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Teaching Consonant Blends + Free Word List

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Learn all about teaching consonant blends or consonant clusters, with words and examples of initial l-blend, r-blend, s-blend, and w-blend words, ending t-blend and ending l-blend words, and 3 letter blend words.

As an added bonus, get a free printable list with 183 consonant blend words and examples, organized by blend.

Large words "Teaching Consonant Blends" with image of the consonant cluster word list with examples.
Download this free printable at the bottom of this post!

All About Consonant Blends

Consonant blends are two or three consonant letters next to each other, with no vowels in between. Each consonant sound (phoneme) can be heard in a consonant blend.

Blends are sometimes called consonant clusters because the consonants are clustered together with no vowels between.

These consonant clusters can come at the beginning of words (before the vowel) OR at the end of words (after a vowel). They can also be in the middle of a word when a prefix or suffix is added.

Teaching Consonant Blends

πŸ₯€I explain consonant blends like this to my students: When you make a smoothie in a blender, you might add blueberries and bananas and blend them together really fast. And when you take a sip, you should taste BOTH blueberries and bananas mixed together.

It’s the same ideas in consonant blends – except instead of tasting, we must hear each sound of the letters in the blend, saying them very fast.

πŸ‘Œ The great thing about blends is that we don’t have to teach them as separate units of sound. If students have a solid command of individual consonant sounds, then we can teach blends as a continuation of this.

Kids will need to focus on noticing the letters and matching those letters to sounds. Blends are usually introduced in first grade after letters a-z, short vowels, and digraphs and floss.

Visual with digraph and consonant blend definitions, examples, pictures, and explanations.

Blends Versus Digraphs

You might be wondering: What is the difference between blends and digraphs?

πŸ‘‰ Digraphs are two or three consonants that represent ONE sound (phoneme). Some examples include sh, ch, th, wh, ph, tch, and dge. (Read all about digraphs and grab a list of 161 digraph words.)

πŸ‘‰ Blends are two or three individual consonants (graphemes) that are next to one another and EACH separate sound (phoneme) can be heard. Some examples include cr, fl, st, sp, tw, str, -lt, and -ft.

It helps to show students examples of blends with pictures when teaching the difference!

Initial Consonant Blend Words

Initial consonant blends come at the beginning of words. Initial blends are usually sorted into three main categories: L blends, R blends, S blends. An additional category of W blends is sometimes included as well.

L-Blends

2 Consonant L-blend words include bl, cl, fl, gl, pl, and sl. The letter l is the second letter in the blend.

L-blend word examples:

blclflglplsl
blockclockflashlightglueplugsleep
blinkclotflip-flopglideplushslide
bluecleatfluteglitchplattersloppy
blushclubfluttergladplanslack

R-Blends

2 Consonant R-blend words include br cr, dr, fr, gr, pr, and tr. The letter r is the second letter in the blend.

R-blend word examples:

brcrdrfrgrprtr
broomcrayondrumfroggrapeprizetruck
bringcribdripfringegripprinttrim
brushcrushdrabfridgegradepramtricycle
bragcringedredgefreezegrandproptrick

S-Blends

2 Consonant S-blend words include sc, sk, sl, sm, sn, sp, st, and sw. These blends start with the letter s.

S blend word examples:

scsksmsnspst
scarfskirtsmilesnakespoonstop
scabskatesmashsniffspinstate
scaleskysmirksneaksparkstamp
scarskunksmellsnapspankstarch

W-Blends

Another smaller category can be consider ‘W’ blends, where the second letter in the blend is a W. 2 Consonant W-Blend words include dw, tw, and sw.

W-blend word examples:

dwtwsw
dwelltwistswing
dwarftwinswoosh
Dwighttweeksweep

Final Consonant Blend Words

Ending blends are sorted into these categories: Ending T Blends, Ending L Blends, and Others ending blends.

Ending T-Blends

Final T Blends include -ct, -ft, -lt, -nt, -pt, -st, and -xt. All of these blends end in the letter t.

Ending t-blend word examples:

-ct-ft-lt-nt-pt-st-xt
factgiftbeltbentkeptfasttext
actdriftjoltfontsleptdustnext
tactgraftbuiltjointweptcast
ejectleftfaultflintadopthost

*Note that -xt actually has three sounds, since the /ks/ sound of x has two phonemes.

Ending L-Blends

Final L Blends include -lb, -ld, -lf, -lk, -lp, and -lt. These blends have the letter l as the first letter of the ending blend.

Ending l-blend word examples:

-lb-ld-lf-lk-lp-lt
bulbcoldgolfmilkscalpsalt
foldshelfwalkgulpquilt
wildwolfchalkhelpbolt
baldelfyolkmalt

Other Ending Blends

Other Ending Blends include -nd, -nk, -sk, -sp, and -mp. Below are some other ending blend word examples:

-nd-nch-sk-sp-mp
andbranchduskgasplamp
fondlunchdeskwaspcamp
bendscrunchtaskclaspstomp
standpinchbriskcrispshrimp
suspendbenchhusklispgrump

Consonant Clusters with 3 Letters

The term consonant cluster is excellent, especially when describing blends that include three consonants. Anyone looking at these words can clearly see the cluster of consonants right next to one another.

3 Letter Blends examples include: scr, spl, spr, squ, and str.

scrshrsplsprsqustrthr
screamshredsplashspraysquishstrumthree
scriptshreiksplitspreesquarestrawthrow
screwshrubsplatsprintsquidstrongthreat
screenshrinespleenspringsquashstripthroat

πŸ‘‰ Some blends can include a digraph. For example, the word shriek includes the digraph sh along with the consonant r.

These two sounds together form a consonant blend. Examples of blends with a digraph include: shr and thr.

A photograph of the printable word list with consonant blends organized by blend.

πŸ“ƒ Word List & Examples

Get this word list freebie where all blends are listed with examples! This one page freebie with 183 consonant blend words is great for so many things!

πŸ§πŸΌβ€β™‚οΈ I especially like to use it for the auditory portion of my 3-part drill. For example, if I’m focused on initial R-blends, I’ll grab this worksheet and dictate a word from the r-blend column.

Kids listen for the blend they hear in the word and write the blend only. They should say the blend as they write it “B-R says /br/.”

πŸ’› We love using it for the auditory portion of the lesson because kids don’t need to know advanced phonics skills in order to be able to practice with blends.

Remember, if you’re doing word dictation, be sure to only use words that include phonics features you’ve taught!

Title: "Teaching Consonant Blends" with a pointer pointing to the image of the consonant cluster word list.

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Consonant Blend Words List 490.07 KB 5208 downloads

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6 Comments

    1. Hi Karen,
      It’s been corrected. Please feel free to download it again for the updated version. We are glad you are finding it useful.
      Katie & Laura

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