What is a digraph?!

Updated: May 2, 2019

At my son’s parents evening last week one of the targets we were given was to practise digraphs with him at home. This was because,at times, he was struggling to read them in words. His teachers know I am a teacher too so we continued to talk for a while about the different digraphs he needed to focus on. My husband was noticeably quiet throughout all of this. After we left the meeting he turned to me and said, “What is a digraph?” His silence was explained, as (fair enough as he isn’t a teacher) he didn’t know what we were talking about!

So what is a digraph and how can you help your child to learn them and use them to read word? A digraph is two letters that together make one sound e.g sh, th, ea.

There are different types of digraphs:

Vowel digraphs in which at least one of the letters is a vowel E.g. ea, ay, ai, ar

Consonant digraph - where both letters are consonants E.g. sh, ch, th, ph

Split digraphs- two letters, which work as a pair to make one sound, but are separated within the word. E.g. a-e as in make or late; i-e as in size or write.

Your child will learn to read a lot of different digraphs in Reception class and Year 1 and will continue to consolidate this understanding in Year 2 and 3. But how can you make learning digraphs fun?

Digraph Cup Towers

You will need:

10 plastic or paper cups

Post it notes

Two felt tip pens of different colours

Rules of the game

1) Choose a digraph from the list of ones your child is currently learning (your child’s school should have given you or be able to give you a list of these) or you may have noticed a digraph your child is struggling to read when you read together e.g ea or sh.

2) Write this sound on a post it note and say it to your child. Get your child to say it back to you as they stick the post it note on to a cup.

3) On a post it note write a word containing the digraph you have chosen. Write the digraph in a different colour to the rest of the word. E.g. beach

4) Get your child to sound out and then blend and read the word. Once they have done this they stick the post it note on to a new cup.

5) Repeat this process with other words containing the same digraphs.

As the number of cups, with words on, has increased they have to try and build the biggest tower that they can.

Building a tower, and the drive to get more cups to do this, means children quickly forget they are practising reading words and turns the activity into a fun challenge!

About Edvanced:

Set up by 2 former deputy headteachers to help you support your little one's learning. Edvanced aims to bridge the gap between teaching in schools and learning at home. Take a look at our workshops packed with information, fun activities to reinforce learning at home and dedicated question and answer section. We would love to see you there.


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