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Help Your Child Learn to Read: Phonological Awareness Games for Preschoolers- Segmenting and Blending

In my previous blog posts, I walked you guys through what Phonological Awareness is, why these skills are vitally important to the development of reading in children, and the five areas of Phonological Awareness that are vital to reading success. As a refresher, these skills include Rhyming, Segmentation, Blending, Isolation, Deletion, and Substitution. Today we will focus on breaking down sentences, words, syllables (Segmenting) and then Blending them back together! Once your kids get good at this skill reading will become much easier!

Segmentation: When working on segmentation skills with your child, you will want to target dividing sentences, syllables, and phonemes in words. Segmenting sentences often looks like clapping out words in a sentence (i.e., “I – want—to—go—home”), or counting the number of words in a sentence aloud with the use of visuals (such as blocks or coins). It is important when initially working on segmentation to do these tasks orally, without the use of written sentences, so they are able to distinguish the breaks in words within a sentence on their own. Once this skill develops, you can later work with written sentences and point out spaces between words that show when words begin and end.

The next area of segmentation includes the syllable level. Working on syllable segmentation may involve clapping out syllables (or parts of a word) (i.e., “pa—per”, “bas—ket—ball”, “wa—ter—me—lon”). One helpful hint for teaching syllable segmentation is having a child place their hand under their jaw while saying the word. Whenever their jaw drops in the word, it signifies a syllable. This is a great tactile way for kids to learn if they are having difficulty with syllable segmentation. There are a number of different activities that you can use at home, including worksheets placing clips/playdoh on the number of syllables in a word, doting/coloring the number of syllables in the word, or sorting words according to how many syllables they hear.

The final area of segmentation includes the phoneme level. As a refresher, a phoneme is a unit of sound that can distinguish one word from another in a particular language. Examples of phonemes in the English language are all vowel and consonant sounds (/b/, /w/, /e/, /o/), as well as consonant digraphs (th, sh, ch, wh). Segmentation at the phoneme level involves breaking down a word into individual phonemes (i.e., bat ; b—a—t , shop ; sh—o—p). Mastering phoneme segmentation helps future readers learn to break apart sounds in a word, blend them together, and read! Working on phoneme segmentation might initially look like using CVC pictures (i.e. “cat”, “hug”, etc), and saying them aloud slowly with the use of visuals (blocks, coins, small animals your child likes). Once your child becomes accustomed to segmenting individual sounds, then you may bring in other activities, such as sorting by the number of sounds, clipping/coloring the appropriate number of sounds on cards, or segmenting words without pictures entirely.

Sentence Segmentation activities:

Syllable Segmentation Activities:

Phoneme Segmentation Activities:


Blending: When working on blending skills with your child, you will want to target both syllable blending as well as phoneme blending. Syllable blending involves a child listening to a word broken down into syllables and then blending those syllables together to form a full word (i.e., “snow—man” is “snowman”, “bas—ket—ball” is “basketball”). The use of pictures can be highly helpful when working on syllable blending, as it gives kiddos additional visual cues (i.e. picture of butter + picture of a fly = picture of a butterfly) when first learning this skill. As your child becomes more confident, you can slowly fade the use of pictures and complete syllable blending tasks without the use of pictures.

Once a child is consistently able to blend together syllables, then phoneme blending begins! Phoneme blending involves blending together individual phonemes in order to create a word (i.e., “p—o—t” is “pot”, “c—a—m—p” is “camp”). When targeting phoneme blending, it can be helpful to start with the use of the same picture cards used for phoneme segmentation, in order to give children a visual cue during blending tasks. For example, if the target word is “sun”, have a picture of a sun and a pot out in front of them. Next, orally give the child the individual phonemes aloud to blend together, while they look at the given pictures. The picture cues can aid them in quicker auditory blending of sounds, and thus strengthening this skill to eventually be done without use of the pictures. Before you know it, your child will be independently blending together words quickly and accurately!

Syllable Blending Activities:

Phoneme Blending Activities:


Stay tuned in future months for follow up blog posts (from me), which will continue to provide even more Phonological Awareness Games in the remaining areas: Isolation and Deletion/Substitution.