Digraphs Vs. Blends: Tips For Teaching Students The Difference

Let’s talk about digraphs and blends! These can be pretty tricky for new readers. The difference between the two is subtle and could easily confuse them. So how do we teach them in a way that is effective and easy to remember for little learners?

Let’s start with the basics! Here are some common questions teachers have about digraphs and blends. 

1. “What is the difference between blends and digraphs?”

A BLEND is when each sound of two or more consonants can be heard as they are blended together. For example, /pl/ as in play. You say (and teach) /pl/ but the /p/ and /l/ can be heard as separate phonemes. Each letter within the blend is pronounced individually, but quickly, so they blend together.

A DIGRAPH is when two consonants together make a single sound. For example, if you tell someone to be quiet by saying “shhhhhh”, you say it as one sound. You don’t say /s/ /h/.

2. What are the most common blends and what order should I teach them?

BLENDS

The most common beginning consonant blends include: bl, br, cl, cr, dr, fr, tr, fl, gl, gr, pl, pr, sl, sm, sp and st.

Click to download a FREE Beginning Blends Poster

There is a great deal of variance as to which blends to teach first. Even many basal reading programs disagree. Yet, it is thought that the following is a good guideline of which to teach first: gr, pl, bl, st, br, sp, tr, cl, fl, sl, fr, sn, thr, cr, dr, sm. HOWEVER, this differs with the level of students you teach and the most important thing to remember is to teach intentionally!

There are also ending consonant blends in words such as fast.

digraphs vs blends pin image

Click to download a FREE poster for Ending Blends Poster

Some blends contain three consonants (clusters) such as str,spl, spr, shr, scr, squ, str. It is thought that these clusters along with nk and sk should be taught later rather than at the beginning.

3. What are the most common digraphs and what order should I teach them?

DIGRAPHS

We like to call the most common consonant digraphs the “h” brothers. The most common are sh, ch, th, and wh but there also is ph. The most common to teach first are the “Big 4”! Many reading programs introduce blends before the digraphs. 

The main thing to remember is you need to teach whatever your district says! This goes for blends (clusters) AND digraphs.

Click to download a FREE Digraph Poster. 

4. What is the correct spelling and pronunciation of DIGRAPH? 

It is spelled d-i- g-r-a-p-h and pronounced dī- graf. There is no “a” as in d-i-a-g-r-a-p-h. It is not pronounced dī-uh-graf.

In conclusion, learning digraphs and blends are important in learning to read. Go by your district, your campus, or your reading program to guide you with when and how to introduce them. We all have our opinions but we must go by the guidelines our employers give us.

Click HERE for a FREE digraph resource with activities and worksheets aimed at 1st-2nd graders and upper Kindergarten students.

If you like these digraph freebies, you’ll love the bundle! 

It’s a 329-page bundle for the digraphs ck, kn, ph, wr, sh, ch, wh, th with activities, center activities, and worksheets. The bundle is more than 20% off with a FREE assessment pack. The assessment pack is only available as part of the bundle deal. I don’t think you will need anything else for the entire year to teach digraphs. 

digraphs activity

It has everything, from small group work to games to centers. Games make great small group activities and give you the chance to do formative assessments as you monitor and guide the children during the game!

digraphs activity

Find the hidden word pages make great centers.  Before laminating the picture, cut off the bottom  recording sheet.  You can copy two recording sheets per 8.5×11 sheet of paper to put at the center with the laminated picture and a few magnifying glasses.  Kids LOVE using the magnifying glasses to play “word detectives.”

digraphs

This huge bundle of resources was created in collaboration with  Teacher’s Toolkit, The Fun Factory, and Practice Makes Perfect.  We put our over 80 years (gasp) of combined experience together to come up with activities that will engage, excite, and challenge your students.  

Do you have any tricks for teaching digraphs? Let me know in the comments!

digraphs

The Importance Of Reading To Follow Directions

In first and second grade, students are starting to get the hang of reading. We spend so much time focusing on reading-level books and reading comprehension. It is so important! 

reading to follow directions

However, another important part of learning to read is reading to follow directions! 

As first or second grade teachers, we may be surprised to find that students didn’t follow directions. They continue to ask questions about how to do things even though the instructions have been explained and listed. 

Reading to follow directions is a skill that students need to learn. They don’t just naturally understand it when they learn to read. Their whole lives so far, they have learned what to do by being told or shown. This is a new way of communicating so it is important to focus on this in the earlier grades so they are able to use this skill in day-to-day life.

reading to follow directions

Here are some ways you can teach your students how to read to follow directions.

 

  1. Always list directions on the board. This may seem obvious, but it’s important so it is worth mentioning. Use big letters and a numbered list to help them understand the format. 
  2. Go over commonly used words in directions that they may not know. Something that can trip them up big time with reading to follow directions is words they don’t know or are struggling to sound out. Looking at instructions full of words they don’t understand can be overwhelming and discouraging for them. Going over those words ahead of time will boost their confidence. 
  3. Use worksheets that have instructions listed on them. Tell students that the instructions are on the worksheets so they can read it to find out how to complete it. 
  4. Make it fun with games! Create centers that focus on reading directions. In each center, include the instructions for a simple game that students have to read in order to play. You can also pair students up, and have them race to read their instructions to complete a task first. There are so many possibilities! 

Reading to follow directions is a skill that students will need for their whole lives. College assignments, job applications, instruction manuals, the list goes on! Practicing and perfecting this skill early on is vital and will set them up for success later on. 

Another great way to practice this skill is with this Reading To Follow Directions resource! 

reading to follow directions

This bundle comes with activities for every month of the year that will have your students perfecting their reading to follow directions skills.

Students demonstrate reading comprehension by simply reading sentences and coloring a picture to follow the directions.

They can read the sheet using many sight words and then follow the directions to color pictures. It’s fun and creative!

Try out some free activities with my FREE 120 Day of School Read To Follow Directions resource. 

You can also try out my Veterans Day Read and Follow Directions resource here! 

 

 

reading to follow directions

Looking for more back to school resources and tips? Check out my post here!