Monday, December 7, 2009

Helping Your Child Blend Sounds to Read Words

What is blending? In phonics, blending is the ability to recognize sounds and manipulate them in order to read words. To blend, children must first say each sound and then blend them together. For example, if you say each of these sounds, /c/ /a/ /t/, and blend them together, you get the word cat.

Children must be able to blend parts of words together and recombine them easily to read words they don’t know and to acquire fluency (the ability to read accurately with speed and expression). Although many children learn to blend sounds independently, others must be taught the process step by step. The sooner a child learns to blend, the more easily he will learn to read fluently.

A great way to teach blending is to start with cvc (consonant-vowel-consonant) words, for example, fan. Words that start and end with the sounds /f/, /v/, /n/, /m/, /l/, and /s/ are easier to blend because they can be drawn out: /ffffaaaannnn/.Have the child say each sound of the word fan, pausing after each sound:/f/-/a/-/n/. Have the child repeat the sounds again, this time by holding each sound as they move to the next.: /fff//aaa//nnn/. Repeat several times a little faster until the sounds are blended and the child can read the word: /fffaaannn/, /ffaann/, fan.

You can give your kids a head start by helping them learn to read a few words before they even start school. We’ve made it easy for you: Here’s a script for teaching them to blend sounds to read the word mat:
Parent: ‘When you see a letter, make its sound: (letter a) /aaa/’
Child: ‘/aaa/’
Parent: ‘(letter t) /t/’
Child: ‘/t/’
Parent: ‘Now, say both sounds: /aaa/ /t/, /aaa/ /t/’
Child: ‘/aaa/ /t/, /aaa/ /t/’
Parent: ‘A little faster: /aa/ /t/, /aa/ /t/’
Parent: ‘Now, a little faster: /a/ /t/, /a/ /t/’
Child: ‘/a/ /t/, /a/ /t/’
Parent: ‘Now, say the sounds together, starting at the left and moving to the right. Ready? /at/, /at/.’
Child: ‘/at/, /at/’
Parent: ‘Now. Let’s add one more sound: /mmm/ /at/, /mmm/ /at/.’
Child: ‘/mmm/ /at/, /mmm/ /at/’
Parent: ‘Now, blend the sounds together, starting from the left and moving to the right: /mmaat/, /mmaat/.
Child: ‘/mmaat/, /mmaat/’
Parent: ‘One more time: mat.’
Child: ‘mat
Parent: ‘You read mat!’

Watch this clip for a visual representation of this blending lesson…

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