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How to Teach Digraphs: 8 Ways to Make it Fun!

I love cheese and I love salsa both on their own. Yum, yum, yum.  BUT… when you put them together and make queso, it’s a match made in heaven! The cheese and the salsa come together to make something even better together than they are on their own!

That reminds me of digraphs! You take two things, put them together, and they make something completely new and different! Let’s get into how to teach digraphs.

What is a digraph?

Digraphs are two letters that come together to make one new sound. That one sound is different from either of the sounds the two letters make on their own. 

There are two types of digraphs: consonant digraphs and vowel digraphs. 

  • Consonant digraphs are made of two consonants that make one sound. 
  • Vowel digraphs are made of two letters, at least one of which is a vowel, that together make one sound. 

Vowel digraphs are sometimes called vowel teams instead. For this post, I will be focusing primarily on consonant digraphs.  

Examples of the most common consonant digraphs: sh, ch, th, wh

Most teachers will introduce digraphs to their students in kinder after they’ve gained a strong understanding of individual consonant and short vowel sounds. Digraphs are usually reviewed and reinforced in 1st grade and 2nd grade. 

For help teaching individual sounds in a multi-sensory way, check out these Body-Spelling PowerPoints with Sound-to-Letter Pages!

Here is My Favorite Way to Teach Digraphs:

Digraphs are so much fun to teach! Here is my absolute favorite how-to for teaching digraphs!

You’ll need: blue and yellow paint, and magnetic letters or letter cards. 

Step 1:

On thick paper, place a small amount of blue paint and a small amount of yellow paint next to it. Then, ask your students what two colors they see.

Step 2:

Blend the two paint dabs together and ask students what new color the blue and yellow paint made together. 

Connect it to digraphs: Explain to your students that this is just like how digraphs work! Say, “Just like these two colors made a new color when put together, two letters can make a new sound when put together, too!”

Step 3:

Use your magnet letters or letter cards to display the letters /s/ and /h/ separately. Ask students what sounds the two letters make individually.

Step 4:

Push the /s/ and the /h/ together to make /sh/ and tell your students what sound they make together. Have your students practice the sound by mimicking you!

Here are 8 Simple Ways to Gamify Teaching Digraphs

1. Digraph Freeze

Have your students briskly walk around your classroom as you say words out loud. When they hear a word with the focus digraph, they freeze. Anyone who continues moving is out and the last player standing wins!

2. Head and Toes

Prep a list of words with your focus digraph at the beginning or the end. Have your students stand next to their seats. If they hear the digraph at the beginning of the word, have them put their hands on their heads. If they hear the digraph at the end of the word, have them put their hands on their toes. *Challenge: Add words with digraphs in the middle and have students touch waists.

3. Mystery Bag

Grab a bag and fill it with items or pictures of items with your focus digraph. Give clues and let kids guess what the item might be. 

Challenge: You can make this even more challenging by having them write their guess on a whiteboard to show you.

4. Digraph Hopscotch

Take the kiddos outside for some fun! Draw a hopscotch that features two single blocks followed by a double block. Write the individual consonants in the single blocks and then the digraph in the double box. As they hop, have them make the two individual sounds, then the digraph sound as they hop on the double block. 

5. Digraph Go PHish

Put together a stack of letter flashcards that features C, S, P, W, T, and lots of Hs. Play go fish by the traditional rules, but instead of putting down pairs, have students put down digraphs. The first student to get rid of all of their cards wins! 

6. Read-Aloud

Read a book that has lots of words with the focus digraph. Have kids touch a part of their body or clothing that has the digraph. For example, touch their shoe for SH words, tooth for TH words, and chin for CH words.

7. Digraph Hokey-Pokey

Do the Hokey-Pokey! Together with your class, sing and dance to the Digraph Hokey-Pokey song (see the words above). Show each letter separately, then put them together for the last line.

8. Sorts

After introducing 2 or more digraphs, have students sort picture cards to identify the digraph in each word. This bundle has over 100 phonics sorts, including digraphs.

Done For You Phonics & Fluency Lessons!

Of course, you’ll also have to reinforce digraphs in your small groups. I’ve created just the resource to help and save you hours of planning: New Phonics & Fluency Decodable Lessons!

We know phonics is important, but it’s not enough. So, each 2-page lesson incorporates phonics, fluency, decodable text, high-frequency word mapping, comprehension, and writing!

This unit focuses on digraphs and double-consonants in 19 two-page lessons, decodable story cards, and more!

Check it out in my TPT store or my Tejeda’s Tots Shop:

Remember, teaching digraphs can be a tricky concept for little ones to grasp but it can also be so much fun! All you need to do is demonstrate how two things can combine to make one new thing and then practice, practice, practice!  

If you have any questions about or ideas about how to teach digraphs, please leave them below!

2 responses to “How to Teach Digraphs: 8 Ways to Make it Fun!”

  1. Karen Avatar

    Such terrific ideas! You really need to make a template for the Digraph Hokey Pokey and sell it!

    1. Brenda Avatar

      Thanks so much, Karen! You’re so sweet. 馃檪 I do include that in my Phonics & Fluency pack for digraphs. It’s one of my favorite ways to review digraphs!

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