Phonics is an important part of teaching students how to read. When we teach phonics to students, we can’t just teach them the sounds each letter makes. It’s also important to teach consonant blends in elementary. This can be easily done by using these six strategies.
What Consonant Blends?
A consonant blend is when there are 2 consonants together. This blend comes before or after the main vowel in the word. For example in the word “stand,” the /st/ blend comes before the vowel and the /nd/ comes after. In the word last, the /st/ blend comes after the vowel. So how do you teach consonant blends in elementary? By doing the following.
- Explicitly teach the difference between consonant blends and digraphs.
- Listen and Tap
- Introduce Graphemes
- Provide Words to Decode
- Give Sentences to Decode
- Use Review Games to Reinforce
For more details you can click on the image below to go to my latest YouTube video, or keep reading below.
1 Explicitly Teach Consonant Blends and Diagraphs
Before I teach consonant blends in elementary, I make sure my students understand the difference between consonant blends and digraphs. I teach digraphs first which are two letters that make one sound. To learn more about how to teach digraphs, check out this blog. Then, I teach consonant blends which are two letters that make two sounds. From there, I progress into three letter blends like “str” for stripe.
2 Listen and Tap the Sounds
Once students know the difference between a digraph and a consonant blend, you can get students to listen and tap out the sounds. To start, I would gather images and words with blends or read out the words to your students. Then have students simply listen to the words first. After, have the students repeat the words back to you. During this time, I have students tap out sounds on their other arm with their fingers. You can also use Elkonin boxes, pop-its, or playdough as a manipulative for tapping out sounds. During this step of teaching consonant blends in elementary, you might find your students getting frustrated. If this happens, just know you may have to repeat this step a few times for students to master it.
3 Teach Consonant Blends in Elementary by Introducing Letters
When you get to the third step, it’s time to introduce the letters or graphemes. I do this by teaching various types of blends such as -s blends, -r blends, and -l blends. When you learn -s blends, /s/ is the start of the blend. the -r and the -l are the second consonant in the blend. While there are several other consonant blends, these are the most common.
4 Start to Decode Words
Once students understand all of the rules of consonant blends, you can start giving them words to decode. I like to start with the common consonant blends because they are going to see them most often. For example, I might give students words like stem and first. This helps them see the consonant blend can come before and after the main vowel.
5 Begin to Decode Sentences
The first step in comprehension is knowing how to read the words that are in sentences. Once students have decoding words down, you can start giving them more sentences to decode. Eventually, you can have students start writing their own sentences or reading decodable texts!
6 Review Consonant Blends with Games
When you teach consonant blends in elementary, you want to constantly review the sounds you have taught. A great way to do this is by playing phonics games with your students as a whole group or in centers. You can find phonics games that focus on consonant blends here!
Teaching consonant blends in elementary is a crucial skill students need to have in order to become strong readers! You can teach consonant blends in elementary easily by using this simple six step strategy. When you use these steps, make sure you are always reinforcing the learning and paying attention to students’ needs so you don’t move too fast or too slow.