Had a customer call a couple of weeks ago asking how to get her grandson to apply the sounds he now knows to blending. Firstly, you need to ensure that the sounds are at the automatic level – the consonant and vowel automaticity drill pages are excellent for this. Children who struggle with letter sounds typically have weaker memory skills and often need many, many, many repetitions to become automatic. A key to success with blending is that the sounds immediately pop into a child’s head when they see the letter. Once these are solid, I like to use games for blending. Here’s one the kids really enjoy:
Throw-a-word – you need 3 cubes (you can make wooden ones or buy the foam ones, but buy the blank ones as they don’t use good blending letters on the printed ones). Select one for the initial sounds and print letters such as b, d, f, l, m, n, p, s, t on it. Select one for the vowels and print a, e, i, o, u and I usually use an extra e. Select one for the final consonants and print the letters b, d, m, n, p, t. These letters blend well and don’t affect vowel sounds. Throw the cubes out on the floor and have the children blend the letters into a word – it may be real or nonsense. I would often switch the beginning and end cube and have them read the new word as well. You may start out throwing just the consonant cubes and setting the vowel cube at ‘a’ or whatever vowel you want to use.
Modelling is extremely important to start out with. Show the children how the sounds blend together by sliding the cubes together to make the words.
Next month I’ll share the blending cards idea.