Phoneme Segmenting and Blending

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SWBAT practice isolating and pronouncing the initial sounds in CVC words.

Big Idea

Now that you can hear the beginning... you can learn to find the rest- putting it all together will be your test!

Why This Lesson?

1 minutes

Teaching students to hear all of the sounds in words is the final and most important step in their phonological awareness development. 

We really need to spend a lot of time teaching our students how to hear each, singular sound. 
Once students can truly hear each sound, they can read and write much more fluently and successfully.

I like to teach phonemic awareness skills methodically.  I start at the sentence level, then move to the syllable level, then to onset-rime recognition, and finally to phoneme recognition. I do so because children who have phonemic awareness skills are likely to have an easier time learning to read and write than children who have few or none of these skills.  
Students will need to build their skills with words and sentences, then syllables and onset-rime sets before participating in this activity. 
(This means that students who are able to track print probably will not need to practice this routine.  Students who cannot hear the larger chunks in words will need more practice with syllables and onset-rime before working on this.)

Since this is the last step in the phonological awareness process, it is important that I remember the steps in order:
word recognition (sentences)

syllable recognition
onset-rime recognition

phoneme recognition

I don’t use much for this activity, but I do need to create and utilize my “baggie packets" with either all materials, or just those for phoneme practice. Click here to see what is included in the packets and how to make them!


Instructional Process

10 minutes

This introduction should be done at least once in small groups.  With my lower groups, I will repeat this introduction a few times to make sure students understand the rules and the process.
I definitely have students engage with this lesson a few times per week throughout the first half of the year. 

Phonemic awareness of all individual sounds is a very hard practice to master for kindergarteners.  Moving manipulatives is extremely brain-connected and it will strengthen students’ skills immensely.


"A phoneme is an individual, small sound that we can hear.  Each word has many phonemes, or small sounds.  Words are made up of many different sounds; and each one is called a phoneme. Can you say phoneme?"
(Students will say "Phoneme.")
"Right!  Each small sound we hear in a word is called a phoneme!  Today, I am going to work with you to segment and hear each individual sound, or phoneme in a word."

I need one baggie to model using the manipulatives for my students.

I make sure to talk about the color that represents phonemes.
I continue to reinforce that a phoneme is one single sound.  And, when I use my paper pieces, I make sure they are facing the students so they can see what it will look like right in front of them.

I begin with CVC words.
"Watch how I pull out each individual sound, or phoneme in the word.  My word is: mat."  
As you say mat, you will run your finger under three squares, as they are touching.  They are touching to show that all of them put together make up one word. "Mat."

"Now, listen to me pull out each sound, one at a time.  M...... a….. t."

Pull one square apart at a time, as you say "m"... “a”…”t."

"Now I will touch each sound, one at a time.
(Touch each square as you say each part.)


"Now, I will blend the word back together." (Move the three squares so they are touching again.) 

"My cat can sit on a mat."
(I make sure to have the students repeat all of my sentences, to make a connection.)


I take out my baggies and pass one to each student.  You will go through the same process, listed above, with my students.  At this point, I need to continue to model as they do it- they will most likely have to watch and follow me for the first few words.  
I continue to use CVC words throughout the lesson and do one other (non-CVC)word at the end of this lesson.  CVC words are a lot easier for kindergarteners to hear in the initial lesson.

"We are going to find each, individual sound, or phoneme in words.  Our word is: sit."

I have them put their squares together and connected. 
"Let's say our word: sit.  We need to run our finger under the word as we say it.... sit"

"Now, let's move one square for each sound you hear in the word sit." 

As they say sit, show them to move their squares from left to right.  
"Touch s… touch i… touch t."

"Now, we have found all of the sounds s…i…t. 
Let's stick them back together and blend them into one word."
Students should move their squares back together where they are touching.

"Use your finger as we say the whole word.... Sit." (I make sure students track under the whole word- if they don't show them how and do that last part again.)

"I can sit still in my seat."
I make sure to repeat and let them practice, scaffolding down my support.


I make sure to see how the groups do with a word by themselves.  If they were able to do this well, I move on and work on many different words.  If the groups were unable to find the beginning sounds in the words very well, I repeat this same lesson next time... 
If I repeat the lesson again to re-teach, I can skip the introductory part and just jump into it.

*Attached is an anchor chart to use to teach students about phonemes and to refer to or hang up throughout the year.

Student working on Phoneme Segmenting


10 minutes

This practice can be done in small or whole group and can be practiced as many times per week, throughout the year, as necessary.  However, once students are able to hear individual sounds on a consistent basis, this practice should be done less intensively.

The routine is as follows:

The teacher says the word.

The students say the word.

"Now we will pull out each sound in the word.  Our word is: ________."

Students will run their finger under all of the squares as they are touching.  
They are touching to show they are one word. Students will say the word.

"Now, we will pull out each phoneme or sound, one at a time, with our squares and touch each part as we say it."

Students will pull one square apart at a time, as you say each sound in the word.

Students will touch one square and say that individual sound, then move to the next sound and do the same.

"Now, we will blend the word back together." 

Students will say the whole word.

Have a student use the word in a sentence.


Once students have a solid understanding of phonemic awareness and are able to hear individual sounds fluently, I only have them participate in this process every once in a while to reinforce the skill.

Extending this Lesson

10 minutes

I think it is important to have students repeat this practice as often as possible. 
In the beginning, I try to only have students practice phoneme segmentation with me in small groups (because I want them to follow the my solid rules and depend on the practice we have worked with).  But, once students are doing well with with this practice and have their solid foundation, I like to put different phonemic segmentation activities in centers throughout the year. 
Attached are some different phonemic segmentation centers that I like.  I like to have students practice segmenting in different ways, as it builds their strategy bank up and helps them have more places to turn to when sounding out words while reading and writing.