Reading is a powerful, yet complicated skill to master. All the components, phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension all work together to help students become a master reader. We as educators know that all of these components are important, but I have noticed in my years of teaching, that once students master blending and segmenting, the growth is immense. I have so many awesome activities to share with you that are sure to help students master this skill and allow you as an educator to see the growth you work tirelessly for!
So what exactly is blending and segmenting and why is it important for students? Segmenting involves students breaking words down into individual sounds, such as /r/ /a/ /m/ , whereas blending is when those sounds get pulled together to form the entire word. While this is typically a skill developed in kindergarten, there are still students who struggle with this important skill through second grade and sometimes even higher.
But why is this particular skill so important? Think about how you read for a second. When you’re reading, do you have to stop often to decode a word? Most likely the answer is no. When we become fluent readers, we have learned a variety of decoding strategies which allows us to move from thinking about decoding words, to our brains shifting into automaticity so that we can comprehend the stories. This is the ultimate goal of reading. To move past the monotonous task of “reading” to having that movie play in our minds. Visualization is the power.
Now think about your classroom full of students and how many of them have moved past this skill and are able to fluently blend and read CVC words. Maybe you teach kinder and you have a few or you teach first and have quite a bit. Maybe you teach second and almost all do but what about the kids that can’t? Even if it’s just one, or two kids, they deserve the extra support. In my 6 years of teaching first grade, I ALWAYS have had a HAND FULL of students who struggled so much and needed more help. This led me to research and planning.
After years of teaching students who needed more support with this skill, I knew I needed to do something different to help these students. Something more exciting and engaging that clicked quickly. So let’s dive in. First I’m going to briefly tell you about how I construct reading groups, then I’m going to tell you how I make it EXCITING and ENJOYABLE!
Small groups were constructed using Jan Richardson’s guided reading program and it was a game changer for me. If you have not heard of Jan Richardson or use her for guided reading, oh my goodness are you missing out! At my last school, we called her “Jan the Man” because boy is she! Her method of teaching guided reading engages students, helps teachers utilize best practices, and the GROWTH I see every year from my students is exponential! She breaks down the components of reading from pre-readers to fluent readers. She’s created ENGAGING lessons that the students LOVE so they can sit and focus. Which is SUPER important when you only have 20 minutes and a table full of 6 year olds covering crucial content! She takes the boring out of reading and keeps it exciting for everyone. She has helped me take students from pre-reading to being fluent readers. In teaching we strive to get our students to specific growth targets over the school year. With Jan’s Guided Reading Program, those targets are capable of being met and then surpassed. It is UNBELIEVABLE how well students thrive. If you want to learn more, I HIGHLY recommend starting with THIS book. It’s a great read and really teaches you what students look like at different reading levels and HOW best to support them.
Bring Back the Excitement!
Play based learning is an amazing way to keep the fun and enjoyment in practicing skills. A teacher can be handed a curriculum and told to teach it, but I guarantee that if you walk in ANY room, EVERY teacher will have a different way of teaching it. That’s one of the great things about teaching- everybody has their own style and flair! Now as I stated earlier, I use Jan Richardson’s Guided Reading Program, but I take her lessons and add in my own elements. Not only am I SUPER passionate about using the “Jan the Man” method, I also STRONGLY believe in hands on and play based learning.
One of my favorite quotes is from Mr. Rogers about play. He says, “Play is often talked about as if it were a serious relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” I realized my struggling students needed their serious learning to be playful. So there was the challenge I accepted. Bring play into learning. Below I am going to share with you 6 activities from a growing bundle full of hands-on segmenting and blending resources that my students BEG to play.
Blending and Segmenting Fun
All of these began with the thought in mind to develop hands on activities for students to practice this crucial skill and HAVE FUN! I started simple with this blending activity.
While these are simple, they are VERY effective for students. Students use colored counters to practice segmenting each individual sound. I then teach students to use the arrow to blend the entire word together. In Jan’s book, she discusses how when students push tangible objects up with their fingers, whether it is letters for sight word practice or counters for letter sounds, the motion locks it in their brain so they can remember it. This activity is effective because it allows students to see visually what it looks like to segment and blend words, while also includes that movement piece for them as well. When students get really good at this skill, I then add in the cards with the boxes for writing in the sounds. This allows students to practice writing the letters associated with the sounds and then blending and reading the entire word together.
