In this post I will cover the second step in how I teach my kids to read using phonics, which is to teach blending.
If you are following along and have already mastered the first step I use to teach phonics, that means your sweet little learner has a solid understanding of the alphabet and their sounds. Let me share with you how I build upon that foundation!
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If you’re new and are just starting off teaching your little one to read, please visit my first post in this series called: Teaching Phonics: ABCs. In my previous article, you’ll learn how to get started teaching the alphabet, along with their sounds, through games and other recommendations.
Learning the alphabet and its sounds are fun! Keeping that same atmosphere when introducing new concepts, like blending, is important for you and your kiddo!
What is Blending?
Blending is a combination of two letters to make a sound. Blending consists of a consonant and a vowel. This is an important step to reading. We use the My Blend and Word Book from Abeka to really solidify this step of reading.
Being able to open up the little blend book with your emerging reader helps them feel accomplished as they finish each page. We normally only do one page a day, but sometimes my little readers want to do more. The recommendation here is to only complete a maximum of two pages a day. This will help keep little learners from getting frustrated and overwhelmed. It’s best to end on a good note and feeling positive.
The gist of blending is that you take two letters and say their sounds separately, then say them together. This will help your child understand that letters grouped together have a meaning and flow together.
The book uses a ladder diagram. You should encourage your kiddo to read down the ladder and back up it. I read it first as an example each day until they begin to understand on their own and take the lead themselves.
l –> ă --> lă
Start by saying the sound for the letter “l” then the short vowel sound for “ă”.
Then by blending them together read “lă”
*IMPORTANT* When reading blends like ‘be’ ‘me’ ‘no’ ‘go’ ‘to’ and ‘so’, resist reading them with their long vowel sounds.
Remember your learner is practicing short vowel sounds! Introducing these words and their special sounds with will come later.
The blending ladder uses the same consonant with all five short vowel sounds for the day. We then read down the ladder and then back up. One page completes our lesson for the day!
We go through the entire alphabet’s consonant sounds with the five short vowel sounds until the kid can read the two letters together without help, and it sounds normal, not choppy.
Giving these lessons no more than 10 minutes a day to grasp this concept is all we do. You will be shocked by the short amount of time and effort you put into this, yet your kid will absorb the information so quickly!
Our favorite place to work on this is on the couch, side by side. I like my little learner to hold the book so they feel like they are in charge and are comfortable!
In my first post in this series, I discussed the importance of keeping your excitement level up. Along with that excitement, I strongly recommend being encouraging and showing that to your little kids. If you need some encouragement yourself, please visit my article about how to set a positive atmosphere in your homeschool!
The number one resource I recommend for this second phase of teaching phonics is the My Blend and Word Book.
I also use the Handbook For Reading by Abeka. In this book we accomplish 1 page a day, and we start it after my kid has some confidence in blends. I don’t usually recommend the teachers guides at these early grades, but for this handbook I do. It has some helpful support in teaching reading to your little learner.
Recap and things to remember while teaching phonics
- First, try not to get overwhelmed as you are teaching phonics and blending. Take baby steps, and remember it takes 3-4 years for a child to start reading independently and at a more advanced level. This investment will pay back 10-fold for you and your children in their homeschool journey.
- Second, don’t spend hours a day teaching reading. Children typically do better in small increments of engaged learning. Surprisingly, more will stick the less time it takes each day. We spend anywhere from 5-10 minutes a day at this stage of reading.
- Third, pick a method of teaching that you enjoy. There are so many programs out there that work, but they won’t work for you if you don’t like them. Take time to find your style. Your kids will enjoy it if you do! Learn more about this and get resources in my article How To Start Homeschooling.
- Fourth, enjoy the journey and if you or your child ever get frustrated – put down the book, paper, or whatever materials you are using and come back to it later!
Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
Let me know in the comments what games you play to help your kids learn the blending sounds?
I have 2 favorite things I could talk about endlessly. One of them is homeschooling! I can really nerd out over all the beautiful options of curriculum, school supplies, and getting organized! I just love it all so much! It wasn’t always this way for me. When I decided I’d be homeschooling my daughter, I was scared, lacked confidence, and felt overwhelmed. If you are starting out your homeschooling journey and feel a little lost on where to start, click the link below. This is the blog post I wish I had when I was getting started.
Are you feeling frustrated or burned out by negative emotions in your homeschool? My article about creating a positive homeschool atmosphere might be inspiring and uplifting to you!