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.
Table of Contents
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
🥤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.
👌 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.
Blends Versus Digraphs
You might be wondering: What is the difference between blends and digraphs?
👉 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.)
👉 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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
Final Consonant Blend Words
Ending blends are sorted into these categories: Ending T Blends, Ending L Blends, and Others ending 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:
*Note that -xt actually has three sounds, since the /ks/ sound of x has two phonemes.
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:
Other Ending Blends
Other Ending Blends include -nd, -nk, -sk, -sp, and -mp. Below are some other ending blend word examples:
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.
👉 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.
📃 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!
🧏🏼♂️ 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/.”
💛 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!
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