Phoneme Blending

Phoneme blending refers to the ability to identify a word when hearing parts of the word (phonemes or syllables) in isolation. This is a very important step in the development of literacy, as well as general language development.

A child whose skill in this area is emerging will be able to hear two separated words, like snow and ball, and make a compound word, snowball, with them. Next, the child will be able to build two- and three-syllable words out of non-word syllables presented separately; for example, po and ny make pony. A child whose blending skills are proficient can hear the sounds /n/, /o/, and /t/ and tell you that they make note.

Here are some speech therapy activities to use for exercising phoneme blending skills. With the lower-level skills, I encouraged using nonsense words. For this level, I hereby give you my blessing to use real words, because now it is you presenting sounds in isolation, and your child is saying the words. Of course, now it is up to you to remember to use sounds only, and not letter names, when working at the phoneme level. The word note has three sounds, not four (the final e is silent).

Sound Train

For this activity, you'll need a train set and colored blocks or beads as described on my phoneme isolation page. For phoneme blending, though, instead of stating what word you're going to build, you load the "sounds" (or syllables) one at a time and say each sound as you place it on the train: "I'm going to put two sounds on this train, starting with the engine. Shhh; oo. Sh; oo. That makes shoe, doesn't it? Now you i'm going to put some different sounds on the train, and I want you to tell me what word they make. Zzz; oo. Zzz; oo. What word do those make?" Once your child says "zoo," have him give the zoo; train a ride around the track.

Feed The Puppet or Snack Time

The setups for these activities are described on my phoneme deletion page. Again, however, you'll be changing the task to fit the goal.

For Feed The Puppet, instead of stating the target word, you'll pronounce each sound (or syllable) as you feed it to the puppet, and then ask your child to tell you what word the puppet just ate. For Snack Time, it might work better if you put the "sounds" (or syllables) on a plate or napkin and have your child say the word before eating it. This prevents talking with a full mouth, and also allows you to review the word sound by sound if your child gets it wrong on the first try.

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