blending can refer to a student's ability to merge three sounds together and come up with a word (no alphabet letters involved). Example: You say /h/ /a/ /t/, and a child says “hat.” Blending can also refer to a student's ability to say each sound in a written word and blend the sounds together.
Learn More With These Definitions and Examples
A word blend is formed by combining two separate words with different meanings to form a new one. These words are often created to describe a new invention or phenomenon that combines the definitions or traits of two existing things.
How We Teach Blends & Digraphs
- 1 - Write the letters while saying the letter names and then providing the sound those letters make. ...
- 2 - Practice blending the sounds together that are provided orally. ...
- 3 - Build familiar words with those letter patterns.
An ending blend consists of two adjoining consonants at the end of a word that each make their own sound. So, for example, ck would NOT be an ending blend since it makes a single sound: /k/. Rather, it would be an ending digraph – since a digraph consists of two letters that make ONE sound.
One idea for practicing blends is to use decodable readers. This provides tons of practice with a specific skill. I have decodable readers available for teaching blends in Kindergarten, 1st Grade, and 2nd grade.
A digraph contains two consonants and only makes one sound such as sh, /sh/. (ch, wh, th, ck) A blend contains two consonants but they each make their own sound, such as /s/ and /l/, /sl/ (st, fl, sk, gr, sw, ect.)
When teaching blends, most teachers introduced them in groups. For example, a teacher may choose to introduce the l-blends first (bl, cl, fl, gl, pl and sl) followed by the r-blends. When introducing the concept of blends and digraphs, cue cards often help. Here's one I made with many of the consonant blends.
Blends are found either at the beginning or end of a word. For example, in the word “break”, the “b” and “r” sounds are pronounced. This constitutes as an initial consonant blend. The cluster “-nk” in “bank” would be a final consonant blend.
Put letter tiles in a bag. Students take turns pulling one tile out at a time, putting them in their own pile, until someone can come up with a consonant blend using the tiles they've collected. Once they say the consonant blend, they say as many words using that blend that they can think of in ten seconds.
What order should blends and digraphs be taught? While you should find the best method for YOUR students, it is recommended that blends come prior to digraphs. When learning about consonant blends, students are also learning to recognize patterns in words.
A digraph is a single sound, or phoneme, that is represented by two letters. A trigraph is a phoneme that consists of three letters. Consonant digraphs include ch, ck, gh, kn, mb, ng, ph, sh, th, wh, and wr. Some of these create a new sound, as in ch, sh, and th.
Initial and Final Consonant Blend
A group of letters, usually two or three that make their own sound at the end of the word is termed as a final consonant blend. Examples of the final consonant blend are mask, lamp, sand, cold, golf, tent, bird and park.
Part of those 44 sounds include the "blends." Blends are 2 or 3 consonants combined to form a distinct sound such as: bl cl, fl, gl, pl, br, cr, dr, fr, gr, pr, tr, sk, sl, sp, st, sw, spr, cr, str. These common words with blends are good to review and print for young learners.
Phonics blending is a way for students to decode words. With phonics blending, students fluently join together the individual sound-spellings (also called letter-sound correspondence) in a word. With a word like jam, students start by sounding out each individual sound-spelling (/j/, /ă/, /m/).
Final Consonant Digraphs - 'ck'
Phoneme grapheme mapping and segmenting are two of the best activities for teaching digraphs and blends. By sounding out the word and associating each sound with a grapheme, students more easily read and spell consonant digraphs and blends. See below for an example of this activity using my Word Mapping Template.
Decoding and encoding consonant blends is among the most important concepts you teach your beginning readers. This is a skill they will use across multiple syllable types, in both single syllable and multi-syllabic words and even in reading and writing Latin roots and Greek combining forms.
When Do You Teach Digraphs? Digraphs are normally introduced to children after they have a firm grasp on the single sounds of consonants and short vowels. Digraphs are reviewed throughout first and second grade.
For most children, they are ready to do it somewhere between the age of 4 to 5. Some children may be 6 or even older. Children with special needs may be significantly older than this, or never really learn the skill.