Post 9: Blending

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
  • 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’ directly after a short vowel
    • ‘y’ and ‘w’ act as vowels when they come after another vowel, so avoid putting them at the end (I’ve not included them in the cards below for this reason)
    • ‘r’ after a vowel changes the vowel sound, so don’t use an ‘r’ directly after a 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!

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