Over the past few weeks we’ve been delving into books, reading and how we can better teach children to read and spell.
Now that we’ve found some good quality decodable books, let’s get into the specifics of how we go about teaching kids to read and spell.
What skills do we need to be able to read and spell?
When teaching children to read and spell it’s important to not only teach them about the code (or conceptual knowledge), but also teach them the skills they need to help them succeed at reading and spelling.
The 3 essential skills needed in order to decode the English language include blending, segmenting and manipulation.
Over the next three weeks I’m going to give you lots of activities that you can use to develop these three skills.
Today we’re specifically looking at the skill of blending and how we can teach our kids this vital skill.
What is blending?
Blending is being able to push sounds together to build words. For example, /s/ /a/ /t/ = sat (Sounds~Write, 2013).
Here are 6 helpful activities and ideas you can use to teach your students the skill of blending.
1. Listening for sounds in words
This is a great activity to use with younger children who are just starting out with the concept of reading.
When my little girl was about three I used this activity whenever we were driving or at the dinner table. For example, when we were driving I would say, “I see the ‘sun’, what’s the first sound you hear in the word sun?”
When starting out with activities such as this it’s important to choose words that start with a sound that can be held, such as the /s/ in sun. You may also need to really hold the first sound to emphasise it to younger children.
When children are able to identify the initial sound, then move on to try the end and middle sounds. Again, sun is good to use as you can hold the final sound to emphasise it. Other words that you might like to try could include: sat, sit, mat, man, map, nap. Think of short 3 sound words that have a consonant, vowel and consonant (CVC).
2. I spy with my little eye
You can also play games like ‘I-spy’ with younger students. Pick an item in the classroom, such as the mat. Then say: “I spy with my little eye a m-a-t.” Your students need to then blend the sounds together to tell you the item.
When you first start out with oral blending activities some of your students may find it hard to hear the word. In that case hold each of the sounds a little bitter longer and don’t have a pause between each sound.
3. Talking in sounds
This is quite similar to I spy, but you provide some of your instructions to students in sounds (rather than the words). For example, “come and s-i-t on the mat.”
You could also start to say your student’s names in sounds. For example, “S-a-n-d-y go and get your pencils.”
4. Simon says
Playing the game ‘Simon says’ is always so much fun. Play the game in the usual way, but for the instruction say the word in its sounds so your students blend them to work out what they need to do.
For example, “Simon says p-a-t your b-a-ck.” or “S-i-t down.”
If any of the students do the instruction but you didn’t say ‘Simon says’ then those students are out of the game.
5. Partner blending
Have a list of words that you want your students to practice. These could be VC words or CVC words.
Say the sounds for one of the words. For example, s-a-t. Then have one student in the partners tell the other student what the word is. Select another word from your list, again say the sounds for the word but this time the other student tells their partner the word.
6. Matching the word and picture
To extend the above activity, you can introduce a matching activity. Have a list of word cards and matching pictures. Select one word card, point to each sound (saying the sounds as you point) on the word card. Get your students to blend the sounds to tell you the word.
Then have a student come to the board and pick the matching picture to go with the word.
You could also allow your students to come to the board, point to the sounds as they say it, blend the word to read it and then find the matching picture.
I hope these ideas have given you a few more ways that you can develop the skill of blending. Stay tuned for next week, where I’ll be sharing some more ideas for teaching the skill of segmenting.
If you’re after additional activities and ideas for teaching blending, then check out the resources below.
Resources for teaching blending
If you’re still feeling overwhelmed with knowing the best way to help your students with their phonics, so that they can become successful readers and spellers, then have a look at:
This 1100+ page kit focuses on helping children develop the fundamental skills of blending and segmenting to help them become fluent readers and accurate spellers. As a lifelong tool this kit is designed to bring inspiration and innovation to your teaching again and again as you continue to use it in the coming months and years.
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