Part 3: Reading (blending)

Teaching blending

The Finger Phonics books are a good starting place for teaching blending. Take the letter ‘s’ page. The teacher asks the children if they can see the ‘s-u-n’. Only a few children in the class would hear the word ‘sun’, after it had been split into its individual sounds. After a few more examples, e.g. ‘m-ou-se, f-i-sh, r-o-c-km b-ee, b-oy’ etc., there may be one or two more children tuned in to hear the words. The words do not necessarily have to have the ‘s’ sound in them.

The following day, after teaching the next letter sound, a few examples from the ‘a’ page could be called out, e.g. a-n-t, g-ir-l, j-a-m, l-ea-f, r-a-bb-i-t, etc. Any object on the page could be used. Each day a few more children will start to hear the words. Some children have a naturally good ability for blending. Success comes to all in the end. The last children to acquire this skill tend to be those who have problems with learning to read, especially if it is combined with a poor memory.

Once the children can hear the word when an adult says the letter sounds, they are ready to try saying the sounds for themselves and to listen for the word. Blending needs practice, and can start when six letter sounds have been taught. You write three letter words, using those letters, on the board or on cards, e.g. ‘tap, pan, pit, sit, pin’, etc. The children say the sounds and listen for the word.

The children who can hear the words understand how the alphabetic code works for reading. They realise that it is something they can work out for themselves. This knowledge fascinates them and their confidence grows.

For most children blending is relatively easy. However, some children find it difficult and need to be taught exactly what to do.