Segmenting and Blending:

Children who can segment and blend sounds easily are able to use this knowledge when reading and spelling. Segmenting and blending individual sounds can be difficult at the beginning. Our recommendation is to begin with segmenting and blending syllables. Once familiar with that, students will be prepared for instruction and practice with individual sounds.

When beginning readers sound out words, they slowly say each sound in a word (c-a-t), and then say the sounds quickly together to “read” the word (cat). In reading, teachers call this blending because sounds are being blended together. Blending (combining sounds) and segmenting (separating sounds) are skills that are necessary for learning to read.

Developing a child’s phonological awareness is an important part of developing a reader. Many research studies indicate that kids who have weak phonological awareness also have weak reading skills.

The teaching of segmenting and blending should progress, starting at the sentence level, moving to syllable, and finally to individual phonemes. Be sure to provide lots of practice at the easier level before moving on.


Guess-the-word game

This activity is an example of how to teach students to blend and identify a word that is stretched out into its basic sound elements.

Objective: Students will be able to blend and identify a word that is stretched out into its component sounds.

Materials needed: Picture cards of objects that students are likely to recognize such as: sun, bell, fan, flag, snake, tree, book, cup, clock, plane

Activity: Place a small number of picture cards in front of children. Tell them you are going to say a word using “Snail Talk” a slow way of saying words (e.g., /fffffllllaaaag/). They have to look at the pictures and guess the word you are saying. It is important to have the children guess the answer in their head so that everyone gets an opportunity to try it. Alternate between having one child identify the word and having all children say the word aloud in chorus to keep children engaged.

Blending slide

Teachers can use a picture or small replica of a playground slide and have the sounds “slide” together to form a word.

Oral blending activity

The information here describes the importance of teaching blending skills to young children. This provides suggestions for oral sound blending activities to help students practice and develop smooth blending skills.

Sound blending using songs

This describes how songs can also be used for blending activities. The following activity is to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands.”

If you think you know this word, shout it out!
If you think you know this word, shout it out!
If you think you know this word,
Then tell me what you’ve heard,
If you think you know this word, shout it out!

After singing, the teacher says a segmented word such as /k/ /a/ /t/ and students provide the blended word “cat.”


This activity  is an example of how to teach students to segment, first with sentences, then words, and finally sounds.

  1. Early in phonological awareness instruction, teach children to segment sentences into individual words. Identify familiar short poems such as “I scream you scream we all scream for ice cream!” Have children clap their hands with each word.
  2. As children advance in their ability to manipulate oral language, teach them to segment words into syllables or onsets and rhymes. For example, have children segment their names into syllables: e.g., Ra-chel, Al-ex-an-der, and Rod-ney.
  3. When children have learned to remove the first phoneme (sound) of a word, teach them to segment short words into individual phonemes: e.g., s-u-n, p-a-t, s-t-o-p.

Segmenting cheer activity

This provides teachers with information on how to conduct the following segmentation cheer activity.
Write the “Segmentation Cheer” on chart paper, and teach it to children. Each time you say the cheer, change the words in the third line. Have children segment the word sound by sound. Begin with words that have three phonemes, such as ten, rat, cat, dog, soap, read, and fish.

Segmentation Cheer

Listen to my cheer.
Then shout the sounds you hear.
Sun! Sun! Sun!
Let’s take apart the word sun.
Give me the beginning sound. (Children respond with /s/.)
Give me the middle sound. (Children respond with /u/.)
Give me the ending sound. (Children respond with /n/.)
That’s right!
/s/ /u/ /n/-Sun! Sun! Sun!

Segmenting with puppets

Teachers can use the activity to help teach students about segmenting sounds. The activity includes the use of a puppet and picture cards.

Penny push

Penny push is an activity which can be used without the use of letters/words. Students can push a penny for each sound they hear in isolation.