Teaching Kindergartners to Blend the Play Way

The systematic teaching of all phonological awareness skills is imperative to ensure a students’ future reading success. Daily, intentional instruction of, and more importantly, the “playing with" individual sounds in a meaningful way will build cognitive clarity as students experience how sounds work together to form words.

A child’s future reading success is directly linked to his/her understanding of phonological awareness skills. Consequently, daily intentional, strategic teaching of those skills must exist in the kindergarten classroom. The best way to teach these skills? Well the play way of course!

The last few weeks I have been practicing the art of blending sounds together to make words. (A crucial precurser to decoding). After a few mini-lessons on the skill, I bring out the blending magic bullet, a basketball. Yes, a ball adds that touch of kinesthetic action that actually allows not only a visual to auditory blending, but adds the rhythm as well. Try out this game, you will love it!

Bounce the Blends

Common Core Objective RF.K.2. Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes).

Materials: Gather a small basketball or playground ball (I have a jack-o-lantern ball that is perfect for a halloween theme).


Today we are going to make words by blending sounds together. On your turn, I will bounce three sounds like this (model as you say the sounds, bouncing once for each sound) /b/ /a/ /t/.

What is that word? (Assist as necessary. If student is struggling try the word as an onset-rime /b/ /at/ (two bounces). If he still struggles move to /ba/ /t/ (two bounces). Slowly pull away from these methods after time until student can hear the three distinct sounds).

When the child responds bat, throw the ball to him and then have him toss it back.  Repeat again with a new word (and new student) continuing as time allows.

*Note. When students conquer the skill of blending use this same game in a reverse manner. Have student draw a picture card and then bounce once for each sound in the word, then say the whole word as they toss the ball to the teacher.

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If you want to learn more about teaching phonemic awareness skills to young children, check out our podcast on the topic. 

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