So your child has mastered their letters and sounds? That is no easy feat! But you may be thinking, “What should we work on next?”
Beginning Blending with Two and Three-Letter Words
Once at least some of the letters and sounds are learned, the next step is teaching how to blend sounds together to make words. Depending on your child’s readiness, you may want to start by blending together just two letters, or phonemes, before you move on to three-letter words. While you can blend together two phonemes to make a few real words, such as it and at, most will be nonsense words, such as ap and ot. Whether you decide to use real or nonsense words, it doesn’t really matter as long as your child gets to practice blending the sounds.
Once your child has mastered two-letter words, it is time to move on to three-letter words, also known as CVC words. CVC words are three-letter words that contain a consonant, then a vowel, followed by another consonant, such as mat, pen, and dot. These words are very common and fairly simple for beginning readers. In other words, they are a great starting place when teaching your child to read.
Word Families: To Teach or Not To Teach?
Now at this point, you may hear many teachers and educational bloggers mention the term word families. All this means is a way to organize the CVC words and teach them systematically. Word families build off of rhyming to allow your child to read more words with ease. For example, if you were to teach the -at word family, you could teach all the words that end in -at, such as bat, mat, hat, rat, sat, etc.
Word families are great for beginning readers, however some students may rely too much on their rhyming knowledge in order to sound out the words. Think back to my example with the -at family… Your child will probably sound out bat, and maybe also mat, but pretty soon they may figure out the pattern and only need to look at the first letter (r for rat) to read the word. You want your child looking at each letter and blending the sounds together, so if this happens, they may be ready for more of a challenge.
Using a Blending Board for CVC Words
A Blending Board is an excellent tool to use when teaching kids to blend sounds together. They have become fairly common with the popularity of the Orton-Gillingham reading approach, and there are many options out there to purchase one or make your own. Haley, from the Primary Post, wrote a great blog post that teaches you how to build your own Blending Board using a 3-ring binder, like the one below. You can check it out here.
A Blending Board consists of different phoneme cards that are blended together to make words. Today, I am just going to talk about blending CVC words, so our board would only have three letters, but as your child becomes a more advanced reader, more phonemes could be added as more advanced phonics skills are taught.
Your CVC blending board will have three sections going across, one for each letter in the word, with many different letter cards in each section. The first section would have beginning consonant cards, the second section would contain vowel cards, and the third section would have ending consonant cards. Make sure you go over the letter before you add it to the stack.
Now it is time to start blending!
I would recommend using the I do, we do, you do method to start. Point to each letter as you say the sound, then run your finger under the entire word while blending the letters together.
Let’s look at the word cat.
I do (you on your own): c – a – t … cat
We do (together with your child): c – a – t … cat
You do (your child independently): c – a – t … cat
Don’t forget to point as you read!
Next, change one or more letters on the blending board and start over using the new word. Remember, it doesn’t have to be a real word. Nonsense words are just as good for practicing blending. And then, it gives you the opportunity to add that into discussion. Talk with your child about which words are real and which words are made up.
Being able to blend sounds to make words is critical for beginning readers. However, this can become rather mundane after a while, so it is important to practice in short, frequent bursts. I would recommend using a blending board with your child a few times per week but no more than 10-15 minutes at a time.
As a tutor for beginning readers, I always try to spend a few minutes each session practicing blending. This is an activity that can easily be adapted or extended to meet the individual needs of each child. If you need additional help, or are unsure of where to start, please feel free to reach out to me! I’d love to help!
In the meantime… Happy blending!