Consonant clusters or blends are two or three consonants that appear together in a word with each consonant retaining its sound when blended. The term cluster refers to the written form and the term blend refers to the spoken form.
The major categories of consonant clusters are :
3 letter clusters
Consonant clusters can be taught as soon as children have learnt to read the single consonant sound-spellings.
The r-blends - br, cr, dr, fr, gr, pr, tr.
The s-blends - sc, sk, sl, sm, sn, sp, st, sw.
l-blends: bl, cl, fl, gl, pl.
Ending blends: ct, ft, ld, lp, lt, mp, nd, nk, nt, pt, rd, rk, sk, sp, st.
The consonant blends sounds are very reliable. But there can be exceptions. For example, the blend 'sc' can stand for the /sk/ sound as in 'scare' or the /c/ can be silent as in 'science'.
Teaching the consonant blends:
Write these set of words on individual cards. Underline the consonant cluster in every word. Bring your child's attention to the set of letters that needed to be spelt together or blended. Read aloud the first few words with him. Once he is comfortable reading individual words and recognizes the blending pattern, encourage him to read the story under your supervision.
Repeat this exercise daily. Next week, we shall study the different blends or consonant clusters and shall read small stories based on them.
Till then, happy blending.