So, you’ve covered letter sounds, vowels, digraphs, double final consonants, and you’ve added that “s” to your nouns so that they can be plural. Your readers are soaring to new heights. Now, it’s time for blends!
When two or more consonants are next to each other, this is called a blend. And sorry, vowels, but you’re not invited to this party. Blends can’t be separated by vowels. Each letter in a blend is meant to be heard, but at a fast pace. This gives them their “blend” sound and, hence, their name. Blends can be found in the beginning or at the end of words. Beginning blends are exactly what they sound like – consonant blends that come at the beginning of a word.
Blends are such an important aspect of reading because they are all around us. Because blending requires the brain to join sounds together, learning blends also helps students gain skills they need to decode unknown words in a text. And with explicit, direct phonics instruction and background, blends can come easily to students. With mastery of blends, students are able to decode more words and expand their vocabulary. But how to teach them? Take a look at some super simple (and fun!) ways to teach blends in your classroom or at home.
4 Simple Activities for Beginning Blends
One of my favorite ways to introduce a concept is to do some board work together as a class. This is a great way to involve everyone, and it still gives students who are early in their understanding a chance to observe and learn by watching others.
Blends List and Class Sort
- Start by writing some beginning blends on the board (sl, gl, sk, cl, etc.) and make columns for each.
- Students then come up to the board and, under the correct blend, write words they know that begin with those blends.
- Variation: Who doesn’t love a good pocket chart activity!? This activity can also be turned into a pocket chart sorting game by printing out images of objects that begin with blends as well as cards with blends on them. Students match up the image cards to the appropriate blends.
Blend Roll & Find
Games are such a great way to introduce a new concept or practice one that students already know. They’re perfect for indoor recess, individual centers, or partner activities! Also – if you don’t have dry erase blocks, run (don’t walk) to the store to grab some. They’re the perfect versatile classroom tool!
- Grab a dry erase block (these are sometimes called dry erase block dice) and write down various blends on each side.
- Students roll the die.
- When they’ve landed on a blend, have them say a word containing that blend.
- After they’ve said the word, they can either draw a picture of it or find it around the classroom. For example, if the child rolls an “sl-”, they might draw a picture of a sled, find a slide outside their classroom window, or even slap their hands!
I have yet to meet a student who doesn’t love to highlight or color in a rainbow pattern. This activity is particularly great because students will find blends in context instead of in isolation. After students have done other blend activities, this is the perfect follow up.
- Pass out some highlighters or fun coloring utensils to the class.
- Give each student a book that’s okay to write in or a short passage (fluency passages work great!)
- Students will read the book or passage and highlight or circle the blends they find.
This is an activity that will take a bit of prep on your part, but it’s a great way to practice a variety of blends since there are quite a few!
- Simply fill out bingo cards with various beginning blends inside each box (don’t forget the free space!)
- Then, make a pile of cards that have images with beginning blends on them. Examples could include clap, string, grass, slip, etc.
- Pass out the bingo cards to your students and play the game by drawing the image card and calling out the image.
- For an added bonus, when you display or say the image, have your students repeat the blend back to you.
Beginning Blends Printables
All of these blend activities are sure to be a hit in your classroom and help your students master blends with little prep. But who doesn’t love saving the best things for last? My Beginning Blends Reading Intervention Mats make learning and practicing blends easy, simple, and oh-so effective.
These mats help early and emergency readers not only practice beginning blends, but also develop their early literacy skills. Students will focus on phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension on just every page of these mats. Students will decode and build confidence as readers, and you’ll spend hardly any time prepping for them to do so. These mats are simple and easy to print, yet cover a wide variety of literacy components.
When you purchase my Beginning Blends Reading Intervention Mats (or, if you’re looking for a different phonics component, my Reading Intervention Mats GROWING Bundle is here to save your day), you’ll receive 46 Reading Intervention Mats focused on a variety of beginning blends that students can complete in a small group, large group, or even independently. The beginning blends include sc-, sk-, sm-, sn-, st-, so-, sw-, bl-, cl-, fl-, gl-, pl-, and sl-. The gift of time is yours when you purchase these mats for your classroom because printing these mats could not be easier. They were made with your precious time in mind.
These mats are perfect for a variety of educators: classroom teachers, special education teachers, reading interventionists, classroom aids, parents, ESL teachers, tutors, and for students as take home and independent work. One of the best aspects of these mats is the variety in which they can be used. From large to small groups, centers to partner work. One of my favorite things to do with these versatile mats is to laminate them or simply slip them into a dry erase pocket for continued use as a literacy center.
Once you see these beginning blends mats at work in your classroom, you’ll want to check out the Reading Intervention Mats Bundle – that’s growing! Now you can focus on a variety of phonics components as your students continue their reading journey. And as they do, I’ll be here every step of the way helping you guide them through the wonderful world of reading.