Phoneme blending refers to the skill we use that helps us read, particularly when we encounter a word that is seemingly difficult to read or any unfamiliar words.

This skill is essential for little children who are just learning to read because they are more prone to unfamiliarity with new words. Phoneme blending involves masking the different sounds of all the letters in the word to create a whole sound which is what the word is pronounced as.

In this article, we will take a look at what phoneme blending is, how it is taught and some activities with phoneme blending examples.



How is phoneme blending taught?

Phoneme blending might sound like a difficult skill, but it is pretty easy if there’s enough practice. This skill is critical in children just learning to read because it is one of the vital elements that help develop oral skills.

Experts recommend the best way to teach phoneme blending to kids is through activities. You don’t have to wait for the child to learn every single letter sound before you start teaching them blending. You can start with a few basic sounds that the child already knows and combine some easy ones.

A standard take on phoneme blending activities for children starts with teaching them certain sounds, for example, the sounds of S, P, M, D, A, N, and T. After the child understands and can voice these sounds, you can proceed to teach them simple combinations like PAN, MAD, SAT, etc.



Types of phoneme blending


Oral blending:

Which is the first slip of phoneme blending that kids are taught. They orally learn how to say the words after hearing the word’s sound.


Blending for reading:

This involves teaching kids the skill of making sounds out of the groups of letters they see on print.

Teaching oral blending is much easier than blending for reading. You can use puppets and toys to teach your kids different sounds and make them repeat them after you.

You can ask them to point to a particular picture when you say the word “hat” or “shoes,” which represents what the word means.




Phoneme blending activities


1. Finish my sentence

The first activity is called FINISH MY SENTENCE. When you start the training, you should already have a list of different sentences. The end of each sentence should have a word that is easily blendable for the child. For example, three letter words like “Pen” or four-letter words like “book.”

Make sure you use simple sentences that the child can orally understand, such as:

  • I gave him my b/o/o/k
  • This is my p/e/n
  • John has a c/a/t
  • Mary sat on the b/u/s


As the activity begins, tell the child what is going to happen. You will read out a sentence, but you need them to complete the sentence. When you reach the last word of the sentence, read out the letters. For example, in the first sentence in the above examples, you say, “I gave him my b/o/o/k” Ask the child, “What did I give him?” This will make them think of the letters B/o/o/k and try to voice them as a combined word.

If they are having trouble, voice it out for them once and repeat the same sentence in the same manner until the child can finally comprehend what B/O/O/K sounds like.

Once the child knows how to voice out all the words, you can ask them to develop their sentences.



2. Slow Motion

This is also another activity that encourages children to learn the blending of words by repeating what they hear but in a shorter version.

You can use your child’s name or any other word but stretch it out in a long, drawn-out, slow motion. Voice out every syllable of the word so that every sound change is audible to the child.

Ask your child to repeat after you. Or tell you what they heard. It is best to start with their names since it’s the most familiar words.

Once they can identify their name, you can use different words that they might be unfamiliar with. Make sure that you positively reinforce your child for guessing the right words through praises to encourage the same behavior through learning phoneme blending.



3. Elkonin boxes

In this activity, the children have to touch each of the boxes and make a part of the word. Then slowly, they combine the sounds to form the completed word. These boxes can be used for segmenting as well.



4. The suitcase game

Another innovative way to teach children phoneme blending is by playing the suitcase game. The game’s plot tells the children that you are packing a suitcase to go on an adventure, and you need their help packing your bag.

So have a few words about travel prepared for this activity, such as pants, brush, shoes, socks, etc.

Start the game by telling them that you will be away from home for a few days. You will need a pair of p/a/n/t/s. Now ask the children, “What do I need to pack?” Then they can voice out the word from the letters, “p/a/n/t/s.”

Or you can get creative and make your own scenarios. For example, you can tell them that you forgot to pack some things, but you need help remembering what items you forgot to pack.

Now, you take the suitcase and tell them what items you have already packed by forming sentences like, “The first thing in my suitcase is a pair of p/a/n/t/s.” Now you can ask the class what the item is if they are successful in voicing what “p/a/n/t/s” stands for. You pull out the pair of pants in your bag and show it to them, acknowledging that they were right.

You can continue this with a few more items such as brushes, shoes, hats, etc. Once you’ve exhausted all the items in your bag, you can continue to ask the class, “What did I forget to pack?”

Give them prompts and clues such as “Oh, I think I forgot to pack my s/o/c/k/s” You can continue the game until the children learn how to pronounce all the essential words.



5. Blending Boards

If you are looking for a more hands-on activity to reach phoneme blending in your life, Blending boards are great. You can make sure of different cards that contain graphs and letters to make it easier to learn the skill.

