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I’m currently teaching my younger daughter to read. She knows all her letters, most of her sounds, and has all the pre-reading skills I recommend before teaching a child to read.
But we’ve been hitting a little bit of a wall with blending sounds.
She’ll see a word like this: wag, and she’ll say the sounds /w/ /a/ /g/ … “Pat?”
Woah … where did pat come from?
Actually, this isn’t all that uncommon. It can be hard for kids to keep all those sounds in their short term memory long enough to put them together to make the right word.
That’s where successive blending comes in.
Here’s a video that shows exactly how it works.
If you prefer a picture tutorial, here you go:
I created a set of cards – one set for the first sound, one for the middle sound, and one for the ending sound. The first cards are all letters that are used in CVC words. The middle letters are all vowels. The final letters are all letters we often see at the end of CVC words (so, for example, you won’t find an h or a j in the last stack of cards).
To play, simply flip over the first card and say its sound. Have your learner repeat it after you. /h/
Flip over the second sound. Have your learner repeat it. /a/
THEN (and this is key), push those first two sounds together. Say their combined sound. /haaa/ Have your learner repeat it.
Flip over the final card. Say its sound. /t/ Have your learner repeat it.
Now put all the sounds together. First … /ha/ /t/. Then, /haaat/. Have your learner repeat it.
For my daughter, the favorite part of this activity was determining whether the words were real or silly.
If you have learners struggling to blend sounds, or you’re simply introducing this skill, I strongly recommend successive blending! I learned about it from the wonderful book, Making Sense of Phonics (check it out if you’d like to learn more about teaching phonics!).
Decodable Passages: CVC Words
Use these 23 decodable passages to help new readers develop fluency with CVC words. Each page includes blending practice, a short reading passage, a comprehension question, and spelling practice.
Do you have anything like this using beginning and ending blends? Love this idea for helping kids that “lose” sounds by the time they get to the end of the word!
We do have a set that includes blends in our membership, but it’s not on the main site or shop. I agree that successive blending does the trick for so many kids who are getting stuck on blending!
It’s not showing up correctly. Half on the pdf is cut off. I’d really like to try this.
Heather Groth, Customer Support
Hi Keisha! Our resources work best when using Adobe Reader. If your computer doesn’t have it yet, you can get it for free here, https://get.adobe.com/reader/. If that doesn’t solve the problem, feel free to send us a message at email@example.com and we’ll continue to help you troubleshoot!
No, that isn’t something I do. Sometimes there are weird things that happen. Please try again. When I tried it, it took me directly to the pdf.
Thank you so much for this! I work with Deaf and Hard of Hearing students so we do a lot of phonological awareness type activities. Lately they have been struggling with the whole blending idea. I can’t wait to try this. Did you say this is a better method than say doing word families? CA. T. Vs C. AT
This is a great question, Sheena! I honestly think that both methods are helpful, but successive blending is something kids can carry with them for a longer time, since sounding out with word families only works with a limited set of words. I like to use word families as a first step, and after kids have the general idea I think it’s good to move into successive blending. But you would not need to use the word family approach at all if you didn’t want to. This podcast episode will be helpful: https://www.themeasuredmom.com/7-tips-for-helping-kids-sound-out-words/
I love this and was wondering if you have an add on to these cards with beginning and ending Blends/Digraphs. I have a student I am working with that I feel staying consistent with this approach will be important. I could make them, but thought I would ask!
Heather Groth, Customer Support
Hi Annie! Yes, we do! If you’re a member of The Measured Mom Plus, the blending cards with blends and digraphs are all included! Here’s a link to the membership site so that you can check it out, https://membership.themeasuredmom.com/dashboard/. Happy Teaching!
Thank you so miuch for this, it has reduced the work i had planned to do earlier. i truly appreciate this. Thumbs up!
This is wonderful. I can’t wait to try it out. I just wanted to know how would I set this up? Do I create the words? Than make the pile?
