Consonant Digraphs

I am passionate about the teaching of phonics and have dedicated much time over the last ten or eleven years to understanding more fully how to teach it, and also developing a huge range of resources to make the teaching of phonics both exciting and systematic.

I am busily working on pdf files of a range of my favourite resources to teach phonics, they are so comprehensive that they are taking a while to put together. I hope to make them available soon.

I love using the Jolly Phonics program to begin with in Kindergarten and then incorporating a range of ther resources and programs I have written myself.

Consonant digraphs are pairs of letters that represent a single speech sound (where both are consonants) - sh, th, ch, wh, ph and gh.

I usually focus on these after I am confident my students are reading and writing cvc words and also consonant blends. The Jolly Phonics program does introduce sh, ch and th quite early, and I have found my kinders can quite easily handle them.

Students need to be able to identify consonant digraphs in words. They need to be able to see the word from an 'aerial' perspective, not just a strictly left to right direction. That means they need to be able to "see" the chunk (graphophonic pattern) that represents the sound.

That is fantastic news! It means we can spend some time doing creative and motivating activities in the classroom that help your students to "see" the chunk as a separate sound.

One of the most simple, yet most effective is to write a series of words on the board or on chart paper and circle the chunks in the word that represent a sound, e.g. circle the sh in fish, wish, shed, shin and ship. You could also write these words using two different colours and use the same colour for all of the sh sounds.

The other good news is that there is a myriad of resources for teaching and learning phonics, particularly on the TpT website. Here is one I have just listed, called Catchin' Fish. It helps to teach the ch and sh digraphs that occur at the end of words.

While you are using this resource in the classroom, why not read some books about fish? Wish for a Fish by Dr Seuss is one that is always enjoyed, or a modern classic like the Rainbow Fish. See how many times the students can hear the sh sound when you read the book. Write them down on a list, and then circle the sh sounds in the words - so they come at the beginning, the middle or at the end of the words?

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