Many teachers ask which should they teach first, blends or digraphs? Some reading programs do not even teach blends as they are really two separate sounds. Personally, Operation EDU believes teaching blends is a good idea as they are letters that frequently occur together so students are learning to recognize patterns in words. Many reading programs introduce blends before the digraphs. We suggest following the sequence presented in your reading series and supplementing where you see fit.
One essential idea to understand is that in a consonant digraph, two consonants stand together to represent a single sound. the most common consonant digraphs are: sh, ch, th, and wh. There are other consonant digraphs (ph); however, most teachers typically introduce these 4 digraphs first as they are the most common. They are often referred to as the “h brothers”. Teaching digraphs can be lots of fun. Operation EDU’s Digraph & Blends Game Pack is a great introduction to this concept because of our engaging games and activities, as well as great visuals which are especially helpful for our struggling readers.
This activity-packed resource contains 28 pages of engaging digraph & blends games that can be a great addition to your daily classroom language instruction. Games such as I Spy Sight Words, Bottle Cap Spelling, and Word-Wac-Woe are perfect for a center-based or Daily 5 classroom as students can work independently on sharpening their phonics skills.
For all learners, but especially for struggling readers, systematic and explicit phonics instruction is critical. “Systematic phonics instruction” refers to the sequence of phonics skills introduced. In a phonics program, there must be a logical order of introduction of skills. “Explicit phonics instruction” refers to how the skills are taught. Students need instruction where the teacher is providing precise directions for teaching the skills. Struggling readers require additional guided practice in small groups and instruction must be differentiated to meet individual needs.