Fun Little St. Patrick’s Day Activity for Practicing Digraphs

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St. Patrick’s Day is soon approaching!  My goodness, this school year is flying by.  It’s kind of fun how we measure our school year by the coming and goings of the holidays.  So far this year we’ve had 9 snow days!  Can you believe it?  9!  It seems like we’ve been hit with a deep freeze this year.  It’s not often that you read -29 degrees on your car thermometer.  That’s not even counting the wind chill.   When you live in the great white north you never know what can happen.  With winter not even over, we may have to go well into summer.   Anyway, here’s a little digraph activity I whipped up on one snow day morning.

What you’ll need to do is copy the pdf below, cut out the shamrocks and hot glue them on the ends of a large craft stick.  Be sure to make a set for each student in your group.  For those students just learning digraphs, you’ll want to begin with sounds only.  So, say the sound of one of the digrpahs (e.g. /sh/) and have the students hold up the correct stick.  You can differentiate the activity by choosing the number of digraphs you use within the group.

Shamrock Digraphs

Click the following link to download this free printable Shamrock Digraphs

If the students are doing pretty well with the sounds only, add a little more difficulty by providing a word and having the students hold up the correct stick.  Here’s a word list for consonant digraphs that you can use.  I have a hard time thinking of those words on the spot.

Common Consonant Digraph Word List

Click the following link to download this free consonant digraph word list. Common Consonant Digraph Word List

On another one of those snow days, I made a digraph sorting activity activity.  Sorting activities are very helpful when introducing a skill or for use when students are having a difficult time hearing the differences between sounds.  When you download this activity, you’ll receive 40 colorful coins with pictures of digraphs.

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Click HERE to download this activity from my TpT store.

I have to say that the unexpected snow day is always a treat.  But to have 9! Holy Cow!  It’s getting difficult to get back in a routine.  So, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but….let’s hope for at least a few solid weeks of school in the upcoming months.

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Resources for Teaching Blends and Digraphs

Many of my first grade friends are now learning common blends and digraphs.  I thought it’d help if I gathered a few of my favorite resources and activities as well as answer common questions for introducing and practicing this skill.

What’s the difference between a blend and a digraph?

Consonant Blends

A consonant blend is when two or more consonants are blended together, but each sound may be heard in the blend.  The most common beginning consonant blends include: bl, br, cl, cr, dr, fr, tr, fl, gl, gr, pl, pr, sl, sm, sp and st.  Blends can also occur at the end of words as in the word “last”.  There are also blends which contain three consonants.  Common three consonant blends include: str, spl, and spr.  When teaching blends, most teachers introduced them in groups.  For example, a teacher may choose to introduce the l-blends first (bl, cl, fl, gl, pl and sl) followed by the r-blends.  When introducing the concept of blends and digraphs, cue cards often help.  Here’s one I made with many of the consonant blends.  You can download this for free.

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Click HERE to download this freebie from my TpT store

Consonant Digraphs

In a consonant digraph, two consonants stand together to represent a single sound.  The most common consonant digraphs are: sh, ch, th, and wh.  There are other consonant digraphs (ph); however, most teachers typically introduce these 4 digraphs first as they are the most common.  They are often referred to as the “h brothers”.  Teaching digraphs can be lots of fun.  However you choose to introduce this concept, be sure to add visuals as they are so helpful especially for our struggling readers.  Here’s the cue card specifically for digraphs that I made to introduce the concept.  Specific instructions for introducing digraphs during instruction can be found in the Consonant Blends and Digraphs Activity Pack.

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Click HERE to download this cue card for free from my TpT store

Sometimes you just need a list of words to support instructional activities.  Just click the following link to download a list of common words containing consonant digraphs

Common Digraphs List

To download this handout just click the following link:  Common-Consonant-Digraph-Word-List-3

Which should be taught first?

This is a little tricky.  Some reading programs do not even teach blends as they are really two separate sounds.  Personally, I believe teaching blends is a good idea as they are letters that frequently occur together so students are learning to recognize patterns in words.  Many reading programs introduce blends before the digraphs.  I would suggest following the sequence presented in your reading series.

How do we teach blends and digraphs?

