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  Professional Development Modules >> Phonemic Awareness and Phonics

Using Phonics Blending

"Two blending procedures that have the greatest reading payoff are final [sound-by-sound] blending and successive [whole-word] blending." (Resnick and Beck, 1976)

Blending Sounds: Phonics blending (also known as visual blending) is the ability to string together the sounds that each letter stands for in a word. (Blevins, 1998) When children perform phonics blending activities, they work with printed words. When they perform oral or auditory blending activities, they work with spoken words. Oral blending activities work well as warm-ups at the beginning of a phonics lesson.

Two Key Blending Strategies: There are two methods for teaching children to blend sound-spellings to make words: (1) sound-by-sound (or final) blending, and (2) whole-word (or successive) blending. Both blending procedures are best introduced using simple CVC words.

Sound-by-Sound (or Final) Blending: You identify and pronounce each sound one at a time through the vowel and then blend those sounds. Do not blend the whole word until you have identified and pronounced each sound first. For example:

  1. Write m. Point to the letter and say /m/.
  2. Write a. Point to the letter and say /a/.
  3. Slide your finger under the letters ma and blend them together to say /ma/.
  4. Write n. Point to the letter and say /n/.
  5. Slide your finger under the letters man and blend them together to say man.
  6. Circle the word with your finger and say: The word is man.
Variation: Repeat consonant sounds when blending. For example, after you say /m/, repeat the sound: /m/, /m/, /m/.

Whole-Word (or Successive) Blending: You sound out what each letter stands for one at a time without pausing between sounds. For example:

  1. Write man.
  2. Slide your finger under each letter as you slowly say and extend the sound that the letter stands for, /m/ /a/ /n/ (mmmaaannn). Don't pause between sounds.
  3. Slowly compress the extended word, mmmaaannn, mmaann, man.
  4. Circle the word with your finger and say: The word is man.
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