How to Teach Blending:
You might be wondering… wait, what? Teaching blending can be fun and engaging?
You may be especially wondering how to teach blending successfully if you have tried blending drills with students and it was like pulling teeth. The students were not interested . They complained every five minutes about how hard it is. They may have even been saying words that do not match the sounds they just said correctly. Don’t worry, I’ve been here before too!
Actually, I studied, researched and found ways to teach blending that is fun and produces good results . Now that I know what it takes, I’m here to share my top 5 tips with you.
1. Use Phonemes (Sounds) That Were Already Taught.
At first, I didn’t do this, but It makes a world of a difference. I would think: “If they don’t know a sound then I will just tell them, as long as they can learn the skill of blending” I was soooo wrong! When you use only the sounds that students know, you already set them up for success taking a lot of the stress away. Think about how much they will enjoy the blending practice now!
Actually, they will not be discouraged by how many sounds you have to help with. Now you have success with teaching blending. It’s a Win!
2. Make it multisensory: Involve Auditory, Visual and Tactile/Kinesthetic!
Outside of the fact that multisensory is fun and engaging, it will also help to make your teaching and the learning stick! Here are a few suggestions that I use with my Orton-Gillingham Blending board.
- Have the student tap each sound card or the colored dots (starting at the green dot to signal go and stopping at the red dot). After saying each sound, have the student slide their finger or an object across the black arrow as they say it fast/blend the sounds.
- Have them use different voices ( say it like a frog, high, low, deep, etc).
- Add body movements or arm tapping for each sound ( a different movement or part of the arm for each sound you say).
3.Your Knowledge is Key: Level Up or Down When Needed.
If students are not ready to segment any sounds, then you segment the sounds for them and have them guess the word. If they are not ready to blend the word, but they can segment sounds then have them do that and you say the word.
Now you’re starting to get the point… Meet them where they are.
Your knowledge on student performance is crucial. Sometimes its revealed that the student may not be ready to blend words to read. You can still teach blending at the phonological level which will prepare them for blending to read later down the line.
Teaching blending can be done at any stage the child is at. Most of the time we think that we can only do this when we are trying to get a child to read words.
- This will be fun if you turn it into a game of guess the word. play this game by segmenting each sound in the word. The student will tap and repeat each sound then slide their finger as they try to guess the word.
- If all they can do is segment the sounds… ALLOW THEM. This is where I am with my son (he segments and I say the word) He loves it and I know we are still practicing blending. I am setting him up for success to read.
On the flip side some students may not need to segment each sound. Allow them to just say the word if they are ready. (Make a goal to say as many words as they can in 1 minute). Remember to celebrate the student no matter how small the number of words they were able to blend and challenge them to beat their score each time.
4.Errors Will Happen: Quickly Refocus!
I’m going to keep this one short… If a student makes an error… ALL IS GOOD.
Have them go back to the first sound and start over. I make this quick and fun by just saying “first sound” and students know to go back to the first sound and start over.
You can use a different signal, but I would be sure to set up a signal so that you can keep the pace of the drill and students are not frustrated with messing up.
5.Keep a Good Pace: Move as Quickly as Possible Through the Cards:
Do NOT spend too much time on one word! Blending drills are quick. If students are stuck, there is nothing wrong with just telling them the sound/ word.
A great way to reinforce sounds/phonograms so they will have more practice with it is to keep it in place for the next few rounds instead of flipping it.
Make note to go back and review the sounds that remain an issue. The point is… If phonograms you taught are still too challenging, remove them and reteach them!
The MAIN THING you have to do is relax and have fun! Learning should be fun and can still be effective!
More from Creative Ways!
To read why I started a multisensory journey check out this blog post!
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