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3 Activities To Help Teach Digraphs

I often find myself grasping for some new ideas for introducing and teaching phonics and digraphs to my students. Digraphs are when 2 letters are used to represent one sound.…

I often find myself grasping for some new ideas for introducing and teaching phonics and digraphs to my students. Digraphs are when 2 letters are used to represent one sound. Some examples of digraphs include: /sh/, /ch/, /th/, /ck/, /a-e/, /o-e/… and there are many more.

Today I’m sharing a few activities that work well for introducing digraphs to kids—and resources that can be used to help students consolidate their skills that they can work on independently and also some games that work well for small groups.

And if you want some more FUN spelling games, then you’re invited to join me for the spelling game challenge! Here’s how it works: Sign up, and each day, for five days, I’ll email you a new spelling game along with a short explanation on how to use it. So go ahead and bring some fun back into spelling.

3 easy ways to teach digraphs to the whole class

These three activities serve me well when I’m teaching a new digraph to the class. They can also work well with small groups.

1. What’s missing?

I like to do this as the first activity for introducing a new digraph. When students arrive in the morning, I have a word with sounds missing (focus digraph) written up on the board. It stays up there until someone guesses what the missing sound is and spells the word. Some examples could include:

___eep (sh), tr___n (ai), bran___ (ch)

This activity can also be used for introducing blends and consonants.

2. Concept attainment

This is another great activity to introduce a new digraph focus. First, I give each student a card with a word on it. Up on the board I have two columns drawn, one for yes and one for no. The yes column is for the words that have the new concept we’ll be learning about, and the no column are for the words that do not have what we’re learning about.

Each student comes to the front of the room and reads their word. For the first few students I tell them whether it is a yes or no word and where to stick the word. When there are quite a few words up on the board we look at the ones in the yes column and have a chat about whether they notice any patterns in the words. There are always a couple of students who know what the pattern is early and can then help those students who don’t know which column their word belongs in.

3. Mystery bag

This activity uses props to help introduce a new digraph. For this activity I have a bag filled with items that have the digraph in the word. For example, for the digraph /ck/, I could have a truck, clock, duck, rock, and sock. I write the digraph on the board, for example: /ck/ and ask students to tell me some words that have that sound. As students make suggestions I write the word on the board. If the word is also one of the props I take this out and introduce it to the class. We keep going until students cannot think of any more words. If some of the props haven’t been mentioned, then I give clues to the students to help them work out what they are. This is a great way to match the word to a visual item.

Additional digraphs practice

The following resources are great for kids to consolidate skills. Most can be done alone and some games can also work for small groups. They are great for a phonics station, independent work while providing additional support to other students, or homework practice.

Digraph packs

Because I always need more activities and worksheets, I’ve created a number of digraph packs. Each pack focuses on one digraph /qu/, /th/, /ng/, /sh/, /ch/, (/a-e/, /ai/, /ay/), /ck/, and /wh/.

In each pack you get:

  1. Classroom posters for the digraph
  2. Word wall cards
  3. 10 activities / worksheets per pack, including:
    1. Cut and Match
    2. Draw the Words
    3. Draw and Match
    4. Un-Jumble the Words
    5. Choose the Correct Spelling
    6. Find the Words
    7. Word Hunt
    8. Word Triangles
    9. Finish the Sentence
    10. Jumbled Sentences
  4.  Games
    1. Bingo: simple and advanced

The Ultimate Digraph Teaching Kit

The Digraph Packs are great if you need activities focused on one or two particular digraphs, but if you’d like resources for all the digraphs listed above—sh, ch, th, ck, wh, ng, qu, ai, ay, a-e—you need The Ultimate Digraph Teaching Kit.

With the Ultimate Digraph Teaching Kit, you get posters, word wall cards, activities, and games for 10 different digraphs—over 200 pages of done-for-you resources.

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  1. Karen Lazenby

    Just a mom needing some extra help in reviewing digraphs; love both of the the freebies. I think my son will enjoy doing both. Thanks for offering them.

    • Melinda

      Hi Karen,

      Thanks so much for stopping by. I’m glad to hear you like the freebies, I hope your son enjoys them as well.


  2. English teaching

    WOW juwt what I was searching for. Came here by searching for

  3. Mary

    Thanks for sharing your story. Something to think about: I was wondering if you had thought about the area of speech and language. It is a booming field with a high need. Your expertise in dyslexia and teaching background would be a huge asset. In the U.S. there are two levels, the Speech and Language Pathologist (a.k.a. “the boss”) and the speech and language assistant (assistants can’t practice without being under the supervision of a speech pathologist). This field can also be very ‘political’ (as can any profession) but it would bring you back working with younger children but in different capacity. Good luck.


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