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Deedee Wills - Mrs. Wills Kindergarten

How to Teach Sound Blending in Kindergarten

How to teach sound blending in kindergarten

When you think of teaching phonics in kindergarten, you probably think mostly about teaching letter-sound relationships. However, phonics is a bit more than just learning the sounds associated with letters. Yes, we want our students to understand that sounds have letters to represent them on paper; but we also want students to have oral blending skills to read a whole word. Furthermore, we want students to build those unknown words and understand their meaning. This is part of what makes successful readers. Keep reading for some tips on how to teach sound blending in kindergarten.

How to Teach Sound Blending in Kindergarten

1. Set Up a Daily Instructional Routine

The first step in teaching students how to blend sounds is to set up a routine where you are practicing this skill daily. Effective instructional routines are powerful tools!

How to Teach Sound Blending in Kindergarten 1

Blending sounds daily is how each young student can build a strong foundation for reading. “Research shows that teachers who spend larger than average amounts of time on blending – modeling blending and providing loads of practice blending words in isolation and in context – achieve great student gains.” (Haddock, 1978; Rosenshine & Stevens, 1984) 

Students are well on their way to becoming successful readers when they can look at unfamiliar words and blend the separate sounds in order to say the correct word.

2. Begin with Continuous Sounds

Did you know that blending can and should start super early in kindergarten? It is such an important skill! Students do not need to know all of their letters and sounds before they practice blending. For example, perhaps you’ve introduced n, m, l, r, i, a, t. With just those consonants and vowels, students can begin blending sounds to make short words. (mat, rat, lit, tan)

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!  
Digital Phonics for Kindergarten

Wiley Blevins tells us that when students are starting to blend words, it is best to start with continuous sounds. These are sounds students can stretch without distortion. Once students have a better understanding of blending, which will come quickly, you can add stop sounds such as /b/, /k/, and /d/.

3. Practice Cumulative (Final) Blending

Cumulative blending (also known as final blending) is the best way to teach your students how to blend sounds during the first few weeks. 

Picture this… you are working with a student on blending simple CVC words, let’s say “sat”.  You start blending and by the time you get to /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!

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!  

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. Point to the individual letters, s and a, while pronouncing each sound. Then, slide your finger under the first two letters as you blend those sounds. Physically push s and a together and say the combined sounds, then point and say the last sound, /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.

4. Move On to Continuous (Successive) Blending

This is the blending routine that we are probably all most familiar with and you will want to use this form of blending for the bulk of your phonics instruction.

We show students a written word and blend the sounds together from left to right, holding each sound as we move to the next letter. You do not pause between the different sounds.

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!  

5. Practice Decoding Connected Text

When your students are ready for continuous blending, make sure you are giving students opportunities to decode words in connected text, not just in isolation. This is where your young readers will truly start developing fluent reading. Printable Decodable Books are perfect for this practice!

How to Teach blending letter sounds CVC
Science of Reading Decodable Readers

6. Use Word Building Activities

Word building activities are the next step for strengthening your students’ sound blending skills. You can add word building to your daily routine through whole group and small group activities. 

Students can practice sound blending as they create new words through a substitution word building activity. Using some sort of visual representation (magnetic letters, letter cards, or letter tiles), you would say, “Use the letters s, t, a, 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”.

Hands-on activities are the best way for students to practice blending sounds as they build and read words. 

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!  

7. Challenge Students As Needed

Be sure to adjust your sound-blending and word-building practice activities for students that need a bit of a challenge. For example, instead of providing the letters, you can simply ask the students which letters they need to spell a given word. Then, instead of providing the letter to change out in order to make a new word, you can just give them the new word to make: “Now make it say ‘hat’.”

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.

This type of word building is a great way for students to show their understanding of letter-sound correspondences as they stretch their sound blending skills.

How to Teach Sound Blending in Kindergarten 2

8. Practice, Practice, Practice!

Students need a lot of practice blending to become fluent readers. A great way to keep this practice motivating and engaging is to incorporate a variety of hands-on activities, like literacy centers.

How to Teach Sound Blending in Kindergarten 3

These Science of Reading board games provide fun and simple ways for blending decodable CVC, CVCe, and vowel team words.

How to Teach Sound Blending in Kindergarten 4

This Decodable Sentences Activity is perfect for literacy centers or small group instruction.

How to Teach Sound Blending in Kindergarten 5

These Touch, Read, and Write cards are another fun way to help students with sound blending. They can use their phonics skills to determine the missing sound in each word.

How to Teach Sound Blending in Kindergarten 6

Finally, you can use these word cards to play fun CVC Word Games during centers time! These cards encourage students to blend the letters to determine each word instead of using a picture cue.

Printable Phonics Curriculum

My hope is that these teaching strategies will help as you make a plan for how to teach sound blending in kindergarten! If you would like additional resources to enhance phonics instruction in your classroom, you’ll definitely want to check out this K-1 Phonics Curriculum

This resource is full of  research-based activities and detailed lesson plans to help you make the most of your phonics instruction. You’ll even find engaging literacy centers to help students practice these skills in a hands-on and engaging way. 

More Tips for Research-Based Phonics Instruction

How to teach sound blending in kindergarten

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Deedee Wills

My teaching career allowed me to experience teaching in different classroom environments and grades. My heart belongs to early childhood education. My job is to make teaching FUN, ENGAGING, and EASIER. Welcome!

Hi, I'm DeedeE.

My teaching career allowed me to experience teaching in different classroom environments and grades. My heart belongs to early childhood education. My job is to make teaching FUN, ENGAGING, and EASIER. Welcome!
 

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