Do The Digraph!

Okay.  I was recently re-introduced to a childhood favorite while skimming through Netflix trying to find a movie for my boys.  Do any of y’all remember this show???

Don’t judge.

I grew up with two younger brothers and one TV in our household.  I grew to love it.  But it wasn’t until a few days ago that I realized just how awful it was.  And now I can’t get the theme song out of my head.  This has absolutely NOTHING to do with my post, except to tell you that I’m singing “Do the Digraph” to the tune of the theme song, “Do the Mario”. 

Addicting people.  Awful and addicting. You can thank me for this nostalgic reminder later.

Moving on…

There are certain things I love to teach.  I mean, I love teaching in general, but there are certain, specific things I really love teaching.  One of those is consonant digraphs.  Random?  Sure.  But I love it. 

Let’s back it up just a bit.

My first year teaching was a real eye opener.  Trying to figure out how to teach my babies EVERYTHING they needed to know before moving onto first grade seemed like the most daunting task.  I had my nose in the TEKS {for y’all non-Texas folk, that’s the Texas version of the CCSS…our state objectives} and our district provided, scripted curriculum.  I was going to follow it all to a T because, well, isn’t that what a good teacher is supposed to do??  Well, that was all wonderful and perfect on paper, but I had a classroom full of 19 Title 1 5-year-olds who all came in with different talents…different abilities…different life experiences…different home lives…different circumstances…and well…I had to change my approach to teaching almost immediately. 

I remember spending COUNTLESS hours at school.  This was all pre-marriage/kids/family of course.  But I would spend HOURS upon HOURS upon HOURS at school.  During the week.  On the weekends.  At times it felt like I was just visiting my apartment because there certainly was no trace that I was a resident {aside from the closet full of clothes and the unkempt bed}.

I loved every single minute.  I never begrudged my chosen profession because I had to work outside of my contracted hours.  I WANTED to be there.  I wanted to challenge myself to find new and exciting ways to teach to EVERYONE.  And it was hard.  That first year was pretty much trial and error…and a lot of “ohmiword…that went AWFUL!!!!!!” conversations with my mom.

I remember being STRESSED like crazy when I *finally* figured out what guided reading really was all about.  How was I supposed to get 19 kids to read when half of them couldn’t even identify the letters in their names?!  I mean, this was my FIRST teaching gig.  I didn’t want to fail. I didn’t want to let my babies down.  I couldn’t. 

As the year progressed, I realized there was nothing in the curriculum or TEKS instructing me to teach consonant digraphs.  WHA?!  Really??!  I panicked.  Would I get in trouble for teaching them??  I mean, I HAD to.  I had actually taught my kids reading strategies and they were starting to read, but my high flyers kept getting stuck on the darn digraphs.  And I was all, “BUT IT’S NOT IN THE TEKS!!!!!”  I was so dang afraid I’d get in trouble teaching something that wasn’t technically in the curriculum!  HA!

SO that’s when I took my nose out of the curriculum and started getting creative.  If I was responsible for making these kids readers, I had to do whatever was necessary.  It was shortly after that revelation that I went to Vegas with my family.  I took a few days off work and hauled some of my teaching goodies to Nevada so that I could get some work done on my solo flight.  I mean, anything to take my mind off flying, right?!

That’s when my “Digraph Kids” were born.  I’m not sure if I blogged about them before…maybe back when I was teaching first grade…but the OG’s {ahem…originals} were born on a plane ride to Vegas. I made up stories for each of them.  I drew them to life.  I couldn’t wait to get home and share them with my kids!!!  And low and behold…they LOVED them.  And it wasn’t long before the digraphs were forever ingrained in their memories.  {{Tear}}

I still have them.  And I laugh every time I pull them out of my filing cabinet.  What a hot little mess.

Digraph Kids circa 2001. I’d like to think my art skills have since improved.  HA!


digraphs16  digraphs17

I still pull these out every year…just to remember where I started.  And they still make me smile.  I have since updated their look and my kids LOVE these guys.  And I’m still surprised how well they work when trying to teach my babies to remember the digraphs!!! 

This is the time of year in Kindergarten where we really hit digraphs hard.   I know it’s not in the TEKS.  But y’all.  They’re READY.  So I’m pretty much adding digraph games and activities everywhere.  And they are LOVING it.  Here’s just a few little peeks at what we’ve been doing this week in our literacy centers/dessert tubs.

Sound challenges…

digraphs2  digraphs3

and puzzles…


a racing game or two…

digraphs6 digraphs7digraphs10

My kids like to say, “let’s vs. each other!!!!”  HA.


Don’t forget the dice games!

digraphs11  digraphs9

Build, Blend, Write, & Wipe is always a trusted favorite.digraphs14

Keeping things interactive…


Talk about taking the “in yo’ face” approach to teaching.  WHATEVER WORKS, people!!!!

