I have spent a lot of time over the last two years concentrating on the main 26 phonic sounds, but both my charges are ready for the next stage and are moving on to the digraphs.  Digraphs are a combination of two letters representing one sound e.g. ch and sh.  This is were it also starts to get slightly more difficult, as it includes vowel combinations like ea, oo, ai etc.

The hardest part of trying to help EC is trying to help him understand that the same sound can be spelt different ways such as ai and ay, and that the same combination can produce two completely different sounds e.g. ow as in snow and ow as in how.  This is where this game comes in.  I made a set of playing cards using a lot (not all) of the digraphs.  We then set it up as a game of pairs/memory, however instead of EC trying to match the same picture, he has to match the two cards that make the same sound.  For example in one game I may have the cards OY match OI

AI match AY

E match EA

CH match TCH

As he gets better at correctly identifying the sounds we can switch the game from pairs to a faster paced game of snap.

We try to play a short game of pairs before he starts reading as it helps to identify the digraphs in the words.

There is a list of all the digraphs we used;

ch – tch

ai – ay – a_e – a

ee – ea – e_e – ey – e – y

or – oar – oor – our – ore

I – igh – ie – i_e – ye – y

oa – ow – o_e – o

oo – oul – u

oo – ui – ew – ough – ue

ar – a

er – ur -ir – ear

ou – ow

oi – oy

u – ue – ew – u_e

As you can see some of them appear more than once on the list, I have also included the single vowels.  When there are more than 2 diagraphs that produce the same sound I choose two e.g. ee and ea, and then use them in the game until EC has nailed them, before picking a different two ones.

This list was taken from the Jolly phonics website, but is by no means a complete list of digraphs.

So for this activity has been a huge hit, I only wish that I had had games like this when I was younger, because as a dyslexic myself I really struggle with them.

Here is the Phonics-Print-Out.pdf.