So, what is blending exactly? Blending is a crucial step on the way to fluent reading. To put it simply, it’s the ability to smoothly combine individual sounds together in words. For example, an early reader may read out each individual sound in the word ‘fast’ like /f/…/a/…/s/…/t/, while a smooth blending would be sounding the word out as /faasst/.
Some tips to help your child learn how to blend words include:
1. Oral blending activities – call and response activities where you can demonstrate how a word sounds when you read each of its individual sounds out, and then what it sounds like when you read it at regular speed or ‘normally’, will allow your child to better understand how the individual sounds in words are ‘hooked’ together to make a word.
To demonstrate this, tell your child that you are going to play some fun sound games. Explain to them that you will say a word slowly and that they need to repeat the word slowly in the same way, and then say the word at regular speed, or ‘normally.’ For example, for the word ‘cat.’
You: Say ‘/c/…/a/…/t/’.
Child: Repeats the word slowly in the same way as you.
You: ‘Now say it normally’.
Child: Says the word at regular speed.
Try this exercise with simple, one or two syllable words, then as they get the hang of it, try some longer words.
2. The Power of Song – when you sing a word it is a lot harder to sound out the individual sounds in a choppy way as might happen when just reading it aloud. This is why nursery rhymes are so useful, but you can always get creative and make your own songs with words that your child is having difficulty sounding out.
3. Play ‘I Spy’…with a phonics twist – this is a really simple game, much like the original, but instead of simply asking just ‘I Spy something that starts with…’, you also give your child a clue in the form of sounding out the name of the object you’re looking at. To guess correctly, your child needs to put the sounds together to say the name of the object at normal speed. For example, you can say ‘I spy something that sounds like ‘/t/…/a/…/b/…/le/’, then your child needs to put each sound together to say ‘table’ normally.
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