After the raving of this activity from my students, I had to step up my engagement level for the next “game”. Make way for the race cars!!
When I brought this out, and gave each kid their own little race car people, the kids went CRAZY! They had a blast “racing” while blending. The best part is they didn’t realize how much they were learning because they were having SO much fun! Just like with the other activity, these mats have the dots at the bottom for students so when they are segmenting and blending, they know where to start, slow down, and stop! These mats also include nonsense words for students to practice those as well!
The next activity is one of my favorites, I learned about these magnetic “wands” and knew they would be a BLAST with blending!
With these magnetic wands and magnetic counters, the students can “magically” blend words together and watch the sounds disappear onto the wand as they say the word! Talk about FUN! They LOVE blending with “magic” and think it is the most fun activity that they BEG to do. Again, just like the first activity, these are differentiated for students working at different levels. No matter where they’re at, they are sure to have TONS of fun!
And as much as kids love magic, they also love being detectives! Here’s an activity for our little investigators!!
Throw in a magnifying glass and boy do you have engagement and fun! I especially like this activity, because the students really have to rely on their beginning sounds to help them determine the letter that goes in the box to spell their word. It is such a fun way to practice and really has students being detectives deciphering the words and it’s beginning sound! When they determine the word, they are always SO excited because they really had no clue what it was! Talk about a fun time!!
The next activity involves some fun destruction. What kid doesn’t LOVE Play Doh and smashing things? Let’s be honest! When you pull out Play Doh and tiny mallets, kids just KNOW they’re going to have fun!
This is such a fun way to practice segmenting and blending! Students love smashing out the sounds with their Play Doh and mallets! You can even find green, yellow, and red really reinforce the visual of blending words.
The last activity is one of my favorites, because it involves the nostalgic toy of Slinkys! When you bring these things out, kids think this is going to be SO fun!
Slinkys are fun to use with blending because it shows students how we stretch out each individual sound but then we snap it back together to read the entire word! Another cool feature of this activity is that it allows students the freedom to choose their own picture card, as well as use the letters or write the letters. It gives great student choice!
With all of these activities, I’ve tried to include as MANY different CVC words as possible for students to practice so that they aren’t practicing the same words over and over again. The best part is after practicing ALL of these different activities in small group, they can then become center activities they already know how to play and LOVE! These activities can be used in SO many ways. Students can work on beginning sounds, or work on isolating individual sounds, and of course they can work on blending words together! This growing bundle is the most wish listed and purchased resource in my ENTIRE store. Teachers tell me over and over again how much this resource helps their students and how often they use these activities as interventions for students. Read below some of the wonderful things teachers have to say about these activities.
“This resource is very helpful. I am struggling to get some of my students to meet their goal of reading word family words. This has been very helpful to get them to visually see how they can use the blending strategy to read these words.”
“Great resource for small groups to keep students engaged and excited about their learning!”
“I am excited to begin using these with my students! I plan to use them for small group. So many fun and different ways to target segmenting/blending 🙂 With this bundle I am set for a while!”
“I am excited to use this with my students to help blend words and increase reading skills. I know it will be used often and a go-to for my students. Thanks”
“Lots of creative ways to practice CVC words with your class. Especially great for centers or for guided reading. Thank you!”
“This is an amazing resource to use in my small group!”
“These are great introductory activities for my kindergarten students. We use them for literacy centers with our early literacy teacher during second term. Thank you!”
“This provides plenty of activities to help all of my students with blending. It was perfect for my small group lessons as well as word work activities for students.”
This is also a GROWING bundle because as I come up with more hands on ideas, I continue to add them to the bundle! So each new resource that gets included, you get for FREE! If you would like to learn more about these different hands-on activities, you can watch the video below! To grab the 350 page growing bundle, simply click on the picture!
I hope you enjoyed learning more about segmenting and blending and how to make it fun and enjoyable not only for the students, but for you as well! Don’t forget to subscribe to my email list! You will get the most up to date tips, tricks, and classroom projects… and of course more fun FREEBIES including the brand new Slide Blending FREEBIE! If you would like to learn about this and other things happening in my classroom follow me @sweetnsauerfirsties on Instagram.
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