learn, build, and read consonant blends here

What are consonant blends and digraphs?

Consonant blends are two or three consonant letters that are put together to make a specific sound. While each letter sound can be heard in the blend, the letters are recognized and pronounced as one sound. Consonant blends can be heard at both the beginning and end of a word. For example “bl” in blue is a consonant blend, and “st” in last is also a consonant blend. Other common consonant blends are br, cl,cr,dr, fr, gl, gr, sl, sm, and sp.

Consonant blends and digraphs are often taught around the same time. The difference between the two is that consonant blends are two or three letters that we pronounce as one sound, but each individual phonetic sound of the letters stay the same.  However with diagraphs, sounds like sh, th, wh, ch, the combined letters form a special or different sound.

Why should kids learn them?

It’s imperative for kids to learn consonant blends because it shortens the reading process. Without them a student would be forced to sound out every individual letter, which can become cumbersome and laborious. For example the word black has five letters, and can have five individual sounds. Without consonant blends a child would sound out b-l-a-c-k, which is five different sounds. With consonant blends the student would sound out bl-a-ck, which is only three sounds, thus cutting the reading time almost in half.  This becomes an even more important skill when deciphering larger words.

When should kids learn them?

I’m not sure there’s a right or wrong answer as to when these sounds should be learned. However, I like to teach them right after a student has learned the basic 26 phonetic sounds of the alphabet, and a few basic word endings. These letters occur together so often, especially in words that have four letters or more that to me it just makes sense to teach these as soon as possible. It also reinforces the concept of grouping letters together to form one sound.

How to use this site to learn consonant blends and digraphs

This site teaches consonant blends and digraphs at the same time. Your child can first learn the sounds, and then build words with them, and finally read words that contain these sounds. Most words with consonant blends and digraphs have four letters or more and are sometimes called blue box words (in the Montessori system). Before a child learns consonant blends or digraphs they should be very comfortable with the basic 26 phonetic sounds of the alphabet.