What are blending and segmenting?
Children must learn two important skills in order to decode text fluently - blending and segmenting. Just like building fortresses out of Lego blocks, blending and segmenting encourage children to break down words into their individual phonemes (segmenting words) and then put the phonemes back together again to form words (blending words).
The more adept children become at manipulating the blocks, the bigger the structures they can construct. The more comfortable they become at segmenting and blending phonemes, the more challenging the words they will learn to read and write.
Learning which sound (phoneme) the letters c, a and t usually make enables a child to read the word cat. Change the first letter from c to h and the child should be able to read hat. Words like cat and hat are the first ones that children learn to read because they are short and consist of a vowel connecting two consonants; other similar examples are sad, fun, mat. Such simple words are referred to as CVC (Consonant-Vowel-Consonant) words.
For example, c-a-t spells cat. Replace c with h to spell hat. The process of segmenting involves breaking words down into individual sounds (c-a-t) and the process of blending involves putting phonemes together to make up words (c-a-t is blended to form cat).
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Learning the alphabet is the first step on every child’s reading journey. Research shows that children with prior knowledge of the alphabet learn to read more easily and more fluently, so it’s vitally important that the alphabet is taught in a playful and engaging way.
When learning their ABCs, children have to understand that each letter has a different shape and name, and that letters combine to form words. By making it clear that the letter A is not just for apple but also for avocado, children learn that A makes a constant sound across different words. Learning the most common sound that each letter makes is an essential, foundational skill that will be built on later when children encounter phonics.
Read our report, A Deep Dive Into Phonics, for more!