6 Easy Ways to Teach Digraphs to Under 6's

Collaborative post by another author. Digraphs are extremely important tools in relation to teaching phonics to children. A digraph is simply a combination of two letters that produces a unique sound. Here are some examples:

  • CH (cheese)
  • CH (school)
  • NG (sing)
  • SH (ship)
  • WH (white)

While adults take digraphs for granted, children can sometimes find it difficult to understand the main takeaway points. Let us look at six ways to introduce these phonemes within everyday educational settings and at home. 

A 5 year old girl writing with a pencil at a desk
6 ways to teach digraphs

Imitation Games

Children often learn by modelling and this is just as relevant in terms of teaching digraphs. Encourage them to follow along when mouthing specific sounds. This will help to reinforce how each is pronounced; especially when used in a basic sentence. 

Flash Cards

One tried-and-tested method involves the use of flashcards. These visual aids are great ways to introduce new digraphs as well as to emphasise the different sounds that each combination makes. When stressing letters within a word, make certain that they are bolded so that the child can appreciate the specific location. 

Matching Pictures to Words

Sometimes known as word-building activities, children can be asked to create a word based on an image (such as a bird or a ship). Allow them to select letters from a series of cards or laminated paper squares. Think of this approach as a much simpler version of adult Scrabble. Furthermore, matching games provide an excellent opportunity to utilise EYFS assessment software in order to track the progress of each student. 

Digraph Books 

There are some books which have been specifically created to focus upon the role of diagraphs. Although these tend to be used with slightly older children (between five and six years of age), the associated benefits are profound. Presenting digraphs within the context of a sentence will help children understand how discrete sounds relate to one another. This is also a powerful way to improve basic reading and vocabulary skills. 

Sing-Along Activities

This next approach is excellent when introducing digraphs to younger learners. Although they might not be able to grasp the exact concept of letter combinations, they can begin to mimic the sounds by singing along with an adult. Be sure to check out examples such as this video to better appreciate your options. 

Daily Digraphs

Many teachers will choose a day or week to place an emphasis upon a specific letter and the same can be done with digraphs at home. For example, why not dedicate a week to learn about words with "ch" such as chips, cheese and cherries? This approach will allow children to become familiar with basic phonetic concepts over time. 

Appreciating the basic rules of digraphs is crucial when learning new words and when constructing basic sentences. This is why the suggestions highlighted above can prove to be invaluable resources both within the classroom and at home. The good news is that digraphs can also be a great deal of fun if approached in the correct manner!

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