Your students are understanding letter names and sounds, can blend, chunk, and stretch sounds. Now what? It’s time to jump into digraphs. Digraphs go against everything you’ve just taught your students. Letter sounds no longer apply and this is likely their first introduction to two letters making one sound. Ugh! Teaching kids to read can be so hard! I love using digraph anchor charts to introduce and teach these important phonics concepts to my students.
As you know, digraphs are two are more consonants together that make only one sound. This is often a difficult concept for our young students to master. After all, they just learned all the letter sounds and now we want to change it up. It’s often hard for them to understand why two letters only have one sound.
Some common digraphs are ch, sh, th and wh. Digraphs are important to learn so that students can decode new words with new combined letter sounds. They are a common part of English words and a necessary stepping stone in the process of learning to read. So let’s jump right into teaching digraphs to young readers.
Teaching Digraphs with Interactive Anchor Charts
Interactive Anchor Charts
Ahh anchor charts! You know I love them and use them all the time, and teaching digraphs is no exception. In fact, the more difficult the concept, the more I am likely to rely on these engaging anchor charts.
When teaching digraphs I teach them one at a time. The first one is always the hardest because we really have to push through those first learned phonics rules. After the first one, it gets much easier!
The Engaging Factor
The very first thing we add to our anchor chart are the large, colorful letters that make up the digraph. Then we jump right into turning the letters into a character or picture.
Giving the students a visual connection between the digraph and the sound is so helpful. And it helps that they love helping to make these pictures.
Focusing on the Sound
Once we have the visual digraph it’s time to introduce the sound. I like to really ham it up on the first one and my absolutely best exasperation comes out as I explain that these two letters only make one sound. I feel like this goes a long way in helping students overcome what is one of the first of many exceptions to the phonics rules they have learned.
After introducing and practicing the sound, I teach my students the chant that goes along with the digraph. This is something that helps them connect the sound to words. In fact, we repeat this chant everyday that we review digraphs. I just love when students are working independently and you can hear them using these chants as they segment and spell.
Once you make it through this part, the hard work is usually over. By now students are generally bought into the digraph concept and you can focus on the sound and words.
Connecting the Sound to Words
Once student have learned that the two consonant letters make one sound, and they know the sound, it is time to jump right in with a variety of words. Not only do these words help them learn to identify the sound, but it’s also a great way to expand their vocabulary too.
In my classroom we often start by going on a word hunt. I like to hide word cards around the room and let the students find them. Then we take turns sharing the words we found and pointing out the digraph on the word.
The next day we use those same word cards and do a sorting activity. Our focus becomes identifying when we hear the sound, at the beginning or the end of the word. To get started on this I refer back to our cute digraph characters on the anchor chart. One of them represents a beginning sound and the other an ending sound so this is a great place to start.
I pull out or word cards and we practice saying the word and finding the sound. Then we identify if it as the beginning of the word or the end of the word. Finally, we add it to the anchor chart in the correct category.
The Personal Connection
We finish up our study of the digraph by making it personal. I love to have students apply what they have learned by brainstorming words with the digraph sound. Doing this at the end of the week really helps all students to be able to participate. The students love coming up with words that haven’t been used yet in the lessons.
But . . . be warned. There are some not so appropriate words with these digraph sounds. So just be ready because you never know what a student might say.
Sometimes we just do an oral brainstorm of words and other times I let each student pick one word and create their own word card with a picture. Of course, we add those to the anchor chart too!
We generally end our study by doing a digraph craft that wraps up all the learning. Students love creating their own digraph characters. I then give students their own word cards and have them sort them just like we did on the anchor chart. This is a great way to informally assess how students are understanding the digraph sound and concepts.
Digraph Anchor Charts
The anchor chart is a key component to our mini-lessons and whole class activities. We interact with it each day as we learn a new skill or concept. While I’ve used anchor charts for years, none are as engaging as the ones that the students help to create. There’s something about being part of the process that really helps them take ownership of their learning.
If you are looking for some low prep, ready to go digraph anchor charts, be sure to check out the resources below in the Emily Education Store!
More Anchor Chart Fun
If you love using anchor charts for your phonics lessons, then check out the Phonics Anchor Charts Growing Bundle! This is a growing bundle for all my phonics anchor charts for the whole year. It will have 27 Interactive Anchor Charts to teach your students about different phonics concepts. Yay!
Save these Digraph Anchor Charts
Be sure to pin this to your favorite classroom Pinterest board and save these tips for teaching digraphs with anchor charts.