Making Sense of the Consonant Reading Deck from Orton Gillingham Coaching

What is a reading consonant?

A reading consonant is when you ask what sound(s) letter or letter combinations make. For example, b says /b/, it only makes that one sound. But, g can make two sounds, /g/ and /j/ as in gem.  

In comparison, spelling a sound, for example, is when you ask a student, what letter or letters makes the sound “s” and a student will say, s, c, sc, and ps all make the sound “s.”

What’s Up with This Deck?

The Pile

For the purpose of making sense of the consonant reading deck, I have phonogram cards categorized in letters that make one sound, letters that make two sounds, Digraphs, Silent Letters, and the remaining cards, which include Short Vowel Rule Cards, and other cards.

Going Through the Pile

Basic consonant sounds that make ONE SOUND

These are B, D, F, H, J, K, L, M, P, R, T, V, W, Y, Z and QU (qu is always to together in the English language so it is common to teach it as one consonant sound).

Consonants that make TWO SOUNDS

C, G, S, X, and N

First you teach the hard sounds of C & G, later the soft sounds of C & G.


Digraphs are letters which come together to make a new sound.

CH, SH, TH, WH, PH, and GH

PH is Greek

GH can be used as a silent letter combination as in GHOST or in the final position in words with -OUGH and AUGH, in words like THOUGH and LAUGH.

Silent Letter Combinations

Silent letter combinations are advanced and fall later in the scope and sequence.


Note that -LF and -LK can also be blends in some words, like self and milk, but silent in works like calf and walk.

Remaining Cards in the Consonant Reading Deck

CK, -DGE, GE, and -TCH which are found in Short Vowel Rules’

-QUE is used in French words’

-ED – a suffix that has three sounds of “t,” “d” and “ed” – for example jumped, dodged, painted. This is not advanced and is found earlier in the scope and sequence. This can be taught as a phonogram first, before teaching first suffixes.

SC – this sound depends on the letter that follows it. A SC followed by an e, i, or y, sounds like “s,” (because of the soft C&G Rule) and a SC followed by a, o, or u will have the hard “k” sound. For example, scene, will have soft c and scar will have a hard c.

-DU and -TU are advanced.

The -DU will often sound like “joo” as in graduate.

-TU usually comes at the end of words like picture and nature and it sounds like “ch.”

Ways to use the Deck

You want students to get automaticity with these cards. You want them to see the card and know the sound and keyword fast. Eventually you can drop the keyword.

You can also use these to trace and say out loud. The student should be getting a feel for these letters and while saying the sounds out loud.

You can put the cards side by side for blending.

You can say the sound and have the student choose the correct card.

Your imagination is the limit. Have fun, but get the student automatic with recognizing these cards. Be sure to use all of the Orton Gillingham approach by making your lessons kinesthetic, auditory and visual.

Final Word

What’s covered here is not the order in the scope and sequence you would teach the cards, it’s just what’s in the deck to make sense of this pile of cards. 

Decks are a cornerstone of Orton Gillingham for the multi-sensory help they provide. You can use these cards in multiple ways to see it, say it and feel it.

Product Links that contain Drill Cards:

Drill Card Book

Scope & Sequence Workbooks

Drill Card Template

Products in Video:

Sandpaper Letters, Lowercase only:

Sandpaper Letters, Uppercase & Lowercase:

*** Some links included in this description might be affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I truly appreciate your support of my channel. Thank you for watching! Video is not sponsored.

Leave a Reply