For example, if you are trying to teach the word “BOOK,” use one card that has the letters “BO” and “OK” so that the words are represented through graphemes and not as individual letters. This is more advanced than the previous techniques.



6. The riddle game

Like any riddle game, you ask a question to the class and get them to answer it by giving them hints with the word’s letters.

The riddle doesn’t have to be complicated. You can go for basic knowledge for kids, such as, “I am an animal that lives in the water. What am I?” Then give them a prompt like, “I am a f/i/s/h,” and make them voice out the word “fish.”

You can do this with multiple themes such as animals, birds, stationery, etc. It’s a very innovative way to teach them phoneme blending and new knowledge.



7. Sound Blending

Choose a book that the children like; possibly a picture book. Once you know the story, you can make a note of all the critical words that are in the picture book. For example, the character’s name, if there are any animals, the place or location, and the surroundings in the prominent pictures.

When you read the book, sit next to your child and ask them to help you read it. Stretch out the sounds of certain words and ask the child to read them out for you properly.

For example, you can say, “Once upon a time, there was a dddddd-ooooo-gggg,” and then ask your child to say the word in a shorter, non-stretched-out version.

Repeat this for certain parts of the book with keywords that are easy to grasp for first-time learners.




Techniques of phoneme blending:


Isolated blending

Isolated blending is a type of phoneme blending that involves saying the first letter very loudly so that it is heavily emphasized. In contrast, the rest of the sounds of the remaining letters are pronounced softer.



Continuous or successive blending 

In this blending, you stretch out the words to more extended versions of the word and make it a continuous sound rather than a word that sounds cut off in every syllable or letter.

This is great for kids who are re-learning blending but are having a hard time creating continuous sounds from a string of different letters.



Blending Cards

These cards have different words for the kids to learn with a dot and a line under every letter that connects to the following letter.

The children can use their fingers to guide them physically to the following letter of the word so they can create a continua sound from the broken-up word.




Tips to effectively teach phoneme blending


Develop phonological awareness

You need to know what to expect when teaching phoneme blending to kids. For example, if you are teaching the word “mop,” you need to know that the child should:

  • Be able to recognize the letters of the alphabet
  • Read the sounds from the left-hand side to the right-hand side
  • Voice out the sounds quickly as soon as they hear them from the speaker
  • Remember the 3 differed sounds of the word M O P to create a continuous sound



Practice the sounds with visuals first and then without the visuals

When you first teach phoneme blending to a child, it is easier if you use visual aids such as blending cards or pictures that signify what the word is. This is because even though they cannot read, they are already good at viewing and speaking, so their brains can determine what it is and what the word should sound like.

When the child improves with visual aids, you can remove them from the activities and try to make them sound the words by just listening to the letters.



Incorporate movement in the blending skill learning classes

When it comes to children, you need to be creative in how you impart information and knowledge to them. In part, adding physical actions to words makes it easier for them to understand and repeat what has been taught.

For example, ask your students to extend one arm and touch their shoulder when they make one sound from the word. For the next sound, they touch their elbow, and for the third sound, they touch their wrist.

In this way, they can use the actions to combine the sound and voice it out.

For example, if the word is “TOP,” they will touch their shoulder when the T sound is made, touch the elbows when the O sound is made, and finally touch their wrists when the P sound is produced.



When teaching them how to blend, don’t make too many breaks between sounds

The more space you leave between sounds when teaching them how to blend phonemes, the more trouble the child is likely to have when combining the sounds.

The closer the sounds, the easier it is to quickly sound out the whole word. It is better to use the slow-motion activity to reach the sounds instead of breaking the word up into letters. For example, instead of “P/O/T,” you can make it sound like “pppppooooottttt.”



Start small and build up to bigger words

It is best to start with a little word sound and move on to more significant terms as you process the skill training.

It is easier to teach two sounds rather than 3 sounds. For example, “at, on, of,” etc., and then move on to words like “pot, mud, top,” etc.




What’s the difference between segmenting and blending?

Blending is an essential skill that you need to be able to read words while segmenting is a skill used when writing. 

When it comes to blending, you have to combine different sounds, called phonemes, to create the whole sound of the word. On the other hand, segmenting involves the opposite process of splitting up the words into phonemes.





It might sound basic for many adults, but for children, these are skills that they have never learned to do, so it can get tricky for some kids to learn phoneme blending.

The key is patience. Every kid has different learning methods, so you cannot expect everyone to learn at the same pace. If you find some children particularly struggling to master the skill, you may need to cross-examine them with professionals who can conduct tests to know their intellectual capabilities.




Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *