As educators or parents, it’s important to teach young learners the basics of reading and comprehension. Once a student has learned how to recognize and vocalize the alphabet, it’s time to move on to blending! Although there are different ways to teach blending, some learners may still struggle with concept comprehension.
Blending is the ability to compound two or more sounds into a comprehensive word and the ability to recognize and vocalize letters on their own to say a complete word. Some tips on teaching blending include knowing the basics of using sound boxes, speeding it up, and starting simple.
You may have a child or student who cannot grasp blending as quickly as some of the other students. Alternatively, you may want to learn inclusive teaching methods that will cater to every learner’s existing capability. Either way, we’ve got some great tips and tricks for you to use in your classroom!
If you want to jump ahead to the resources then you can click here 🙂
Teaching Blending To Kids
Blending in phonics refers to two learned skills that can help learners improve their reading speed and spelling skills.
The first skill refers to the ability to say a word after hearing at least three distinct sounds. For example, if a learner hears their teacher say “s-a-d,” then they need to respond with the complete word “sad.”
The second skill refers to the ability to see a word, spell it out, and then compound the sounds and say the word out loud. For example, if you show a learner the word “dog,” they will need to split the word up “d-o-g” and then say the word in its entirety – “dog.”
You will need to keep in mind several things when teaching blending to young learners. Our tips and tricks will aid you in encouraging your learner and boosting their confidence in the classroom.
Why Teach Letter and Sound Blending To Kindergarten and Grade 1.
Allow us a few moments to explain why Sound blending is such a vital step in a young readers journey to literacy.
In kindergarten students are often, superfluously (more on that later) taught the names of the letter of the Alphabet before, or more often, instead of the sounds of the English language. Although this is in someway understandable it is not in our opinion the most effective way of teaching reading.
English language is written with letters but it is spoken with sounds. The first step of learning is speaking, followed by basic reading and as we, and others much more authoritative than us, mention the majority of language is going to be learnt while reading. The majority of communication is going to done by speaking. So lets focus a little on those skills before we get onto spelling.
That’s why we feel learning word construction, at the most basic level, is a skill that can be introduced very early. The first step of that is to learn the sounds of English.
this does not mean introduce all 44-46 sounds of english in a week, but teaching students that letters have both a name and a sound is a concept that while more tricky that just the alphabet song on repeat, will give much better results in terms of their reading knowledge and importantly their confidence.
Now we will be writing an article on this is due course as this article is to long already, but if you give students the tools to decode and construct their own words by sound blending and word construction you have opened up their world to one where they can use actual skills to improve their own learning.
An aim not devoid of merits we think.
In the article below you will find tips and resources to help you achieve this. We hope its useful.
How to Teach Sound Blending to Kindergarten Students
1. The Basics Of Blending
Every learning concept can expand on a learner’s existing knowledge. Ideally, these concepts will compound to create an understanding of a subject or skill. But, without the building blocks – or basics – of the required skill, they won’t be able to keep up with other learners in the classroom.
The basics of blending include several skills the learner will need to master before they can blend properly.
These skills include recognizing and sounding out the letters of the alphabet, vocalizing the sounds quickly enough to help them compound them into a word, and comprehending how to put these sounds together correctly.
Firstly, learners should know how to recognize and vocalize a letter. When you show a learner the word “sun,” they should be able to recognize that the word is made up of three letters – “s-u-n.” Similarly, they should be able to sound out each letter and be aware that each letter also has a sound.
Then, your learner will need to be able to read at a moderate speed to help them blend the word more quickly. Remember – every learner has their own learning pace! If they take too long to recognize a letter and sound it out, they may not be ready for blending just yet.
Lastly, the learner will need to know how to blend these letters. So when they see the word “dad,” they can put the sounds “d-a-d” together correctly so that it sounds like “dad.”
2. Use Sound Boxes
Sound boxes are boxes that contain a single letter and are placed together to form a word. The sides of each box split the word.
Sound boxes help learners split up their words without getting confused or blending their words and letters too quickly. For example, if you are teaching them the word “mat,” then you would use the sound boxes to split up each letter:
These boxes simplify reading each letter and help kids separate their sounds in a more straightforward, visual representation. When learners separate their sounds, they are able to keep their focus on one letter at a time. You can also use sight cards placed in a row in front of the learner.
3. Speed It Up
Some learners may find that staggered vocals make it harder for them to compound the letters into full, coherent words. If a child struggles with staggering letters, they may benefit from having the sounds sped up. You can try speeding up every sound with a beat, a clap, or your hand movements.
For example, the word “cat” is typically sounded out as “c-a-t.” However, this may seem choppy and make it more difficult for learners to follow. Instead, try to shorten the pause between sounds or lengthen them all together.
The word “sun” will then end up sounding like “ssssuuuunnnn” rather than “s-u-n.” Alternatively, instead of saying “s – (pause) – u – (pause) – n,” it would simply be “s (short pause) u (short pause) n.”
Using beats or claps when a learner sounds their letters out can also help them keep a rhythm and improve their ability to sound a word out. It is often overlooked but the rhythm of English really helps younger learners put sounds together correctly and coherently. .
4. Start Simple, Then Move On
When educators and parents start teaching blending, they are eager to jump straight into blending words that are made up of three letters, like “mom.” If a child or learner is struggling, you don’t have to give up! Instead, you can start with words that are made up of two letters, like “up,” “no,” and “on.”
