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So your child has almost mastered beginning sounds… time to level up to the next type of phonics! Blends and digraphs can be learned right after beginning sounds. And it’s okay if your kiddo is still shaky on a couple sounds before you start blends and digraphs! This is normal, and your child can keep practicing the tricky sounds while learning something that’s more of a challenge.
What are blends and digraphs?
“Di” means two. A digraph is when two consonants make just one sound. Think about the -ck at the end of the word “luck.” You wouldn’t read this out as “l-uh-cuh-kuh.” The two consonants of the -ck together just make a single “cuh” sound. “Ch” in cheese and “ph” in phone are also digraphs.
Blends also have two or more consonants that blend together into a specific sound… but this time you can hear both of the letter sounds in the blend. Think about “tr” in the word train. You wouldn’t say “tuh-ruh-ay-nuh.” The t and the r are blended together so that you can hear both still, but the combo still makes a different sound then when those letters are separately.
Teaching Blends and Digraphs
If your child has mastered the beginning sounds, learning the blends and digraphs won’t come naturally at first. (Why on Earth does a “ph” make an “f” sound?!) The best way to teach these sounds by explicitly explaining the new sound and pointing it out in as many words as you can as you read together. Don’t be surprised if these are trickier for your kiddo to learn than the beginning sounds were. Just think exposure, exposure, exposure. Teach blends and digraphs in a wide variety of ways… playing games, noticing words in books together, looking at a chart of the sounds and reviewing them once per day. And whatever else you can think of!
Blends & Digraphs Bingo
- 24 unique bingo game boards
- 78 vocabulary cards, 3 for each blend and digraph
Blends and digraphs included:
Ch, sh, kn, th, ph, wh, qu, qe, bl, br, cl, cr, dr, fl, gl, gr, sk, sl, sn, tr, pl, pr, sm, sp, st, and ck.
How to Play Blends & Digraphs Bingo
1. Print the game boards and laminate them for durability.
2. Print the word cards, laminate them, and cut them into individual squares.
3. I like to print games like this that will be used again and again on cardstock so that they’re even stronger and have the thickness of a playing card from a real game.
4. Pass out the game boards. They’re all different, so you can have the whole family play!
5. Put the word cards in a pile, draw a card, and have your child figure out what the blend or digraph is (for multiple children, they can take turns or work together). Once they figure it out, everyone with that blend or digraph on their game board can mark it off! We use plastic counters to mark off the letters so that I don’t have to reprint/relaminate after each use.
6. There are 78 total vocabulary cards, 3 for each blend and digraph. Some of the words actually contain BOTH a blend and a digraph (truck, clock, and blocks) and can be used for either space!
For more ideas on teaching beginning sounds, check out this article and our Beginning Sounds Bingo game.
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