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Blending Letter Sounds

by Lynn Maslen Kertell


Before the next step, make sure your child knows the sounds of the alphabet. Can they can tell you the sound bbbb when they see the letter b? Do they know a-a-apple starts with the sound aaa, and letter name aye?


Before reading, the next step is to learn to blend the sounds. This starts as speaking and listening skills first. Once blending sounds is learned, blending letters will be easy.  


To learn to blend letter sounds, start with them separately. To blend the word sat, start with sounds aaa, ttt. Say them separately, and ask your child to repeat. Now stretch out the aaaa tttt. You will notice the aaaa can stretch out, but t is quick. Have your child repeat or say with you: aaaaa tt.


Now say them together: at. Practice a few times, then try with other combinations; am, et, og, ut. Make up your own. Focus on the idea of blending the sounds.


If you have cards or letter magnets, now is a fine time to bring them out. Ask your child to find aaaa and ttt. Ask for them by letter sound, not letter name. Say the cards separately:  aaa   ttt. Now slide them together, and say them quickly: at.


A few suggestions:

  • For now, blend only two letters.
  • Start with vowel first, then consonant.
  • Short vowels only (apple not ape, egg not eat, uncle not unicorn).
  • Practice a plus a variety of consonants, then move to e, i, o and
  • Vowel+R has a special rule and does not work like other combinations, so avoid it.
  • Once your child is comfortable with vowel+consonant, then try consonant+ vowel: b+aaaa, c+uuuu, d+eeee.
  • These are nonsense words. They have no meaning. That is fine. We are learning letter sounds and blending first. Meaning will come later.
  • Start with listening to how the sounds blend, then add looking at the letters while blending.


Your youngster has not yet read a word. That is the next step! You’re almost there! Once your child has a good grounding in letter sounds and blending, they will be ready to start to read.


Best wishes for a great experience for you and your young reader!


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