After practicing two-letter words, you can assess whether you can promote the learner to three-letter words. It’s important to remember that some learners take slightly longer to comprehend a concept, and blending is no different. In these instances, patience is key!
The Dangers of Teaching the Alphabet letter names
We will have a large article on this in due course and while not a warning to not teach the alphabet letter names it is some advice on using it alongside other more skill focussed letter tasks as well. In Brief these are the reasons why.
- Learning the Alphabet letters gives early confidence, but then has to be adapted later.
- English Phonemes, (sounds) are not the same as the names of the letters in the alphabet (mostly)
- this means learning those Alphabet letter names, then has to be adapted to learning the sounds those letters represent later. this is both confusing and time consuming.
- Learning the names of the alphabet it primarily a spelling aid later on not a reading aid early on.
There are more reasons to approach Alphabet songs, activities and resources with caution but as we mentioned we are putting together a larger article on this and will post here when completed.
So below we will highlight some ways to both teaching those phonemes ( letter sounds) and how to blend these sounds together as a reading skill for emergent and beginner readers. It is one of the most important steps in reading skills.
Activities to Teach Sound blending.
Sound blending is a skill, and skills are learnt through practice. The memorization of the Alphabet while useful for spelling is simply that the memorization of 26 letter names. it is also not particularly useful when teaching reading skills. We have a brief note on that below.
Below we have a few examples of both shorter and longer activities you can introduce into your kindergarten and grade 1 classrooms to help teach sound blending.
We find that little and often work better than trying to keep them focussed for hours at a time and as we said skills take time, and practice so our advice is to try to use some blending practice every day where possible.
Sound Blending activities: Alphabet Sounds song.
We have used this for years in our classroom. it is both fun and educational useful and really helps young readers understand that the Alphabet song they learnt in preschool and Kindergarten has more to it.
it simply makes a song out of the alphabet sounds, and if your young readers are struggling with remembering the sounds of the Alphabet letters it is both a great reminder and a great introduction. They will be singing along in no time!
Sound Blending activities: Online Sound Blending Games.
If you have the means, by means we mean whiteboards, tablets, computers or similar, then interactivity, especially in todays world is a great motivator for young children. As is of course playing games.
We design and make phonics games you can play for free and thousands of people weekly use these in classrooms all over the USA and the World. We have simple phonics CVC ( three letter phonics words) games and ones that can be progressional moving on to more complex phonics as needed.
We also have “the best of the rest” articles to check out as well if ours don’t fit your needs. We will highlight our CVC ones, our progressional phonics skills games and then an article that highlights other Sound blending games below.
However we have about 20 games on the site here you can take a look at, and many more articles where we researched the best verbs, sentence, phonics, vowels etc etc games for classrooms, which are all free.
Sound Blending Activities: CVC Scramble
You can click the link below to go to the gameplay page, it is a very simple game suitable for younger readers where you tap the letter to move the sound and spell the word. it is designed to be quick to allow for multiple children to get the chance to play in a classroom.
Sound Blending Activities: Word Hop and Pop
We made this to be more professional and included the words being read out loud by a child to help students and young readers listen and recognise the word as it is read an the sounds inside it. It has multiple topics including phonics sounds, vowels, cvc words and goes up to multiple syllable words. it is our most popular game.
Sound Blending Activities: CVC Maker and Generator
We made this to be able to quickly practice reading skills and sound blending skills with students of all ages but especially young students. A simple one button game that mixes up letter to make real and nonsense CVC words for students to try to blend together to read.
it is the most effective app we have and can be played as a whole class.
Printable Sound Blending activities
We are aware that not all classrooms have access to the technology they should. On our site we have a LARGE selection of worksheets, games and activities to help with this that are printable (laminatable!) for classrooms without access to white boards and tablets.
below you will find three examples, we have hundreds, of sound blending games, worksheets and activities that can be used to practice this vital reading skill. You can search here if you want or need more.
Sound Blending Activities: Printable Board Games
We have two to choose from below, you can use them any way you wish but each does come with instructions.
Soundopoly: This has multiple versions and you can check out the page for how to use to teach sound blending on the link below.
Lady Bug Board game:This also has multiple version to download and print to help you teach sound blending skills. Includes alphabet sounds, CVC and even onset and Rime.
There are different phonics skills version of both of these.
Sound blending Activities: Connect Four Sound blending and Practice.
A simple roll the dice activity to try to get four in a row ( like the old game) Students have to read the word and get it correct to cover it. Video Instructions included.
Sound Blending Worksheets and Printables
There are literally hundreds of thes eon the site. So we just have 2 as an example and you can search for Phonics, or reading to find more or click here to see them all.
Roll and Color: Student simply rolls the dice to find a word, reads it and colors it till complete.
Finally these are useful to put on students tables to be able to do quick whole class spot the word, or sound out the word activities. If there are copies on each desk then the teacher can say a word and ask for the students to find the word and sound it out. At beginner levels the teacher can ask for the first sound, or the vowel sound or any other combination to help teach sound blending.
We have so many of these type of activities on the site it is impossible to put them all on one page. If you would like to browse through our free sound blending resources you can go through them all, and other English and Phonics resources here.
Blending refers to the ability to see a simple word, split it up into letters, and then compound and vocalize the word in its entirety. If you’re starting with blending for the first time, you can also sound the letters out for the learner. They will then respond by saying the complete word you have sounded out.
Young learners benefit from blending as a way to improve their reading, comprehension, memory, and writing skills.