I’ll be back later this week or next to share some fun whole group digraph games with you.  Maybe even a little video.  In the meantime, if you’re on the hunt for some of these digraph games and activities, you can find them in my “Delighted About Digraphs” packet of digraph fun.

Here’s a little peek at what’s included….



I’m currently hooked on Scandal.  Darn you, Netflix!  I need to get back to my “quality” tv programming.  Netflix may or may not be the demise of my productivity.  And I love it.

Have a great night!


  1. We recently discovered that same AWFUL Mario show on Netflix, too! Now my 3 year old wants to watch it all the time! oy 've! Love the digraph work, it looks amazing!
    Rowdy in Room 300

  2. I am a first year teacher, and I feel like you spoke straight from my mind! It makes me feel better to know that it is not just me feeling like everything is "trial and error." Thanks for a motivating post! : )

  3. Even though I'm in my 5th year of teaching, 3rd year in first grade, I find myself feeling the same way. I always want to be better for my lils, do more, improve strategies and activities, etc. I don't have any kids of my own yet and I'm getting married in April, so I still have the luxury of devoting extra hours. I absolutely LOVE teaching, so why not spend extra time learning and improving?! Speaking of learning, I researched the I Teach 1st conference in July and I'm SO excited!!!! I'm hoping to use some leftover wedding money to go. ;) So from the website, it seems like you pay a flat rate and then attend whatever sessions you want?? Did I read that correctly?
    LOVE your digraph packet by the way! We are knee...shoulder deep in it as well! Your pack will just be perfect!
    Tales of a #teachernerd

  4. You are amazing! I want to be you when I grow up! Nuff said... <3 You Sweet Friend!!!! :)

  5. I bought your digraph kids a couple weeks them:))!

  6. I loved reading about your first year of teaching! Our district seems to be going backwards, we are loaded down with reading, math, social studies, etc...series that we are supposed to be teaching with fidelity. Just like you, I see that those series aren't always giving my firsties what they need, so I close the door and do what's needed. ;) My firsties struggled with diagraphs (they definitely did not learn them in kdg), Iwill be checking out you unit!
    I'm Not Your Grandpa, I'm Your Teacher

  7. My son has watched those on Netflix, too! They are hilarious!! The pack looks TDF! =)
    First Grade Blue Skies

  8. Guess I will have to check the Mario show since we are stuck inside again tomorrow! Love your digraph activities!!!
    Dirt Road Teacher

  9. Hate it when I get a song stuck in my head! Love the pack!

  10. Thank-you for the reminder that it is ok to move away from the "script" to meet the needs of each individual in your classroom. My kindergarten kiddos would love this packet!

    A Very Curious Class

  11. I love Netflix randomness &I so remember Mario too!

    Your digraph unit looks so amazing- I'm excited to check it out :-)

  12. you are so right about those digraphs! they are super important! My curriculum doesn't teach consonant blends and lately i've been wondering if i should teach them. like those cr, str, etc. Also, love scandal!! good choice!

  13. How do you introduce new centers? Whole group, small group to everyone?

  14. How do you introduce new centers? Whole group, small group to everyone?

  15. You know, this post made me so happy. All of your posts make me happy, but this one hit home. Much like you, I took a position in a new school, closer to home and family, and I absolutely love my new geographic location. I'm struggling so much with our curriculum and how glued to it most of my team is. I mean, I always had curriculum before, but it was understood that you do what you need to do to allow your students to experience success and transform into readers. I'm adjusting now to a first grade team and building, that's used to just trudging through the curriculum for the sake of it. I know that by getting creative and giving my learners what they need, that I'm doing what's best for them, but your post just totally reassured me! It's just so nice to know that there are other teachers out there that are having/have had very similar experiences and made very similar decisions. Thanks a million! Have a blessed week! :) -Ashley

  16. Oh Cara I just love your blog so much. I could pin all of your ideas all day little lady. Thanks for always being inspiring!
    First Grade Fun with Mrs. Dunn

  17. You and I are on the same wave length girl(with Netflix)!!!! I am all caught up with Revenge AND Scandal!!! L.O.V.E. them both!!!!!!! Embarrassingly enough, I even bought a few of this seasons episodes off of Amazon to get caught up in real time....and then watched the rest on I've started watching The Following on Netflix - Netflix on the iPad is the only way I can get through running on the treadmill.....LOL!!! TOO BORING otherwise and I live in Illinois so we can't get outside!!! LOVE the digraph kids - gonna head over and grab them NOW!! My kids love them too - they get sooooo excited to find them when they read and when they write and tell me all about it!!!

  18. I am also very excited to check out your digraph unit! Thank you for sharing!