Blend: Everything You Need to Know

This term basically refers to placing two letters side-by-side in a given word and then trying to distinguish between both sounds. Examples of this concept include: st, bl, nd, gr. There’re also blends that contain three consonants, such as spl and str.

Many consonant blends are found at the beginnings of words (e.g., ‘br’ in brown and ‘bl’ in black), while some are used at the end of a word (e.g., ‘-sk’ in mask and ‘-nd’ in sand).

It’s important to understand that consonant blends and consonant digraphs aren’t the same things. In a consonant digraph, two adjacent consonants spell one sound. For instance, in the word ‘ship,’ the letters ‘s’ and ‘h’ spell one sound /sh/.

Mastering consonant blends requires engaging activities and practice for maximum retention of information. There’re several engaging consonant  blends activities that teachers can use.

First, teachers should focus on helping students develop phonemic awareness skills surrounding blends. For spelling and decoding purposes, students must have the ability to segment a word with blends into their individual sounds accurately. A student who has mastered consonant blends will be proficient in reading and writing words with blends and performing advanced-level phoneme manipulation tasks using them.

Second, teachers need to be thoughtful about the sequence in which they introduce consonant blends. A more proficient reader may have the ability to handle all the 2 letter blends simultaneously. For a reader requiring more practice, introducing r blends, s blends, and l blends separately may be the most effective option. Instead of memorizing a list, students need to understand how blends are developed and how they work. It’ll help them confidently work with less common consonant  blends such as tw (e.g., twenty and twinkle).

It’s also important to move from shorter and simpler words to more complex ones and from greater support to less support. Teachers should introduce words with initial consonant blends only of 4 sounds. When students are ready, final consonant blends should be introduced. Initially, students may require a bit of support, especially when segmenting the sounds for writing. Teachers can provide a high level of scaffolding by modeling the task, segmenting the sounds together, and having students repeat the word sounds independently.

Consonant blends arise continuously as children read more and more words. While the concept of these blends is simple to understand, the underlying skills of sequencing, blending, and segmenting may be difficult for some students. Continuous practice and guidance from teachers should help these students master these skills.

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