For all learners, but especially for struggling readers, systematic and explicit phonics instruction is critical.  “Systematic phonics instruction” refers to the sequence of phonics skills introduced.  In a phonics program, there must be a logical order of introduction of skills.  “Explicit phonics instruction” refers to how the skills are taught.  Students need instruction where the teacher is providing precise directions for teaching the skills.  Struggling readers require additional guided practice in small groups and instruction must be differentiated to meet individual needs.

Make, Take & Teach Resources for Teaching Blends and Digraphs

Call me crazy, but love digraphs almost as much as I love short vowel sounds.  It’s so rewarding to see our young readers begin to move beyond just single letters and sounds and move towards more advanced phonics skills.   The Consonant Blends and Digraphs Activity Pack contains 15 hands-on activities that you can use to both teach and practice blends and digraphs.  The activities are designed specifically for small group instruction and contains a 26 page teaching manual with step-by-step instructions for each activity.

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Click HERE to download the Consonant Blends and Digraphs Activity Pack from my TpT store

Volume 5 of the Cookie Sheet Challenge was designed specifically for practicing blends and digraphs.  The cookie sheet activities are great for use within literacy centers and contain activities which can be differentiated.  Students and teachers just love the colorful graphics.

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Click HERE to download the cookie sheet activities for blends and digraphs from my TpT store.

The Write It Phonics Cards are great for centers.  To assemble the cards simply print them on card stock, laminate and bind them together with a loose leaf ring.  The cards can be used over and over again.

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Just click HERE to download the Write-It Phonics Cards for Consonant Blends

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Just click HERE to download the Write-It Phonics Cards for Consonant Digraphs

If  you have any fun ideas for teaching blends and digraphs, please let us know by leaving a comment.  To leave a comment on this blog post, just click the title.

 

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Teaching Long Vowel Spelling Patterns

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Long vowel sound spelling patterns are quite difficult for students to learn.  First they must understand that more than one letter can be used to represent one sound and then learn the various ways that the sound can be represented in print.  For example, there are 4 common ways the sound /a/ can be spelled: “a” as in “acorn”, “a_e”  as in “gate”, “ai” as in “rain” and “ay” as in “day”.  Students must also learn when to use the spelling pattern for each sound.  For example, the “ay” spelling pattern for the /a/ sound most often occurs at the end of words while the “ai” spelling pattern never occurs at the beginning or end of words.  Whoa! kind of confusing, huh?  No wonder it’s quite challenging for our emerging readers and writers.  The best way for students to learn the most common spelling patterns for long vowel sounds is through sorting activities.  This way they can begin to see the various representations of the vowel as well as when to use the pattern.

I’ve included a few resources for teaching the spelling patterns for long vowel sounds.  Having a word list often comes in handy.  You can make your own sorting activities on index cards or just use them for spelling practice during small group instruction. If you’d like to download the word list in one download just click the following link:  Long Vowel Sounds Word Lists

Long a word list

 Click the following link to download the word list for the long a vowel sounds Long a Vowel Sound Word List

Long e word list

 Click the following link to download the word list for the long e sound Long e Vowel Sound Word List

Long i word list

 Click the following link to download the word list for the long i sound Long i Vowel Sound Word List

Long o word list

Click the following link to download the word list for the long o sound Long o Vowel Sound Word List

Long u word list

 Click the following link to download the word list for the long u sound  Long u Vowel Sound Word

Here’s an activity already printed with a sorting mat containing the common spelling patterns for each vowel.  When you download this activity you will receive the sorting mats for each vowel and over 400 word cards.  Words cards have been color-coded for each vowel for the sake of organization.  There are also two set of word cards- one set with the spelling pattern printed in red and the other without the pattern highlighted.  This allows for differentiation.  This activity is available in my online Teachers Pay Teachers store.  Just click the link below.

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 The Long Vowel Sound Sorting activity is available in my online Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Here’s another resource that you may find helpful for teaching long vowel sounds.  The file folder activities are great for independent centers.

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 The File Folder Phonics Bundle is also available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

 

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A Sweet Little Freebie for Learning CVC Words!

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Here’s a fun little freebie for practicing consonant-vowel-consonant words.  Just print out the cupcakes and have your students see how many CVC words they can make with the onset and rime.   This activity can be used in your literacy centers or as an activity for small group instruction.

