Segmenting With a Bead Train

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SWBAT segment words into their individual phonemes and then be able to blend the word back together.

Big Idea

Current reading research says that children need to practice segmenting and blending every day in order to become an effective reader. This lesson will show you how to incorporate segmenting into your daily phonics lesson.

Teacher Background Knowledge and Preparation

      I never really understood the different levels of phonological awareness until I participating in some Common Core reading training. Many colleges and universities do not do a good job of teaching pre-service teachers about phonological awareness and the instruction that needs to happen at each level.  Here is a fabulous article that will tell you more about phonological awareness and what kinds of instruction to include at each level.  

     Phonemic awareness is the most complex skill in the phonological umbrella.  As a teacher, you are going to see the most progress with your students if you include segmenting and blending in your daily phonics lessons.  Today's lesson is one of many fun, hands on activities that you can do with your students to practice segmenting and blending. I originally found this video How To Make A Bead Slide-Tool For Teaching Phoneme Segmentation.mp4 and it does a great job of showing how to actually segment a word apart . I began to make bead trains for my students.  This is one of many tools in our phonemic awareness arsenal. The best part about this activity is that it will only add a few minutes to your daily phonics lesson. To prepare the bead trains you will need shoelaces and wooden beads.  You can find shoelaces at either Walmart or Target.  You will need enough shoelaces to make enough trains for your class.  I was able to make 2 trains from each shoelace.  You will also need  6 wooden beads to make each train.  These are the beads I bought for this lesson.  I needed to buy 2 bags for my classroom.It's fairly easy to assemble the bead trains.  I have the directions here Steps to Making a Bead Train.pdf .It shouldn't take you much time to put these together.  My daughters helped me make a class set of these and it took us about 10 minutes to do so.

      The one thing to remember about phonemic awareness is that practice is all oral. Pictures of an object can be introduced, but children shouldn't be looking at letters.  As a teacher, it's important to always do the phonemic awareness portion of the lesson before the phonics portion.  This way, students can break the word apart orally, then see how letters are associated with the sounds when letters are introduced.  As we practice our phonemic awareness skills we are addressing standards RF1.2, and RF1.2d.

     If your district wants you to use their adopted phonics program that's great.  All you need to do is include this component first before you introduce the letters.  If your district doesn't have an adopted program I have two resources from reading programs that show the scope and sequence of which letters to introduce each week.  You can view them here  Journeys_Scope-Sequence_2014_gradesK-6.pdf , and Phonics_Scope__Sequence.pdf . You will also want the Smartboard Word Tapping and Mapping.notebook or Activboard Word Tapping and Mapping.flipchart  template for our tapping and mapping phonics activity. Lastly, I have made a phonics worksheet for you.  If you don't have an official phonics program, you can download this resource Phonics Practice Sheet.pdf and make a double sided copy for each student.  There are sections for mapping out sounds, writing sight words, and writing a sentence dictation.  I will show you how to use this resource in the phonics section.

Sound Automaticity and Modeling Section (I Do)

5 minutes

     My students have little kits with all of their phonemic awareness tools in them.  I had them pull out their bead trains and set them to the side along with their pencils. I have a set of sound spelling cards that came with my reading series and I mix them up regularly. I say the letter, word, and then sound.  I say this quickly, just like any other flashcard pack, and then the students repeat after me.  We do this daily, so students are working toward automaticity with recognizing the letter and the sound it makes.  If your reading series doesn't have a set of sound spelling cards, you can find some here.  

     After going through our sounds I said, "OK boys and girls.  I am going to show you how I can take a whole word and split up, or segment the word into the different sounds. Watch and listen to me closely."   I took my list of words that we would be working on that day.  Let's say for the purposes of this lesson, I am working on  words with beginning blends. This is what I do.

  • I say the whole word first.
  • I point at my students so they repeat after me, saying the whole word.
  • Then I take my bead train and segment the word apart, pulling a bead for each sound I say.
  • Then I say Word? (This tells the students I want them to blend the word back togethr again.) Then I blend the word back together again, saying the entire word.

     So if I was doing the word stop, I would model it like this:

  • stop
  • (students repeat) stop
  • /s/ /t/ /o/ /p/
  • I say "Word?" And the students tell me, "stop."

     Then I explained to my students what a phoneme was (a sound part).  I asked my students,  "How many phonemes are there in this word?" and students count their beads.  I don't shy away from academic vocabulary.  Students need to know that the term "phoneme" refers to a sound unit. One of the key shifts in Common Core is the emphasis on using and making sure students understand academic vocabulary. I want my students to not just be able to decode and encode, I want them to understand the process behind what they're doing, which means they should understand words like segment, phoneme, grapheme, etc.

    At this point we are concerned about how many letters there are - only how many sounds. Then I say, "reset" and the students know to move all their beads back and get ready for the next word. 

     After I modeled the first word I said, "Now we are going to practice the rest of our words now.  We will work together and you will get to use your bead trains now."

Segmenting Our Words Orally

3 minutes

     The first few times I did this routine with my students I had to do a great deal of modeling and explaining to the students, but they caught on quickly. After doing this routine 2-3 times we could really go through our words quickly. 

     In this video Bead Train Segment.MOV you will see my students and I practicing our segmenting and blending several words with  beginning blends. Even though I only showed 3 words on the clip, I want to point out that we practiced all the  patterned spelling words for the day (not the sight words).  I work along with the students, so students who need more support can have that model of how to segment correctly.

     After segmenting all our words I said, "Now that we've pulled apart our words into our phonemes, we will now map out our words and spell them."

Taking It To the Phonics Level

20 minutes

     I passed out the practice papers for my students and they got out their 5 tokens.  I pulled up my Smartboard lesson and we practiced the exact same words that we had done in the phonemic awareness portion of our lesson.  I made this video Tapping and Mapping sounds.mp4 that shows how we tap our words first, then map them out. After students have mapped out the word, I ask them "How many graphemes does this word have?" Again, I'm using academic vocabulary so students understand the process of how they learn to read. In the video we tapped and mapped the word black.Black has 5 letters but only 4 graphemes because the /ck/ works together to make one sound and so both letters go in one box.  The eventual goal is to be able to have students make the connection that the number of phonemes should equal the number of graphemes.

     After we have mapped our words out, the students write the word again on the line to the right.  The students who don't need much support can write the word easily. The students who need more support have the built in scaffold of copying the word from the map that we've just completed. 

     As students get more confident and fluent with tapping and mapping their sounds, you can support much less.  In the 3rd quarter last year, I noticed that the mapping slowed my students down and really bored them.  So we tapped out the word together and then I would say "OK you write it." Then I would write the word and the students would check to make sure they had spelled the word correctly.  I told them they had to do more of the work because we were getting closer to 2nd grade and this would be expected of them next year.  They loved that and made them feel so grown up.

     After we've spelled our words, we work on the sight words for the week, and then we complete a sentence dictation the utilizes some of our spelling words from today's lesson.  I have some good strategies for how to teach a sentence dictation in this video Rereading Strategy Words With Blends.mp4 .


2 minutes

     After the students are used to this routine you can ask them "Why is it important that we segment our words first?"  I wanted the students to verbalize that segmenting will help them become great readers because they can sound out words well and this will also help them to become awesome spellers.