Syllable Segmenting and Syllable Blending

​The best predictor of reading difficulty in kindergarten or first grade is the inability to segment words and syllables into constituent sound units (Lyon, 1995).

Syllable segmentation is the ability to determine how many phonemes (i.e., individual sound units) exist in a word. Syllable blending is the act of pulling together individual sounds/syllables into the entire word,

Syllable segmentation is very important for the development of a child’s sound perception. A child who can recognize the syllables of a word will have an easier time reading and spelling. As kids get more familiar with syllables, they will notice syllable patterns in words (for example, google and goggle both have the syllable ‘gle’) and will be able to split lengthier words down into their syllables to aid in syllabication.

Children who can segment and blend sounds are able to use this skill when reading and spelling. Segmenting and blending individual sounds can be difficult at the beginning. Start with segmenting and blending syllables which is more natural and then move to individual sounds

Phoneme segmentation is one of the later developing skills on the hierarchy of development. By the six years of age 80%-90% of children can segment single syllables with 2 or 3 sounds without blends (“cat”- /c/ /a/ /t/) and by 6 1/2 are able to segment 3-4+ phoneme words including blends (“black”- /b/ /l/ /a/ /k/).

Some fun activities to do with your kids

Doggie Where’s My Bone.  This activity is not technically a segmenting activity. But Doggie, Where’s My Bone introduces the concept of location of the sound in a word. So that the kids begin to pay attention to individual sounds in words and their relationship/positioning in the word itself. You will give the kids a word and then a sound (“bug” /u/).  Their job is to put the bone either on the head, body or tail to indicate the position of the sound.

Push Lights

Another activity that is a little more “high tech” is using push lights. These are the battery-operated lights you put in a closet or cupboard and simply push it on or off. Have 3-4 of these and have the kids turn 1 light on for each sound in a word!

The ideas are endless for these activities. Here are just a few locations you can find more information on these foundational skills:

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