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To download the cupcakes and the recording sheet, simply click the link below!

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The Cupcake Matching activity for CVC Words is available in my online Teachers Pay Teachers store.

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Resources for Teaching the Magic e Rule

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Shortly after students are solid with their sound-symbol relationships we begin to teach specific phonics rules.  The Magic e rule is one of the first rules introduced to students.  Students must learn that vowels actually have two sounds- a long sound and a short sound.  When reading, students must decide if the vowel in the word makes a short or long sound.  One way a vowel makes a long sound is when an “e” appears at the end of a word.  An “e” close behind another vowel (with no more than one letter in between) usually makes the first vowel say its name, and the “e” is usually silent.  So the vowel sound in the word “cap” is short; the vowel sound in the word “cape” is long.  The “e” at the end of this word makes the vowel say its name (long sound) and then is silent at the end.

Using a story to teach this rule is often helpful.  Here’s a story that teachers sometime use when introducing the rule:

Magic e has magic powers!  He flies over the consonant and when he comes to the first vowel, he taps the vowel on the head with his magic wand and shouts, “Vowel, say your name!  Make the sound you say in the alphabet!”  Now, magic e is so tired.  He flies back to his spot.  He has no more energy so he goes to sleep without saying a sound.

So cute, right?  Teaching the rule can be tons of fun.  You can add a little movement into the story by providing students with their own “magic wand”.  You can purchase foam wands in most dollar stores.

Following direct instruction you’ll want to provide plenty of opportunities for reinforcing this rule.  Here are a few of my favorite activities that can be used during small group instruction or within literacy centers.

The Clip the Magic e  and Flip the Magic e activities are great activities for introducing the concept of the magic e rule.  With both activities, students receive practice reading words with and without the magic e.  Although these discrimination activities can be used within literacy centers, they are ideal for direct instruction during small group.

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When you download the Clip the Magic e activity you will receive 16 cards with picture cues and 12 words only cards.  Students simply “clip” the magic e at the end of word to change the vowel sound.

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 Click the following link to download this activity:  Clip the Magic e

The Flip the Magic e activity contains 28 flip cards- 8 with 2 pics, 7 with 1 pic and 13 words only cards.

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 Click the following link to download this activity:  Flip the Magic e

Once students understand the rule, they need multiple opportunities to practice this concept. The magic e game boards are great for providing this added practice.  When you download this file you will receive 4 game boards.  Did I mention that you can download this activity for FREE from my Teachers Pay Teachers store?

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Just click the following link to download the FREE Game Boards:  Magic e Game Boards

It’s always important to add a writing component into your instruction.  I LOVE these Write It Phonics Cards.  We actually have Write It Phonics Cards developed for many of the phonics skills.  Just print the cards, laminate and bind them together with a loose leaf ring.  Students write the correct vowel and magic e for each picture.  When done, simply wipe the cards clean.  They can be used over and over again!

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 Just click the following link to download the Magic e Write It Cards:  Write-It Phonics Cards for Magic e

Along the same lines as the Write It Phonics Cards is the Activities on the Go! for Magic e.  The difference is is that the cards fit into an old VHS case rather than being placed on a ring.  The directions are contained on the left hand side of the case and everything needed for the activity is on the right hand side.  Having the step-by-step directions handy makes this activity ideal for para-professionals or for classroom volunteers.  The VHS cases store nicely on your shelves too!

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 Just click the following link to download this activity:  Activities on the Go! for Magic e

The Magic e Activity Pack contains 17 hands-on activities for directly teaching the magic e rule as well as activities for practicing this skill within words and sentences.  This download includes a 13 page teaching manual with step-by-step directions for each activity.  The Magic e story for introducing the rule as well as a printable for creating wands for the students are included.

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 Just click the following link to download the activity pack:  Response to Intervention- Magic e Activity Pack

 

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Valentine Lotto FREEBIE!

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Valentine’s Day is almost here!  I just updated the Valentine Lotto activity for CVC words.  This activity is ideal for centers or for small group instruction so be sure to click the link below to download this freebie!

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Just click the following link:  Valentine’s Day Lotto

 Enjoy and Happy Valentine’s Day!

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