What is the difference between a blend and a digraph?
A consonant digraph contains two letters but only makes one sound: the digraph sh makes the sound /sh/. Other common consonant digraphs are sh, ch, wh, th, ck. A blend contains two or three consonants that each make their own sound but blend together to make syllables and words: in the word sleep, the letters s and l form sl. Other common blends are st, fl, sk, and gr. In other words, a digraph corresponds to a single phoneme whereas a blend corresponds to two or three phonemes (sounds) blended together.
For example, the word tree contains a two-consonant blend of t and r. Each letter makes its own sound and these sounds are blended together into tr. The word splash contains a three-consonant blend of s, p, and l. Each letter makes its own sound and these sounds are blended together into spl. Whereas, the sh in ash is a digraph because s and h make a single sound.
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Phonics is the method that helps children build systematic connections between letters and sounds. Phonics has a better impact on children’s reading ability than any other type of reading program. It has also been shown to improve spelling, particularly among kindergarteners and first graders.
To find out more, read our Deep Dive into Phonics report. This report provides an easy-to-understand overview of phonics and phonemic awareness - why they are important and how they are taught in the classroom - and explains all the relevant terminology. It's perfect for sharing with colleagues, friends, and to Google Classroom!