Skip to content

Step 2: 4h Digraphs (th sh ch wh) & Blends

4h Brothers th, sh, wh, ch poster
4h Brothers wh, sh, ch, th
Beginning blends poster
Beginning Blends
Ending Blends Poster
End Blends

Teaching icon Teach Teaching icon 2


Blends and 4h Digraphs Definitions:
Blends are 2 or 3 consonants whose sounds blend together, yet retain each individual sound.
4h Brothers are the digraphs ch, th, wh, sh. Each digraph makes a unique single sound.
Digraphs are two letters that make one sound like -ng, -nk, kn, gn, ph, wr, -mb, -mn

– Trigraphs are three letters representing one sound like -dge, -tch

The Blends and 4h Brothers (th, sh, ch, wh) need to be recognized automatically.  Learning the blends also helps students begin to read in chunks (rather than letter by letter).  This will help later when breaking big words into syllables. Add the 4h brothers to the letters in the sounds pack you are practicing every day! 

Teaching Videos and Written Stories

Teaching Videos:

Learn the 4h brothers th sh wh ch
Learn the beginning blends
For teachers: teaching blends and using the PowerPoint

Written Stories:

PowerPoints and Google Slides PowerPoints for teaching short vowel words CVC Google Slides Icon

For the formatting of PowerPoints to be correct, click FILE, then DOWNLOAD, and download in Microsoft PowerPoint.

Teach Along the Way with Blends & 4h: th sh ch wh Teach along the way with short vowels


Teach and add the relevant sounds (th, sh, ch, wh. -dge, -ng, and -nk) from the Big Sounds Pack to daily practice.

th has 2 sounds: The sound it makes in “thinker” is not voiced, and the sound it makes in “then” is voiced. If you put your fingers on your throat you can feel the vibrations when a sound is voiced.

-ng, -nk: When followed by g or k the n sounds moves to the back of the throat. This includes common chunks -ing, -ong, -ung, -ink, -onk, -unk as well as long vowel cheater chunks ank and -ang.

-dge, -tch: Vowel Protectors make sure the vowel says it’s sound. Vowel Protectors -dge (bridge) and -tch (catch)  come after a short vowel in one syllable words.

Other letter combinations with practice on this page (also in Teach Along the Way ➡︎ Unique Sounds & Situations) are kn, gn, ph, wr, -mb and -mn.

As the learner is working on the sounds for the 4h brothers and the blends, some teachers also choose to begin teaching Magic e with only cvc words!

Tips Tips

When practicing lists:

– First highlight the 4h digraph or the blend while saying its sound in these lists.  This way the learner is training their brain to quickly identify those letters together as a unit.  (If this work is difficult, the learner may choose different colors for different letter combinations, for example highlighting every /ch/ blue.

– Then go through and say the sounds of the highlighted 4h brother or digraph, pause, say the rest of the word, and then say the word as a whole.  (/sh/, /ip/, /ship/) This helps the learner train their brain to see words in chunks. 

– Finally go through the highlighted list reading the whole words! Once reading words with blends and digraphs becomes easy and quick, skip the steps and just practice with lists, games, small books etc!

Map Sounds to Letters

Map the sounds in the word to the letter(s) representing the sounds, even if it is not a letter combination that has been taught yet. Only an unusual sound/letter combination needs to be remembered “by heart.” Mapping the sounds to the letters is how we remember what words look like. See example below:

Map Sounds To Letters examples

Be sure to reinforce what you know and are learning about words, for example:
Schwa Sound: Any vowel might say /ŭ/. Point out that this happens in many common words like: the, of, was, some, from…

Key and Directions for Materials Key

Blue Heart: Beginning, grades K-1K-1 Beginning
Green Star: Growing, Grades 1-21-2 Growing
Pink Plus: intervention, challengeIntervention/Challenge

Bundle: Multiple types of materials (games, activities, stories…) bundled together.
Pack: Multiple pieces of the same type of material, for example a pack of books.

Directions for everything else:

More on the Directions Page

Sample Bundle

Sample Bundle contains samples of the stories, games, lists, flashcards, fluency pyramids, activities, spelling and more you will find in the practice section below.

Practice Reading Practice Practice Reading

Please support us by subscribing to access the practice content.

New lower pricing! Subscriptions last forever!


Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *