Learning to read phonetically means learning how different letters work together to make sounds. Two ways letters work together inside words are diagraphs and blends. A diagraph is a pair of letters that make one sound, but a blend is a pair or group of letters that work together using each of their individual sounds separately.

Tip

A diagraph is a pair of letters that make one sound, but a blend is a pair or group of letters that work together using each of their individual sounds.

Children learning to read will benefit from seeing diagraphs and blends and practicing their sounds apart from the words that use them. Creating a list of blends and diagraphs and displaying it as a visually appealing anchor chart will help students as they learn the concepts. Practicing consonant blends activities or making games involving diagraphs will also aid in student development and comprehension.

What Is a Diagraph?

In a consonant diagraph, two consonants join forces to create a single sound. (While the letters together form a diagraph, the sound itself is called a diphthong.)

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List of Diagraphs

th as in thumb

wh as in where

ch as in cheese

ck as in clock

sh as in shark

ph as in phony

What Are Blends?

In a consonant blend, a pair or group of letters join forces, but each still retains its individual sound.

List of Blends

This list of blends is obviously incomplete. There are so many blends in the English language, that they could not all fit on one anchor chart. Student’s should not have to memorize all of them, but getting to know a few will be helpful for reading fluency.

bl as in blab

br as in brace

sm as in small

tr as in tram

sk as in skirt

tw as in twang

Consonant Blends Activities

One of the best consonant blends activities is Consonant Blend Bingo or Phonics Bingo. With Phonics Bingo, students will learn how to identify groups of letters and have fun at the same time.

Phonics Bingo Lesson Plan

Materials:

Bingo Cards

Bingo Chips

Phonics Flashcards

Instructions:

  1. Give each student a bingo card that is filled out with consonant blends. There should be one blend in each box.
  2. Explain the game. Tell students that when you draw a card, they should place a bingo chip on their bingo card over the consonant blend shown on your card. Tell them that in this version of bingo, to win, you have to cover your whole bingo card with chips.
  3. Shuffle your phonics flashcards. Now, draw a card, read the word, and show it to the class. Students will place a bingo chip on the appropriate square that contains the consonant blend shown on the card.
  4. Repeat step two until one student shouts bingo.

About the Author

Rebecca Renner is a teacher and freelance writer from Daytona Beach, Florida. Her byline has appeared in the Washington Post, New York Magazine, Glamour and elsewhere.