Blends and Digraphs

What, you may wonder, is the difference between “blends” and “digraphs”?

Blends are certain combinations of two or more consonant letters that appear at the beginning or the end of words and together create specific sounds. In blends, you can hear the sound of each letter, but blended together.  Some examples of common blends are bl, cr, st, sm, thr, squ.

Digraphs are a combination of two letters that, when placed together, represent a new sound. Examples are ph, gh, ch, sh, ng, th, or wh. In digraphs, you don’t hear the sound of each letter as you do in blends.

If your child is having difficulty learning to read “blends” and “digraphs,” a fun activity is to get an old catalogue or a collection of flyers with common household items and groceries, that is okay to cut up. In a scrapbook, at the top of each page, write a blend or digraph you want your child to learn, and then have her go through the catalogue or flyers and clip out pictures of all kinds of different items she likes or knows the words for. You may want to discuss each picture before cutting, in order to decide whether the word contains a blend and/or digraph. If it does, your child can clip it out. If not, your child can just leave the picture or can still clip it out but put it in an ordinary alphabet scrapbook. Examples of blend and digraph pictures a child might clip are: telephone (ph), whale (wh), stuffy (st), squash (squ), blanket (bl), chair (ch), swing (ng), etc.

Then give the child a glue stick, and have her glue each picture on the correct page. You can start with items that have the blend or digraph at the beginning, and later, as the child becomes more familiar with the different blends/digraphs, include items that have those blends/digraphs in the middle or end of the word. The child can show her personal “blends and digraphs” book to visitors, and say the words on each page. You can label each picture, and highlight the digraph or blend in the word.

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