After your student has mastered the alphabetic principle, the next step in learning to read is beginning blending. This means pushing all of the sounds together in a word to create the whole word without pausing. For example, reading the word ‘bat’ as /bbaatt/ instead of /b/…./a/…../t/. Beginning blending is a really important step in learning to read, and therefore must be taught to a student explicitly. How do you teach beginning blending? Here are some tips and strategies on how to teach beginning blending to your student.
Teaching Letters and Sounds in Isolation
Before you begin teaching your student beginning blending, you will want to make sure that they know all of the letters and sounds in the alphabet.
Want to test it? Show your student a lower case letter card and ask him/her to say the name of the letter and the sound that it makes.
Say, “When I hold up a letter, say the letter’s name, and give its sound.”
Does your student not have this step mastered? Then you will need to first backtrack and start there. Teach each letter and sound in isolation first, before you begin teaching beginning blending.
See my previous post: How to Teach Letters and Sounds
You will want to start out by showing your student the difference between choppy and fluent reading. This helps your student understand why they need to blend the sounds together in the first place.
You can have your student first say some sounds slowly and stretched out, then say the same sounds at a quicker speed. This way when the student starts to blend words, you can remind them that we read the words quickly and not stretched out.
Teacher: “Say mmmaaannnn.” (The word man stretched out slowly.)
Student repeats “mmmaaannn.”
Teacher: “Now say it quickly.”
Student says “man.”
Repeat this activity with the following words:
hit, tub, pig, jet, hen, ham, fox, bus, rat
Teach Beginning Blending
When your student is ready to begin blending the letters together to form words, you will need a set of letter/sound cards. You can make these by writing each lowercase letter on a separate index card. Then split the letter/sound cards into three piles:
In the left pile place the letters:
c, f, g, h, j, k, l, r, s, w, y, z
In the middle pile place the letters:
a, e, i, o, u
In the right pile place the letters:
b, d, m, n, p, t, v, x
Have your student point to each Sound Card with their pointer finger from left to right and say the sound aloud while pointing to it. They will then swipe their finger from left to right (under the letters) while blending the sounds into a word.
You will flip the cards from the different columns to make different combinations.
Most of the words that your student blends will be nonsense words. Reading nonsense words is really important because if your student can read unfamiliar words, it shows that they are not memorizing words but are actually using beginning blending skills.
Would you like to see how this blending activity looks like in action? Check out this short video:
If your student is having difficulties with blending together three sounds, you can simplify the task by just using two sounds – a consonant and just one vowel. Use the easiest consonant sounds first: f, l, m, n, r, s, v, z. Also, stick with just one vowel at a time. Use the same vowel over and over again until the student is comfortable.
I Have a Reading Program For You!
Thank you for reading my post today. You might also enjoy reading my previous posts:
Please don’t leave without checking out the PRIDE Reading Program. The PRIDE Reading Program is an Orton-Gillingham curriculum that is used by teachers, tutors, and homeschooling parents worldwide with great success.
Karina Richland, M.A., is the author of the PRIDE Reading Program, a multisensory Orton-Gillingham reading, writing, and comprehension curriculum that is available worldwide for parents, tutors, teachers, and homeschoolers of struggling readers. Karina has an extensive background in working with students of all ages and various learning modalities. She has spent many years researching learning differences and differentiated teaching practices. You can reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at www.pridereadingprogram.com