In this video segment from Between the Lions, the Knights of Blending Fields blend the /b/ and /ox/ sounds to form the word "box ...
Between the Lions: "I?ll Fix Anthony"
This media asset was adapted from the Between the Lions show "I’ll Fix Anthony."
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- For preschool children, it is a good idea to practice blending as just an oral exercise. For example, collect items in a bag and practice separating and blending their word sounds: Who can guess what's in this bag? There's a mmmm…arker, ssssp….oon, p…enny.
- Try doing onset-rime blending with lots of other words, or acting out the “charge together" action we see at Blending Fields. Use words that can be acted out:
nnnn . . . ap
j . . .ump
fff . . . all
sss . . . it
ssnn . . . ore
sssmmm . . . ile
- See if preschoolers can recognize their names when segmented into onsets and rimes: SSS . . . arah, Mmm . . . ario, J . . . enna.
- For kindergarteners, help children think of words that rhyme. Give clues that incorporate word sounds. For example, I'm thinking of a word that starts with a /f/ and ends with an /an/. Or, I'm thinking of something that starts with a /p/ and you use it when you cook bacon and eggs. Remember to focus on the within-word sounds, and not just the letter names.
One of the most important skills that children develop during kindergarten is what’s known as phonemic awareness. This is an understanding that the spoken word is a sequence of separate speech sounds. A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound, and children will need to be able to notice and manipulate these separate sounds to succeed at reading and spelling. The word "sun," for example, contains three phonemes, or sounds: /s/, /uh/, and /n/. Children will need to segment words into phonemes when they attempt to spell them. They will also need to blend these sounds together when they see their letter symbols in print and attempt to read them.
In this video segment, the Knights of Blending Fields take an onset (the beginning word sound), /b/, and a rime (the ending word sounds), -ox, and blend them to make the word "box." The ability to blend word sounds is a skill that reflects phonemic awareness, which strongly predicts children's success in learning to read and spell. That's because reading is not just a visual system; the written word is also a visible representation of sound. If a child has trouble breaking words down into sounds or blending sounds to make words, he or she will stumble when it comes to translating letters into the sounds and meanings of spoken language.
However, literacy research shows that blending is difficult for some children. It needs to be demonstrated and practiced repeatedly. The image of knights charging and pushing their carts together offers a vivid metaphor and helps viewers visualize the blending process.
The word "box" was chosen in part because it is part of a large word family, meaning that if you change either the beginning or ending sounds, many new words can be formed ("fox," "sox," "bat," "ball," for example). Choosing words that are readily changeable make it easier for children to practice their blending skills on other words in the same family. In this case, the word is also something that can be either acted out or shown on screen, which adds meaning. And because the letters that correspond to the word sounds appear on screen, this blending exercise also helps teach phonics, the relationship between letters and the sounds they represent.
Common Core State Standards
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.R.K (Kindergarten ): Reading
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K (Kindergarten ): Foundational Skills
(Kindergarten ): Phonological Awareness
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.R.K.2 (Kindergarten ): Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes).
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.R.K.2 (Kindergarten ): Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes).
- (Kindergarten ): Phonological Awareness
- CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K (Kindergarten ): Foundational Skills