Saturday, October 7, 2017

6 EASY Tips for Teaching Blends (With FREE Sample!)

When it comes to small group guided reading instruction, we have the perfect opportunity to target our instruction to the specific needs of our students. Some students catch on quickly to blending consonant sounds. For those students, continue to practice blends in text, but move on to their next reading goal. Other students, especially those with speech disabilities, struggle with blending consonants. They need more repetitions as well as different instructional presentations in order to be successful, confident readers.

Pull out your toolbox of interventions for your students who need more. When it comes to blending consonant sounds, it's best to have several instructional strategies to pull out. There are many out there, but these are the strategies I have found to work the best for my students and are the easiest to implement. I LOVE easy!

1. Sound Boxes Taped to the Table

The following activity is short and sweet, but can be very powerful for those students who need more practice with hearing/saying the phonemes in a word. Get out 4 sticky notes to start and add more as your students progress with blends.

Once the sticky notes are taped down, all you need is your finger and students' attention. Make sure they are looking at the boxes, not you.
Teacher: Say crab. (teacher sweeps across or under boxes)
Students: Crab (teacher sweeps finger across or under boxes)
Teacher: Sound 
Students: c-r-a-b (teacher points to each box for each sound)
At this point, some students will combine cr for the first sound. It is important that they distinguish the sounds as separate, but be able to blend them together. If this happens, model with the following.
Teacher: My turn. c-r-a-b (teacher models pointing to each box for each sound) Your turn. Say crab. (repeat above until students can say each sound for each box.)

After a few days of this activity with various words, when students are proficient with sound-by-sound blending orally, then move onto identifying individual sounds in the word.

After saying the sounds in the word (above), teacher then points to the first box and says:
Teacher: First sound?
Students: /c/
Teacher: Last sound? (pointing to last box)
Students: /b/

After a few days of practicing initial and ending sounds, move onto second and middle sounds.

Scaffold this activity so you are working at their level for several days for only 1-2 minutes tops each day and build upon the activity until they are able to easily identify individual sounds. Then add boxes as needed to work on longer words with blends.

2. Use Speed Drills Daily

Depending on the skill the group is working on, I use speed drills daily for only 1-3 minutes. Students whisper read each line of sounds or words as I quickly listen to each individual, giving feedback as necessary. Since this is a daily routine, students quickly start reading, I listen, and then we move on to the next activity. Every week I pull out new drills that specifically target each group's goals. In order to save precious instruction time, have them ready to go in that group's bin.
Find all my drills for various skills including sight words HERE.

Get a FREE Speed Drills Sample HERE.

3. Using Magnetic Letters to Build Words

I like to use magnetic letters because they are fun, as well as quick and easy for students to put back into place. And BONUS... they are very effective for teaching blends. I first saw this strategy used years ago in a Jan Richardson demonstration and modified it to fit my instructional needs.
Tip: I display a giving tree at open house and magnetic letters is one of my requests. 
First I purchased 6 small cookie sheets at WalMart for 88 cents each. Seriously. 88 cents. They are small enough to place in front of each student in a small group or at a center.
Next, I used a sharpie to mark where each letter goes so students can quickly put letters back.
I place them in a basket with other guided reading tools I use for the week (Expo markers, old socks for erasing, sight word cards, etc.)

I say a word, they quickly build it. I tell them to mix it up and build it again. We repeat this process 2-3 times with different words and it takes 2-3 minutes from start to finish. It works because it is a daily routine that students learn to anticipate and know quickly what to do, taking very little time. Words can be built right on the table. The metal pan is only used for keeping the letters in ABC order for storage.

4. Roll and Read Blends Center

Once I feel my students can attack those blends more independently or with a partner, I include Roll and Read Beginning Blends Activities in their centers. I don't use these during instruction since this is a game for fluency practice. I reserve my guided reading time for activities that require guidance from me. These stay as a May Do activity for a week and then I change them out each week. (See my Must Do, May Do blog HERE.)
See other Roll and Read Activities HERE.

5. Word Family Flip Books Center

My students love making these Word Family Flip books and reading the words over and over. There is practice with short and long vowels and various blends. 
First they cut up each part and then staple them into small books with one staple. Then they read each word and determine whether it is a real word or not a real word. This forces them to carefully read each word. Easy Peasy!
See all of my Word Family Flip Books HERE.

6. Consonant Cluster Pocket Chart Center

The pocket chart center one of my students' favorite centers. I change it out weekly depending on their skill level. With this center, students simply organize the words under the correct blend. Super easy and they work so well with a partner to complete this center activity. Then they must read each word in each column. LOVE!
See this Consonant Cluster Pocket Chart Center HERE.
See all my Pocket Chart Centers HERE.

Let me know your thoughts!

Thanks for stopping by! ♥


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    2 comments:

    1. I really like your idea of writing with a sharpie where the letters go with the cookie sheets and magnetic letters. That's an awesome idea I'd be using if I still taught reading or first grade. It's digital literacy this year. Thank you for all of the useful strategies! Jan Richardson has awesome ideas. Especially her book - The Next Steps in Guided Reading.

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      1. Hello The Reading Shop! So nice that you stopped by! Yes, Jan Richardson is wonderful and I've learned so much from her. We use the magnetic letters daily, especially at the beginning of the year and the kids love it. They are so quick at putting the letters back in place when they are marked with a Sharpie. I will be learning more about digital literacy with a class I am taking. Exciting!
        Thanks again for stopping by and leaving a comment.
        ~Joyce

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