Learning and practicing blending, segmenting, and phoneme manipulation is essential for student reading. Let’s take a quick look at these reading and phonics skills — and how to practice them!
Blending is being able to push sounds together to build words. For example, /m/ /a/ /t/ = mat.
Segmenting is the ability to be able to pull apart individual sounds in words. For example: mat: /m/ /a/ /t/.
Phoneme manipulation means inserting and deleting sounds in words. Students need this skill to test alternatives for spellings that represent more than one sound.
Examples of manipulation include saying sat without the s or changing the middle sound in bat to make a new word, like bit.
Regular practice of these phonics skills helps students read. This practice may come in phonics or reading lessons. Even 10–15 minutes a day can make a difference. Students may get additional practice during classroom writing time as well. Students also benefit from home practice to help them review and consolidate what you’ve worked on in the classroom.
Some of my favorite activities for practicing blending, segmenting, and phoneme manipulation are:
- Eye Spy, Listen for Sounds — Simply say, “I see a ‘mug,’ what’s the first sound you hear in the word mug.” Hold the first sound to emphasize it to younger children. Think of short 3-letter words that have a consonant, vowel and consonant (CVC), such as sun, sat, sit, mat, man, map, log and nap. Then practice with middle or end sounds. For example, say, “I spy a mmmuuugg.” Students need to blend the sounds together to identify the word.
- Simon Says — Play the game in the usual way, but say some of the instruction words in broken down sounds so your students have to blend them to know what they need to do. For example, “Simon says t-a-p your l-e-g.” or “S-i-t down.”
- Say the Sounds — Collect objects that the children are familiar with in a bag. Choose objects with 3 phonemes (sounds) that are CVC words (examples: mug, sock, hat, duck, pen). One child chooses an item without showing it to the class. That child segments by saying the name of the object as separate sounds (/d/ /u/ /ck/). The other students practice blending the sounds together to guess the object.
In addition, activities such as Tap It, Map It, Zap It, jumbled sentences, missing sound activity sheets, find the word, and fluency boards can help students with phonics skills and knowledge. And I have one more game to share with you.
Practice phonics skills with read and roll game
To play Read and Roll, students need a game board, counters and a playing die. The Read and Roll game board should focus on the specific kinds of words students are learning, such as CVC words or th digraph words.
Players take turns rolling the die and moving their counter. Players must read the word they land on aloud. Clear and correct pronunciation is important. The first one to the end wins.
Read and Roll games aren’t complex. That makes them perfect for a 10–15 minute daily practice. They are also infinitely adaptable. Simply choose words that are appropriate for your student’s level and what you are focusing on in class. You can even have students make their own game board. This gives them practice in writing words as well as speaking them.
I’ve put together Read and Roll Games – and many other phonics activities – in a Print & Go Phonics Homework pack. You can get a sample now—that’s two weeks of phonics home practice ready to print and send home with students.