Blending and segmenting are key skills when it comes to phonics learning. In addition to learning how to read and write the individual sounds, children must also learn how to blend the sounds together to form words and segment or break down words into individual sounds.
- Without learning to blend and segment successfully, children simply won’t be able to become confident and fluent readers. While this can be a hard skill for some children to master, there are plenty of ways you can make blending and segmenting more fun and easy to learn!
Segmenting in phonics explained
You may have heard teachers talk about ‘sounding out’ a word. That’s segmenting!
Segmenting means breaking down a word into its individual sounds and identifying each one. That doesn’t necessarily mean breaking down the word letter by letter however, as many sounds contain multiple letters. Let’s look at some examples:
cat = c/a/t
sheep = sh/ee/p
elephant = e/l/e/ph/a/n/t
beaver = b/ea/v/er
You can see by looking at the words above that when segmented, they aren’t always broken down into individual letters. Instead, they are broken down into phonemes or ‘sounds.’ There are 44 phonemes in the English language and each sound (or phoneme) can be made up of 1, 2, or 3 letters. This may seem complicated at first, but the more you practise the easier it becomes!
Blending in phonics games
Blending is the process of joining one or more sounds together in order to read a word. Sometimes it helps to say the separate sounds several times over so that children can begin to hear the word you are blending. For example:
d/o/g, d/o/g, d/o/g = dog!
Blending is often more difficult for children to master than segmenting and they may find it difficult to process each sound and mentally stitch them together to make a word. Playing simple listening games is a brilliant way of improving children’s blending ability.
You can try:
What’s in the box?
Guess the musical instrument
Guess the animal sound
For help with blending lessons you can use our phonics scheme for EYFS and KS1. Our synthetic phonics programme includes full coverage of blending and segmenting within daily lesson plans to help children make rapid progress in reading. It includes coverage of phase 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 phonics with daily and weekly phonics planning plus accompanying decodable ebooks, guided reading resources, online phonics games, phonics assessments, handwriting resources and phonics resources. All aligned with the Letters and Sounds progression.
Sign up for a no-obligation free trial today, to see how we can help you teach children to blend as a key skill part of their learning to read journey.