Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Phonological Awareness- segmenting and blending sounds

Segmenting and blending sounds together is a more difficult skill but if you informally introduce and "play" with words, the children will start to grasp the concept.  It's a necessary skill for reading success.

As an early reader, segmenting is simply seperating the sounds of a word.  So, the sounds of cat would be /c/ /a/ /t/ the sounds of tie would be /t/ /i/.  However, when starting with preschoolers we start with seperating words in a sentence, move to compound words, then syllables and then the sounds in a word.

 Blending is putting the sounds together to make a word.  I mentioned the book Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons in the last post.  Another aspect that I like about this book is their visual cues for sounds as well as for blending together the word.  The following pictures were scanned from the book to show you the visuals I've found benefitial.

Note the arrow with the starting dot; the dots under the letters that make the sound; and the little letter-which means it's silent.  The child places their finger at the starting dot and slides to the first dot under the first letter stating it's sound, then to the next dot, stating it's sound and so on.  Then the book teaches "say it fast" so the child starts at the starting dot again but sliding faster.  The arrow also gives the child a visual to teach left to right progression.   (Understand that as the child progresses through the book, the amount of visuals lessen so the children do not get dependent on having to have the visual to read a word.)   The next picture shows how they help the children read a sentence.

Note that the arrow has been extended to each line, giving the children a visual to start from left to right on each line.  The first sentences they learn have a black square between each word because often children do not notice the space between words, just as when they are beginning to explore writing they put all their letters together in a line without spaces.  Those black squares are only shown at the beginning sentences and then they move to obvious spaces.  They still have the dots under the letters that make the sound as well as the smaller letters for the silent letters.  Other visuals they have are "squishing" two letters together or underlining two letters to represent that these two letters make one sound.

Here's a pdf document that has some basic ideas for segmentation activities.  http://www.pcboe.net/les/elderweb/phoneme%20segmentation/Phoneme%20Segmentation%20Games-1.pdf

I've done many of the activities that has been mentioned in that pdf document with success.  The Elkonin boxes I simply call sound boxes.  I've made it theme related by creating my own boxes.  For example, I created a train with up to four cars and we look at pictures and said the word and then placed chips in the sections we heard.

The One Little Sound CD by Hap Palmer that I mentioned in yesterday's post also has blending and segmenting songs, including use of onsets and rimes.

With blending, I like to use letter manipulatives that have some space between each letter and then we squish them together as a tactile approach to blending.  Lakeshore Learning has an elastic strap that is used for segmenting and blending words. It has cards that attach to the strap with velcro.

Go to http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/ and request a catalog.  They have lovely products, though a bit on the expensive side.  I love to browse the catalog when it comes in the mail.  Often I can make "home-made" versions of some of the products.  Sometimes it's worth it, sometimes it's not.  Their products definately get your mind going about all the things you can be doing with your children!

In the book Teach Your Child how to Read in 100 Easy Lessons many of the first lessons have a compound word task where the adult says two words and the child "blends them together" to say the compound word.  This falls back to the different levels of segmenting that was mentioned above with starting a seperating words in a sentence and moving to compound words.  The point of these tasks is really the beginning of blending sounds together.  You may wish to start with that type of a blending activity if your child is young or is having a difficult time putting sounds together.  Here is a cute activity from the Mailbox publication Phonological Awareness Fun

A Blending Boa
To make the snake manipulative insert a Slinky into a dark-colored knee sock. Stretch the sock and the Slinky so that the toe of the sock fits snugly around one end of the Slinky.  Tuck the sock opening into the other end of the Slinky.  Add two wiggle eyes and a red felt tongue and the boa is ready to blend.  Create picture cards (this book has picture word cards you can copy-but  it's easy enough to make your own).  Tape a pair of corresponding cards to opposite ends of the snake. Pull the snake apart as much as possible and say each picture word.  Then slowy push the snake together while the child repeatedly says the words with less and less silence between them.  Finally, when the cards meet, pronounce the compound word that the two words form.  Continue with other word pairs. 

And of course a song for you.

Tune: The Mulberry Bush
What word sounds like /b/ /a/ /t/, /b/ /a/ /t/, /b/ /a/ /t/?
What word sounds like /b/ /a/ /t/?
Say it now for me!

I'm not a big "screen time" person.  We keep it to a minimum, though it does have it's place.  I like the Word World DVD's.  Number 1) they are purely educational and gives the children an introduction to blending letters/sounds to make words.  Number 2) the segments are less than 10 minutes long.  So no sitting in front of a TV or computer for very long at all.  I have yet to meet a child who does not like these little videos.  So that may be an option for you also. 

Our local library rents these at .50/DVD for 3 weeks.  If you choose to purchase, be aware of the titles of the segments.  Some have "repeats". 

Have fun playing with words!

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