The initial sounds in these words, j, tr, dr, and ch are called affricates. Many teachers have never heard of this term, despite the fact that these letter combinations are often confusing for young children. It may seem perplexing to us, but these sounds are made in a certain location in the mouth, which leads to them being easily confused.
Look at your students’ authentic writing. You may see words such as chrip for trip, jran for train, or even jiv for drive. We can understand the vowel changes in these words but we may wonder why the consonant substitutions are occurring. When teachers (and families) know about affricates, these types of errors are easily fixed.
We suggest placing little toys around the room, as our pictures indicate. Children will wonder what you are up to! You can hand out jellybeans as treats, as further incentive to talk about affricates.
You can have children sort pictures according to their initial sound. For example, include pictures of a dress, dragon, drum, train, tray, truck, chimney, chain, chin, jar, jet, and jump. Children place these in columns according to the sound they hear. For children who make many errors with affricates, begin by having them compare pictures of only two letter/letter combinations, such as j with tr. I add the other letters as children progress.
In our experience up to a third of emerging readers confuse these sounds. If affricates are not understood, teachers and families are easily confused as to why these substitutions are occurring. If we can’t identify the cause, we can’t fix the errors.
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