Let’s explore how to teach blending letter sounds and word-building skills in kindergarten. Great instructional routines to guide your phonics instruction each day!
When you think of teaching phonics in kindergarten, you probably think about letter-sound relationship. It is important for us to realize however, that phonics is a little more than just that. Yes, we want our students to understand that sounds have letters to represent them on paper; but we also want students to be able to blend those sounds to read a word. Furthermore, we want students to build those words and understand their meaning. This is part of what makes successful readers. With instructional routines in place, we can effectively teach phonics in kindergarten.
I want to focus on two instructional routines – blending and word building. These Science of Reading ideas are meant to guide and offer support in your phonics instruction.
How to Teach blending letter sounds
Blending sounds should be done daily within a kindergarten classroom. Students are well on their way to becoming successful readers when they can blend sounds into words and understand and read those words.
Did you know that blending can and should start super early in kindergarten? Students do not need to know all of their letters and sounds before they practice blending. For example, perhaps you’ve introduced T, B, H, M and A. With just those consonants and vowel, students can begin blending sounds to make words. (at, tab, hat, mat, bat).
Let’s take a look at two types of blending.
This is the blending routine that we are probably all most familiar with. We show students a word and blend the sounds together from left to write, holding each sound as we move to the next letter.
Cumulative blending breaks down the process of blending a little further. Picture this… you are working with a student on blending 3 sounds together (sat) and by the time you get to the letter t, that little sweetie has forgotten the sound that s makes. Oy! I have experienced this SO MANY TIMES! This is where cumulative blending can help! Using letter tiles or magnetic letters, spell the word in front of your student but leave a good amount of space between each of the letters. Let’s use the word sat as an example again. I would point to the s and a while pronouncing each sound. Then, slide my finger under the first two letters as I blend those sounds. Physically push s and a together and say the sound and then point and say the sound for t. Push the t next to the others and slide your finger under as you blend all the sounds together. Finally, point and read the word from left to right.
How to teach word-building
Building words is an activity that can be used to practice any phonics skill. Plus word building activities can be done any time throughout your day – whole group or small-group. There are also two types of word building routines. You can use both to successfully meet the various needs within your classroom.
Word Building: What is the new word?
In this type of word building, you provide a little extra support. It would look like this: “Use the letters s, a, t, to spell your first word.” “What is the word?” You then use substitution to direct students to create new words. i.e., “Now change the s to h”.
Here students are using letter cards to build -et words.
Word Building: What will you change?
This word building routine is a little more complex which works well for your students that need a bit of a challenge. Instead of giving the letters, you simply ask the students which letters they need to spell the word. Then, instead of providing the letter to change out in order to make a new word, you just give them the new word to make. “Now make it say “hat”. For this routine to be effective, students need an understanding of phoneme manipulation. Meaning how to segment, delete and substitute sounds. Changing out the beginning consonant may be a simple task for some. Here are ways you can increase the complexity:
- Words that change the beginning and ending consonant
- Words that change the vowel sound
- Words that change the beginning consonant to a blend
- Words that change the beginning consonant to a digraph
- Changing CVC words to CVCe words.
My hope is that these how to teach blending letter sounds and word-building strategies will guide you in your phonics instruction! There are so many great resources to help you along the way. Here are few that I like to use:
Want to read more about the Science of Reading?
- How To Teach Blending Letter Sounds And Word-Building In Kindergarten
- Tips On How To Teach A Kindergarten Interactive Read Aloud Lesson
- Phonics And Phonemic Awareness | Are They The Same?
- Are Guided Reading Lesson Plans Wrong? 5 Ways to Bring the Science of Reading into Your Classroom
- What Does a Science of Reading Lesson Plan Look Like? Free File Too