Phonics teaches children to identify relationships between letters and sounds which aids in indentifying words. When teaching phonics a methodical and explicit approach works best. Begin with the simple relationships – ones a child can easily understand and gradually move along the continuum to the more complex relationships.
The previous post, Sequence of Phonics Instruction – Part I, addressed consonants, short vowels and word families, specifically VC and CVC. This post will discuss digraphs, blends and related word families. It is important to begin with Part I before advancing to two or more consonant sounds and the patterns that involve both blends and digraphs, e.g., CVCC, CCVC and CCVCC.
Initial Consonant Blends
Introduce initial consonant blends (two or more consonant sounds at the beginning of a word in which each letter retains its own sound).
Letters Example Letters Example pr fr frog tr truck st star gr grape sp spill br bread sk skin cr crab sc score dr drive sw swing sm small fl flag sn snack sl sleep pl plan gl glad cl clap tw twenty bl blow dw dwell spr spring str straw scr scream shr shrink spl splash thr throw
The above initial blends belong to one of five families:
- L family – e.g., cl as in clam or gl as in glue
- R family – e.g., br as in Brad or fr as in fry
- S family – e.g., sn as in snail or st as in step
- 3-letter family, -e.g., str as in street or thr as in three
- No family – e.g, dw as in dwell or tw as in twin
Consider beginning with the L family followed by the R family.
Final Consonant Blends
Introduce final consonant blends (two or more consonant sounds at the end of a word in which each letter retains its own sound). Using rhymes to teach ending consonant blends facilitates making a connection between letters and sounds.
Letters Examples ct
act, fact & pact
left, theft, gift, lift, drift & shift
old, told, hold, sold, held & weld
elf & shelf
milk, silk, bulk, sulk & hulk
calm, palm & balm
help, yelp, kelp & gulp
halt, salt, felt, melt & belt
camp, champ, stamp, dump & jump
ranch, branch, bench, drench, inch & pinch
band, hand, land, send, bend & blend
ink, stink, stank, stunk, trunk, bank & sank
bent, sent, hint, mint, print, hunt & bunt
kept, swept, slept & wept
card, hard, guard, yard, cord, afford & Lord
art, cart, mart, part, chart, smart, start, dirt, shirt & skirt
ask, mask, task, dusk & husk
gasp, clasp, grasp, lisp, crisp & wisp
fast, last, list fist, best, guest, chest, must & trust
Introduce the combination of two letters that represent one sound (digraph).
Letters Example ch chimp sh ship th thin and these wh whale ph phone gh tough ng sing
Consider introducing the following digraphs first: ch, sh, th and wh.
Consonant-Consonant-Vowel-Consonant (CCVC), Consonant-Vowel-Consonant-Consonant (CVCC) and Consonant-Consonant-Vowel-Consonant-Consonant (CCVCC)
Now that’s a mouth full of gibberish! Practice both digraphs and blends using CCVC, CVCC and CCVCC words. Using the words noted below, create word cards. Write each word on a card and perform the following:
- Tell your child to sound out each letter-sound relationship and then read the word fast.
- Show your child a card and model your expectations – sound out the word very slowly and then read the word quickly. For example, using the word clap, say slowly ccllllaaapp and then quickly say clap. Of course, you must end by clapping since you successful said the word!
- If your child mispronounces a word, have her slowly sound out the word using her finger to point to each sound and then move her finger quickly as she says the word fast. Offer assistance when deemed necessary, e.g. if your child is struggling with a word, pronounce it for him. As always keep it fun and practice applying a good dose of patience!
CCVC CVCC CCVCC blob belt black chop card brick clap fact check crab fish front drum gift glass flag hand graph plum hold skip jump scarf snap kelp shelf spin last skunk stop mask slept swim milk smart them palm snack twin sing think whip wasp trunk
I always like to keep it fun when learning to read. So let’s review what your child has learned with a fun game! Using paper or index cards create two piles of cards.
- The first pile will contain the onsets (the initial sounds of a word):
- Single letters: t & l
- Blends: cl & sl
- Digraph: sh
- VC: -ot & -ip
- VCC: -ack, ick & uck
On a separate card write the five onsets and rimes. If possible use colored paper; write the onsets on one color and the rimes on another. You should have a total of ten cards.
- Review each card with your child.
- Place the two sets face down.
- Select one card from each pile and read the word. For example, if you selected sh from the onset pile and ip from the rime pile, you would say, “ship.”
- Ask them if they can name other words that rhyme with ship, e.g., hip, lip, chip & skip.
Please note shick and sluck are not words but may be formed in this game. If your child says these words, ask them if this is a real word. If you want a good laugh, make up a definition for these made-up words.