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Letter Combination Activities About

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Letter Combinations Activities

Teaching letter combinations means teaching the ability to produce the most common sound for each of the most frequently occurring letter combinations. (By letter combinations we mean a series of letters whose sound would not be produced correctly by a student pronouncing one letter sound at a time. Letter combinations include digraphs, diphthongs, r-controlled vowels, etc., but do not include blends such as gr and bl.)

The objective of the Letter Combination sequence of activities is to teach students to recognize printed letter combinations and say the most common sounds for those combinations and to decode VCe words.

This strand teaches the following letter combinations: th er sh oa wh ol ar qu ee ea oo ch ai ay or kn ou ir ur ph oi oy wr au aw al igh

(Note: We don't teach ow, because the most common sound--the sound in own--is correct only 50 percent of the time. All the other sounds here are correct more than 50 percent of the time. See Hanna et al., 1996.)

This strand also teaches the VCe rule: when a word ends with the VCe pattern, the vowel says its name.

This strand of instruction was constructed on the following principles:

  • Each letter combination introduced is reintroduced in the very next lesson to provide adequate daily practice.
  • Once multiple letter combinations have been introduced, we use an accuracy-building activity to teach students to discriminate between the letter combinations they have learned.
  • We use fluency-building activities to help students become automatic in this skill--i.e., to become so fast they don't have to think about it.

In FreeReading, whenever a letter combination is enclosed in slashes, such as /oa/, you should say the most common sound for the letter combination. The most commons sounds are given here.