Teaching Resource

Beginning Digraphs Sorting Activity

PDF, Google Slides | 7 pages|Grades: 1 - 2

Practice decoding words by their initial digraphs with a set of 20 picture sorting cards.

Practicing initial word sounds opens the reading floodgates for teaching students how to decode unfamiliar words. 

But sometimes initial sounds in words aren’t just 1 letter. 

Sometimes, they’re 2. We call these initial digraphs (or beginning digraphs)—2 letter combinations that make 1 sound, like ch, th, sh, and wh

With our Initial Digraphs sorting activity, students will analyze picture cards, determine the word each represents, and sort the picture card under 1 of 4 total digraphs mats.  

How Students Learn About Beginning Digraphs While They Play

This resource can be used as a reading center activity, with your guided reading group, or as a full class activity to practice decoding words with initial digraphs.

To play the students will identify the picture, decode the word to identify the digraph, and sort it under the correct digraph mat.

Turn Our Beginning Digraphs Game into More Learning Activities! 

We’ve thought long and hard about it, and we think that this game can actually be put to a LOT of great use.😉  Check out these initial digraph spelling activities that get your whole class or small group engaged and playing along!

Show Me!

This game can be done as a whole-class review activity or with a small group of students. Give each student a mini dry-erase board and a dry-erase marker. Project all 4 of the digraphs and 1 of the picture cards on the screen and have your students write the digraph for the word in the picture on their board. When everyone has written down their answer, say “Show Me”. Students will flip their boards and this allows you to easily see who needs extra support with this skill.

Write the Room (Scoot Activity)

Hang sheets of chart paper around the room and post a digraph above each one. Individually, or with a partner, have students rotate around the room adding one word that begins with that blend/digraph. Words may be used only once.

Knock Off

Have your students stand up and make a line across the room. Project a picture card on the screen and use our Random Name Picker widget to draw a student’s name to answer. If the student correctly identifies the initial digraph, they tap the person either to their left or right with their elbow. The person who is tapped must return to their seat. If the student answers the card incorrectly, they must sit out. Play continues until there is only 1 student standing.

Change the Difficulty Level if Needed

After sorting all the cards correctly, have students put the cards in alphabetical order, or sort the cards by the number of syllables in each word. 

If students are having trouble decoding the digraphs in each word, encourage the use of a visual reminder in the classroom like a digraphs poster or anchor chart.

Easily Prepare This Resource for Your Students

Print this game on cardstock for added durability and longevity. Place all game parts in a folder or large envelope for easy access. 

Before You Download

Use the drop-down icon on the Download button to choose between the PDF or Google Slides version of this resource. An answer key is also included with this download.

This resource was created by Lindsey Phillips, a teacher in Michigan and a Teach Starter Collaborator. 

If you’ve got a phonological awareness curriculum, then we’ve got activities, worksheets, and more to help you teach it! Check out some teacher and student faves below: 


  Common Core Curriculum alignment

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