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Teaching Consonant Blends and Diagraphs

Updated on September 14, 2014

What Are Consonant Blends and Diagraphs?

Certain letter combinations represent specific sounds, such as "fl, st, sw, gr, and bl." When these letter combinations are composed of consonant letters, they are called "consonant blends." These blends can occur anywhere in the word, but we will introduce them at the beginning of the word. We have a special name for letter blends where one letter is silent, but it changes the sound of the other letter, these are "diagraphs." Examples of diagraphs are "ch, th, and sh."

Initially, a child learns basic CVC words, or words comprised of the basic consonant-vowel-consonant pattern, like cat and dog. Once these are mastered, it is time to move on to beginning these words with consonant blends and diagraphs, like chat and frog.

So what about teaching consonant blends and diagraphs...

How is it done?

Up until this point, your child has probably been working on CVC words, or word families. These word families, have a common ending and number of possible beginning consonant letters. For example, the "AT" word family is comprised of words like "cat, hat, bat, rat, sat, mat, pat, and vat." Follow this link for more information on Teaching Word Families and CVC words.

Because your child is comfortable with the "AT" family, we can now introduce blends to the beginning of this family to easily help a child learn to blend letters. Common blend combinations for the "AT" family are:

*flat

*slat

*brat

*drat

*scat

*spat

*that

The "UG" Word Family - Adding Consonant Blends and Diagraphs to the Beginning of this Word Family

We use flip books to practice word families. Begin by reading only the ending of the word, such as "UG." These flip books begin by adding single letters to the beginning of the word, for example, "bug." Then the book progresses to using blends such as, "plug."

  • slug
  • drug
  • snug
  • chug
  • thug
  • plug

Handy Games and Resources for Teaching Word Families

These flip books from Lakeshore Learning are used to teach children a variety of words with the same ending spelling, by flipping the page to change the beginning of the word only. In the photo, it shows more difficult words, but the kit begins with the basic "at," "ag," etc. families explained here and words it's way to more difficult word endings. Each flip book begins with single consonant letter beginnings to each word and moves to adding consonant blends at the beginning of the word later in the book.

Lakeshore Learning Word Family Flip Books

More Word Families that Begin with Diagraphs and Consonant Blends

The "AG" Family

*shag

*stag

*brag

*drag

*flag

*snag

*swag

The "AN" Word Family

  • clan
  • plan
  • bran
  • scan
  • span
  • than

"Often, when I am reading a good book, I stop and thank my teacher."

The "AM" Word Family

  • clam
  • slam
  • cram
  • gram
  • swam
  • scam
  • sham

The "AP" Word Family

  • clap
  • flap
  • slap
  • trap
  • wrap
  • snap
  • chap

The "OD" Word Family

  • clod
  • prod
  • plod
  • trod

The "OP" Word Family

  • stop
  • chop
  • shop

The "OG" Word Family

  • clog
  • smog
  • frog

The "OT" Word Family

  • blot
  • clot
  • plot
  • slot
  • trot
  • spot
  • shot

Some of these words may be new to children. Take a moment to discuss the meaning as you introduce a new word.

The "OB" Word Family

  • blob
  • snob
  • slob

The "IT" Word Family

  • flit
  • slit
  • grit
  • spit

The "IN" Word Family

  • grin
  • twin
  • skin
  • spin
  • chin
  • shin
  • thin

The "IM" Word Family

  • slim
  • brim
  • grim
  • trim
  • swim
  • skim
  • whim

The "ID" Word Family

  • slid
  • grid
  • skid

The "UN" Word Family

  • spun
  • stun
  • shun

Each time a new letter blend is introduced, take a moment to pronounce it. Underline it to help the child visualize it.

The "UT" Word Family

  • shut

The "UM" Word Family

  • plum
  • slum
  • drum

The "EN" Word Family

  • then
  • when

The "ED" Word Family

  • bled
  • fled
  • sled
  • sped
  • shed
  • Fred

Explode the Code Book 2 - for teaching consonant blends and diagraphs

The "Explode the Code" series is my favorite phonics program for homeschooling. Books 2 and 3 help students practice consonant blends at the beginning and end of words.

Explode the Code Book 3

"Get Set for the Code" and "Explode the Code"

This book series actually begins with "Get Set for the Code" A, B and C. These books teach basic letter sounds. When a child completes this series, they move on to the "Explode the Code Series." Book 1 and 1 1/2 are for exploring CVC words. Book 2 is the first book that includes letter blends, and diagraphs. Book 2 1/2 is for further exploring these words and are for kids that want a little extra practice beyond book 2.

More Pictures of Word Family Practice

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For more great homeschooling ideas, check out these sites:

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What do you think about teaching consonant blends and diagraphs? - Let me know here what you thought!

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    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      Very good information, Heather! I think the games with the flip cards would be so helpful in teaching this.

    • Barbie Crafts profile image

      Barbie Crafts 5 years ago from United States

      Your child is a lucky, fortunate child to have a parent so interested in them. Thanks!

    • Showpup LM profile image

      Showpup LM 5 years ago

      Love this. Where were you when I was homeschooling our three boys? :) Nice job!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      this is very helpful, very helpful indeed

    • iijuan12 profile image

      iijuan12 5 years ago from Florida

      Interesting lens.

    • profile image

      Bastiful 2 years ago

      When I bought the Leap Pad I thuohgt it was a bummer because it did not come with this book although it was shown on the cover of the box. However, once I learned that this book was available I purchased it.My just turned five year old pre-schooler has not put it down since I bought it two weeks ago. He works hours at it. Never tires. His progress has been spectacular. My wife who taught phonics for 30 years is very pleased not only with the book but the way it teaches phonics. My pre-schooler has not only learned his phonics but he is beginning to read.I have had difficulty getting him interested in other Leap Pad learning books but not with this one. He thirsts for knowledge and this Leap Pad product has really turned him on.I would highly recommend it for children who have already learned their alphabet and are beginning to write. The only drawback is that it way too expensive.

    • profile image

      Tere 2 years ago

      Thank you so much for the pictures!! They are asweome! You are doing such an amazing job as their teacher! Jaxon loves going to school this year because he has so much fun! Thank you for caring so much for our little ones it means more than you will ever know!

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