Phonological Awareness: Blending


February 23, 2017

Written by Jaimi Bird, M.A., CCC-SLP

As shared in my previous two post, phonological awareness is a term that refers to a group of pre-reading skills that are important for literacy and language development. Phonological awareness is the ability to hear sounds that make up words in spoken language. This includes recognizing words that rhyme, deciding whether words begin or end with the same sounds, understanding that syllables and sounds can be manipulated to create new words, and separating words into syllables and into their individual sounds.

Check out this post all about rhyming and this one about segmenting.

Now let’s focus on another stepping stone in phonological awareness: BLENDING!  Recognizing that sentences can be broken down into words and that words can be broken down into syllables and phonemes (sounds) is segmenting, Blending is pulling the individual sounds or syllables back together to make words. Children who can segment and blend words back together are able to use this knowledge when reading and spelling. 

Start blending words at the syllable level. 

Start with compound words, such as “rainbow” or “pancake”.  Have the written words along with two pictures that will make up the new compound word.  Have your child slide the two pictures together while saying the words to make the word.  “Rain” + “bow” = Rainbow. 

Once your child understands the concept of blending with compound words, move to syllable blending.  You can use the same strategy as you did before. Write words on paper and cut them apart into syllables.  You can make the edges look like puzzle pieces. This is a good visual to help kids understand how syllable work together to make a whole word— just like puzzle pieces work together to make a picture. If you were going to blend the word “monster”,  write the word on a piece of paper and then cut it apart leaving “mon” on one piece and “ster” on the the second piece.  

Another fun syllable blending activity to use in a group is to line the kids up in a row, next whisper a syllable of a word to each child.  Then each child says their syllable. Have each child say their syllables after each other, slowly at first, then speed up so that together they make a word. Fun! 

Blending words from phonemes.

Once your child has mastered blending with syllables, you can begin blending words together at the sound level.  Each sound in a word is called a phoneme.  For example, the word “cat” is made up of the phonemes “c-a-t”.  Remind your child that we are listening for sounds that we hear when we say the words, not letters used for spelling. 

One fun way to help kids visualize words broken into phonemes and blended back together is to use their arm.  If you have a three phoneme words such as “dog”, touch your shoulder for “d”, your elbow for “o”, and touch your hand for “g”.  Start slowly and say each sound as you go, then quickly move your hand from your shoulder to your hand saying the sounds and blending them into the word.  This is a great way to gain understanding of the concept of phoneme blending. 

Another easy way to practice blending is to say the phonemes of words and have your child listen and tell you what word the sounds make up.  For example, you say, “b-a-t” and your child will answer “bat”.  Start with just small pauses between sounds, and as your child becomes more confident in their blending skill make the pauses longer. 

Try some of these strategies with your kids at home!  Or if you feel that your child needs more help, contact us at ETLC, we would love to help.

Jaimi Bird is a Speech-Language Pathologist at Enrichment Therapy and Learning Center. ETLC has locations in the Iowa City, IA area and Des Moines, IA area. We provide individual speech language therapy and tutoring as well as offer a unique group, the Language Enrichment Academic Program (LEAP). At Enrichment Therapy and Learning Center our passion is to help kids achieve effective communication skills and gain academic success. Contact us for more information on how we can help your child succeed.

1210 Jordan Street, Suite 2A
North Liberty, IA 52317

2570 106th Street, Suite E
Urbandale, IA 50322


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