Segmenting & Blending Sounds

These are a few simple ways I try to help my visual and tactile learners practice segmenting the sounds in words. This is especially helpful if their auditory discrimination skills are still developing.  This way, they can connect hearing the sounds with something they can also see and feel.  

The tool we like best is the one that uses pony beads on a pipe cleaner.  They're so easy and inexpensive that I can easily make one for each child.  

Introducing the Tool

At first, we just work with words that have 2 sounds and I specifically use a green and red bead.  We slide the green bead (GO) for the 1st sound in the word and then the red bead (STOP) for the last sound in the word.  Then we slide them back together to blend both sounds as we say the whole word fluently.  

When they're ready, you can introduce words with 3 sounds. When I do this, I add a yellow bead to represent the middle sound in the word.  We usually start with basic CVC words, but I eventually want them to understand that sometimes it takes 2 letters to make 1 sound.  That's when we start segmenting words like:


Each of these words contain 3 sounds, but have more than 3 letters.  This helps create a foundation I can build upon when I'm ready to add the phonics instruction to their growing understanding of phonemes.  

Want to practice segmenting words with more sounds?  Just add more beads. 

We use the pipe cleaner beads often, but you could also use blocks, snap cubes, counters, or bingo chips... anything they can see and touch.  Whenever you engage more than one sense at a time, the opportunity to understand and remember increases. 

Do you have another way of teaching segmenting sounds that works?  This is so hard for some children.  Leave an idea in the comments below, if you do.  

Happy teaching!

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