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Teaching Digraphs in Kindergarten

Teaching digraphs in kindergarten made fun with this interactive activity. Getting ready to teach ch sound and other digraphs? Explicit instruction on digraphs creating a new sound is essential in kindergarten and first-grade classrooms. Keep reading for tips, ideas, and an interactive paint activity to help guide your instruction. Plus grab a free printable!

This activity goes well with these Simply Kinder resources:

What are digraphs?

Digraphs are two letters that when combined make one sound. Consonant examples include ch, sh, th, wh, ph, ck. Digraphs can also be vowels such as ow, ue, oo, ay, ew, and many others. This article will focus on teaching consonant digraphs.

The key teaching point is that these two letters come together to form one sound!

Digraphs vs. Blends

Digraphs are two letters that make one sound. Blends are two letters that come together but each makes its own sound. Blends make two sounds such as sl, st, gr, and many others.

Teaching digraphs in kindergarten

Using interactive activities to teach that two letters come together to make one sound is a great way to teach digraphs in kindergarten.

But first, build the foundation of letters and sounds by explicitly teaching with the support of a sound wall! Get tips for using a sound wall in kindergarten here! Teaching letters sounds is the fastest way to read and comprehend literature.

The Phonics and Phonemes bundle with real kindergarten mouth photos is a teaching tool you might consider to show how sounds are formed in English.

As you see on the consonant wall above, digraphs are formed with a variety of mouth, tongue, and voice patterns. Practice making these sounds together!

Let’s Look at the Digraph CH for Example:

We must start with knowing that CH has 3 different sounds when spoken. It’s important for teachers and students to know this, so when they encounter words with ch they can decide which sounds it makes!

Most of the time, ch will make the /ch/ sound but it’s important to teach students that there are other sounds!

CH makes three different sounds in the English language:

The /ch/ sound as in child is made

• lips are apart and pushed out, teeth close together
• tongue is at the top on the bumpy gums behind top teeth
• the mouth opens and a small burst of air come out

The /k/ sound as in school is made:

  • mouth is open
  • tongue is lifted in the back but low in the front
  • to make the sound the tongue is lowered, and a puff of air comes out

The /sh/ sound as in chef is made:

  • Push the lips apart and forward
  • The teeth are slightly together.
  • Your cheeks are touching the inside back of the teeth
  • Push air out to make the sound

Again, most of the time, ch will make the /ch/ sound but it’s important to teach students that there are other sounds! Imagine how confused a student would be to read school if they thought ch only made the /ch/ sound!

Teaching Digraphs in Kindergarten Interactive Activity

Use the free printable below or have students draw their own interactive Venn diagram showing that digraphs come together to make one sound!

Materials needed:

  1. Paper or free printable
  2. Pencil or markers
  3. 2 paints that blend together such as red and white to make pink
  4. Optional: Sound brochures or other explicit teaching support for digraphs

Steps:

  1. Write each letter on a side
  2. Write the digraph in the middle
  3. Or trace the letters in the free printable
  4. Add one color paint to one side (i.e. red)
  5. Use one colors paint to the other side (i.e. white)
  6. Add blended paint in the middle (i.e. pink)
  7. Model and practice saying the digraph
  8. OPTIONAL: Generate a list of words that make that sound and write them below

Extension Activities

If your students are ready, you can generate a list of words that make that sound and write them below! Or extend it further by practicing all three sounds CH makes! Then turn it into a sound sort.

Teaching Digraphs in Kindergarten Free Printable

Grab this free printable to help guide a digraph lesson in your classroom! Just enter your information in here and the Simply Kidner Freebie Fairy will send that right over. Already a member, unlock your free printable here too!

This post was written by Kate. An experienced master teacher that loves all things literacy and kindergarten!

At Simply Kinder we work together to bring you ready-to-use resources to partner with great teaching for any curriculum, a Facebook community where teachers talk all things Kindergarten, and low-prep learning ideas that your students will love. Be sure to stay up to date with all things kindergarten on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and through email. Simply Kinder: where teaching Kinder is definitely better together!

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