If your child is learning phonics it is really important that you understand the concept of “blending”. Blending is the process of saying the individual sounds in a word and then running them together to make the word such as m-m-a-a-n-n (man).Sounds must be said quickly, accurately and fluidly to hear the word. This smooth and accurate blending is essential for reading fluency and correct phonological processing (hearing the blended word correctly)
Note: Blending is the opposite to spelling where you chop up the word into individual sounds and say each sound separately such as m/…a/…n.
Blending is something that needs to be practiced on a daily basis once your child has begun to learn phonics. It can often take a child quite a while to hear the sounds in words, so do not worry.
To encourage children to stretch out the sounds in words I give them an elastic band and introduce them to Stretchy Snake ( we pretend that they elastic band in our snake!)
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The elastic band is a really helpful way of showing children how to stretch out a word. Take a deep breath. Turn your two hands into the elastic band and stretch it out opposite directions. As you stretch out your elastic band, slowly say each sound in the word without stopping, so they run into each other in a long string eg sssuuunnn. Then say the word eg. sun. The stretchy snake band helps your child to remember the long, seamless string that they need to make when blending.
Sometimes, singing the sounds can be easier for young children to do. Just pick and note and sing all the sounds without stopping.
Make sure that your child is pronouncing his/her sounds correctly. Any mispronunciations or choppy sounding out should be corrected as early in the learning process as possible.
When your child is comfortable with blending you can use and ” imaginary elastic band”. Make the same pulling action, but without the elastic band
It is important to begin with oral blending first. Once your child can hear the sounds in words and can easily blend them together to make words, then he/she is ready to practice blending written words.
Once your child begins to read, remind him/her to try using “stretchy snake” for unfamiliar words. Children need to be reminded of word attack strategies until they become automatic to them. Explain that Stretchy Snake doesn’t always work, but is worth a try.
I shall cover other word attack strategies in the coming weeks.