Hi Daniela! This is Kate, Anna’s assistant. After you print the cards, you’ll see that the letters have symbols underneath to indicate beginning, middle, or ending sounds. Please match the cards until you have three piles. Then you can make words. You’ll find some words are real and some are not, but all will help teach successive blending. I hope that helps! Be sure to read through the post again to understand what I mean. Thanks!
Hi! I am currently looking for ways to help one of my struggling readers and I’m wondering which approach is better- successive blending, or word families? We will be blending words and I’ll model it for her. “s-aaa-g. sag.” I’ll ask her to do it and most often she will say, “s-aaa-g. gag.” or if the word is “gas” it becomes “sas.” Anyway, thanks for your resources and help in advance! I love your website!
I would do both – short sessions of intense successive blending practice, and then a lot of games/printables using the word families.
Jordan shared this idea with us on the Reading Simplified facebook page, incase you are wondering how come so many ‘Reading Simplified converts’ are posting comments! LOL! 🙂
This method of ‘blending AS you read’ is such a game changer!! I wish I had known about it years ago!! It really helps with the “c-a-t…..tap?” answers to the sound-sound-sound “sounding-out” approach. The only additional thing I would suggest that’s really helped my students is to hold the vowel sound even longer – almost sing it & get child to ‘sing’ it and then it’s easier to add that final sound and get the word correct.
So if the word is ‘hat’ this would be my dialogue: “Let’s sound it out. What’s the first sound? ‘h’ and the next sound ‘a’…now let’s put this 2 sounds together….haaaaaaaa…and what’s this last sound, let’s add ‘t’, so it’s haaaaaa-t, hat.”
I’m thrilled to hear that so many of you are finding success with this, Mim! Thanks for the tip with the short vowel!
I use the strategies is Reading Simplified in my tutoring! I’m so glad I found this goldmine!
Love the freebie, thanks! I’ve been learning about this method through the curriculum Reading Simplified. I’ve been using Dr. Ginsburg’s Blend As You Read method with some of my struggling tutoring students and it has made SO much of a difference! I wish I had known this technique earlier. It makes so much sense! If you make any more material using this technique, please share!
Love this! Thank you ?
I love the video, it is gonna help some of my students who are struggling to blend.Thank you Anna.
You’re very welcome, Sarah!
Thank you for sharing all these ressources.
Thank you for sharing , it’s an awesome idea.
I absolutely love this! thank you so much for sharing and making the materials to go along with it.
You’re very welcome, Jean!
This is awesome! Sometimes a solution is so simple but we can’t see it for the trees! How many times do you see that a child can sound each letter out but can’t put them together? There is always 1-4 students in the class. This definitely keeps the sounds from getting all jumbled up before it can come back out. The biggest learning disability, in my opinion, is processing. This will definitely help!!
When I taught Self-Contained kids with Intellectual Disabilities, we used this strategy BERY successfully! The one thing I did differently though, which made ALL the difference for a lot of them, was we spent quite a while on JUST sounding out/blending two letters at a time. For example, ba…bi…bo…bu… with all the common consonants. Only then did we start adding a third sound, and we did it very systematically: bag, bad, ban, bam, bat, back (I taught /ck/ as one sound at the same time, here) before moving on to cab, can, cap, cat. Etc.
Almost ALL of my students were successful with this method, despite their disabilities, and this is how I’m teaching my own child with Down Syndrome, now! ❤️
Thank you for sharing your experience, Liz! This is great to hear!
I hope it’s ok for me to jump in here and leave a comment! 🙂
Liz: I’ve had to go back and use this very basic blending approach with some of my youngest tutoring kids – that is, to just blend a consonant and a vowel sound before ever thinking of moving onto cvc words!
I saw an idea once (I wish i could show you a picture!) where a vowel is written or glued on the end of a wooden iceblock/pop stick and held in front of a consonant letter and the child has to blend the 2 letters. And then the vowel is held after a consonant and the child blends the two together. I have the consonants printed vertically down a page, in large print, and laminated. I glued 2 of each vowel to the pop stick, one on the left end, and one on the right end, so the vowel was always the right way up (i.e. one stick is used for the ‘before the consonant’ exercise and the other is used for the ‘after the consonant’.)
