If you have students who are just at the beginning of their reading journey, blending practice is a must. Students need to learn how to blend sounds slowly together in order to read words.
One way to practice this skill is through blending cards. To start, it is a good idea to just blend 2 sounds. When students are first trying this, it is important to make sure they have the correct sound before they start blending. Have students say each of the two sounds in isolation before they begin to blend.
If students find this hard, it is important to demonstrate first. If they still continue to struggle, blend along with them – sometimes they can do it if they hear you doing it at the same time. Drawing the sounds out (almost like singing) is important when students are learning to blend.
Once students have mastered 2 sounds, move to 3. Once 3 sounds have been mastered, you can begin to add digraphs like ‘ck’, ‘sh’, and ‘ch’, or trigraphs like ‘tch’ and ‘dge’
Things to consider:
- only use patterns that you have taught – for instance, if students have only been taught Closed Syllables, then make sure you always use a single vowel followed by one or more consonants
- use a combination of real words and nonsense words – practicing blending with nonsense words is particularly good for students who have memorized many sight words but don’t have the skills to decode unfamiliar words
- when using nonsense words, only use patterns that exist in real words – here are things to avoid:
- no English words end in j, so don’t use j at the end, use ‘dge’
- we use ‘ck’ after a short vowel, so don’t use ‘c’ or ‘k’ by itself after a short vowel
- we use ‘tch’ after a short vowel, so don’t use ‘ch’ after a short vowel
- ‘y’ and ‘w’ act as vowels when they come after another vowel, so avoid putting them at the end
- ‘r’ after a vowel changes the vowel sound, so don’t use an ‘r’ after the vowel
- ‘c’ and ‘g’ have hard sounds and soft sounds depending on which vowel follows them – don’t use these before the vowel unless you have taught this to your students
Here is a set of beginning blending cards that you can download and use. Enjoy!