Oral blending is a precursor to decoding or sounding out words. Developing a strong foundation in blending will help students make a faster and smoother transition when reading words.
Blending should begin well before the phoneme stage. Most students can easily blend the two parts of a compound word together. From that point, present words in smaller and smaller units. Provide opportunities for blending multi-syllable words together, then onsets and rimes.
After multiple experiences successfully blending the initial or final consonant with the rest of the word, it is time to blend two and three sounds together. For your first phoneme blending experiences, put the sounds in the context of a sentence or story.
My puppy likes to /b/ /ar/ /k/.
He likes it when I /p/ /e/ /t/ him.
He likes to chew on a /b/ /o/ /n/.
He likes to chase the /c/ /a/ /t/.
Another support for oral blending is to provide picture clues. Place a set of three-sound picture cards (or objects) in front of your students. Name the three sounds of one of the pictures and have the students find the correct picture. Limit the number of pictures for students who struggle with blending.
After playing games with pictures or objects, the students are ready to try blending sounds without any clues. Kathleen's students recently played a blending game called Build a Snowman (found in our unit Crazy for Snowmen). This game can be played with or without picture cards, so it can be used with students working at different levels. For each correct answer, the students were able to add another piece to the snowman; “building” the snowman made the game a little more fun for the students and kept them engaged throughout this guided lesson!