The kids really enjoyed moving the stick up and down the list themselves! I chopped the list into 4 and put a metal ring through a hole in the corner.
SOME of the combinations won’t work, so I put a coloured dot before or after that letter so the child would know to skip it!
For example ‘h’ is difficult to have a vowel p0laved in from of it, but it’s easy to say ‘ha, he, hi, ho, or hu’ so that letter had sticker in front of it. Ditto with ‘x’ – it had a sticker after it as ax, ex, ix, ox, & ux are easy but xa, xe, xi, xo, or xu are tricky, so we skipped it!
Hope that helps 🙂
I’m really excited about this! I teach dyslexia classes and my kids really struggle to bled sounds together. They’ll say three sounds over and over without getting any closer to blending. They also struggle to keep the sounds in the right order when they blend. I’ve done something similar by just covering up the ending letter but I really like the idea of using this as quick practice/game outside of their regular reading practice. Thanks so much for the video! It was great to see it in action and your daughter sounds so cute. “Wat” really cracked me up!
I’m so glad this was helpful, Carrie! 🙂
This is a great idea! I’m excited to try it with my daughter. Thank you! 🙂
You’re very welcome, Samuha!
Thank you so much for this resource!! How do you keep it organized? I noticed that there are several of some letters (like “b”), but only a couple of another letter. I have put hole punches in the top of each letter card so I can make a “flip” board. But I can’t seem to get my mind around how to have the letters stacked, other than the beginning sounds, vowels, and ending. Does this make sense??
Hi Megan! It sounds like you’ve done about what i would do to stack them – the only thing is that if your child is new to CVC words you might put just the a’s on top for the middle stack, since it’s easiest to start with just one short vowel. Otherwise I’d just shuffle the cards and link them together as you’ve done. 🙂
I really think this is the best way to teach blending words one -on-one or in a very small group. Thank for sharing as always I enjoy your ideas ?
You’re welcome, Carlene!
Thank you for this great resource! Would love to see another set with some final blends, such as in “camp” and “test”, to take this idea to the next level.
Thanks, I will think about that! I may share one as a subscriber freebie.
Thank you for the wonderful beautiful resources .They are most helpful.?
You’re very welcome, Rashida!
This is great! Do you have this game for CCVC words?
Yes, Olivia, I created a version with blends and digraphs for the membership site. If you decide to join The Measured Mom Plus, let me know, and I’ll help you find them! 🙂
Wow! Love this! It really seems to help things CLICK! Can’t wait to try it THIS way!
I’m glad you like it, CeeCee!
Thank you for this resource, it will help my students tremendously!
You’re welcome! I hope you find many helpful resources on my site.
Thank you so much for all your free resources!!
Thanks Ana, these are wonderful. Thanks for the amazing video tutorial, my 4 year old saw it and she is all excited about it. I am gonna try it.
Thank you so much for your idea about teaching successive blending. I printed it off straight away and used it with my little groups today. I love it and the simplicity of it. Appreciate your efforts in keeping the lessons so interesting.
I’m so glad that was helpful, Averil! 🙂
I love this, the only thing that I would comment on is the sound for ‘w’. This sound is easier for poor spellers if said using the pure sound as in ‘windmill’ almost like woo, but a shorter sound than oo. ‘Wuh’ is to sounds, w and the schwa uh. Using this sound a word like wig would be read wuhig. For dyslexic spellers this can be really challenging. Often when testing poor spellers in higher grades they still struggle to spell, as these schwas get in the way; huh, juh, muh, puh etc. Lots are now being taught with pure sounds, but as teachers we can cause real problems for some spellers if we introduce these sounds with the added ‘uh’.
I love all the posts, but I thought this might help those with students that really struggle.
Sorry, that should be ‘two’ sounds. Pressed send too quickly 😉
Love the set up?
Are the q’s printed as p’s ?
There are no q’s in the file, because the printable is for CVC words, and there are no CVC words with q.
This is so great! I’m working in CVC with my students right now. Thanks for the new strategy. I think the putting together of the first 2 sounds will be a good strategy for some of my kiddos who struggle to keep the sounds.
This is exactly how I teach my special education students (1st and 2nd grade), but we use a blending board.
This strategy works great to help my students blend sounds together to read real and make-believe words. It is almost always the last sound that trips them up and will make them say something different. But having them sound out the first two sounds, and blend just those two sounds together first really helps. Then they can say the last sound and repeat (sometime resound out the first two sounds) and then blend the last sound with the first two has always helped my students become readers.
Thank you so much for your feedback, Kristina! I had looked online to see if we could purchase a blending board, but I just saw DIY blending boards. Did you purchase yours?
Yes, successive blending is great for those children who struggle with blending! I tried it last year with a student who was struggling and it really helped her. I found out about it through your Teaching Every Reader course – thank you so much!
I’m so glad to hear that, Carol! 🙂
We do something a little bit different. We start by doing each sound individually, then move to doing the first sound by itself and then the last two together (onset and rime), and finally all three together. This also helps with learning word families and rhyming. Like your daughter, my students absolutely love determining if it’s a real or nonsense word!…. Thanks much for the blending cards!
Yes! This is actually the way I usually teach sounding out words, which is why I have so many word family activities on my site. I didn’t need successive blending with my older kids, but I’m finding that it’s what my current new reader needs.
Thank you so much Anna!
My students are gonna love this and I must say that your daughter is doing pretty well.!??
Thank you, Priscilla!
Hi ! Thanks for sharing this amazing resource but I had a question . Do you teach them to combine the first two sounds in the word or the last two like for cat would it be /ca/ and then/ t /or /c /and then /at/. Look forward to your response
I would do the first two sounds and then the final sound. But the other way you’re mentioning is also a great way to teach beginning readers; it’s teaching with word families. You’ll find many, many resources on my site that you can use with that approach. I just want to be clear that with this approach, you work with the first two sounds first.
Thanks a lot. This is great and give me idea to do based this resource. I also can modify it into my language
I’m glad this is helpful, Whindi!
Thank you. This is a great resource to use with my intervention groups.
You’re welcome, Marlene!
Exactly how the kids do it. “S-a-t” map…… I will give it a try. It’s been quite difficult to get the kids I teach to read CVC words.
I hope this helps, Kay!
I will try this with my son, he is 5 and we have difficulties to get him to read.
Hugs from Honduras
You’re welcome, Zenia!
This is perfect timing for me! Exactly what I need to help a little boy I teach who has difficulty blending. I can’t wait to try this out with him! Thank you!
I hope he has success with it, Amy! 🙂
I needed this email to remind me all children have short term memory! Thank you!!!
I know what you mean! It’s easy to jump to conclusions when children have this issue, but often it’s just something they need to get the hang of.
Maria Elena Trujillo
Thanks for sharing. My students will love it.
You’re welcome, Maria!
Thank you. its a lovely resource!!
You’re welcome, Vandana!
Thank you so much for this gooood idea. It is realy help me to teach my student how they can read .
You’re welcome, Fairouz!
I love this idea. Excellent work. I will try this in my class.
Thank you for the idea I’m going to try it with my daughter
Thanks you for this. I have been struggling to teach my son blending and i think this will help.
Let me know how it goes, Jenn!
I have a kiddo with severe adhd, apraxia & dyslexia. We have worked for years to get sound automaticity down, segmenting (check), sound manipulation, sight words starting to stick (yes!), but blending oh Momma Mia. It was so very difficult because with apraxia that short term memory is even shorter and sounds scrambles a different way every day. I saw this post last night and I thought, “That’s it!!” We tried it today and it was a total game changer! Wow – thank you so much for sharing this strategy!!
Yay!!! This is so exciting for you and your child, Jeni! Thank you so much for sharing your success with this!