Totally Tubular Blending
Beginning Reading
Sandy Kraeger


There are many important concepts that children need to understand before they can become skillful readers.  One of the necessary concepts is blending, which is the ability to smoothly join two or more phonemes together.  Once children learn short vowel and consonant phonemes they are ready to learn to blend the sounds together to make words.

-a poster board shaped like a river
-different colors of inner tubes with the letters ďa, c, b, d, f, l, m, p, r, s, tĒ written on them
-sticky-tac that will enable you to temporarily paste inner tubes with letters a different places along the river. For assessment and extra review you can make a few smaller versions for the students to practice on in small groups or individually
-a book like Educational Insights,  A Cat Nap.


1. Introduce the lesson by discussing the differences between vowels and consonants.  "Can anyone raise their hand and tell me a vowel? Children should be able to name several vowels and consonants. That's right, now can you tell me what sound that vowel makes?  What is another vowel?  Good, and what sound does it make?  Can anyone tell me a consonant?  Great, and what sound does that make?"  Today we are going to learn about blending.  This it the name for putting the sounds that letters make together to form words.

2.  Tell the students the following story: (As the teacher tells the story he/she moves the inner tubes along the poster.)
One day, a group of letters decided to go to a nearby river to do some tubing.  It was a hot summer day so all of the letters hopped into the river and started floating down it on their inner tubes.  The current of the river carried the letters along at different speeds, some letters drifted far away while others got a rather slow start.  As the journey went on, /a/ found himself away from all the other letters, he floated down the river making his /a/ sound (like all the other letters do) so that he would not feel lonely.  A little further back, c was doing the same thing. She was making the /k/ sound. Then all of the sudden c bumped into him. Can you tell me what sound they made together? Thatís right,  /kaaaaa/.  The two letters continued down the river blending their two sounds.  Then, they both ran into t. Together c, a, and t made the word cat because that is what happens when we blend /k/ and /a/ and /t/ together.

3. Review the /k/ /a/ and /t/ blend and check for understanding from each student.  Ask what do they say?  Whatís the word they made, and so on to be sure that the students understand.

4. Next, continue the story: /a/ thought that was really fun and was even more excited when they made a word.  /a/ wanted to make /cat/ again, but the current had carried /t/ away.  However in the distance /k/ and /a/ saw /p/.  So the letters said their name, /kaaaa/ until they bumped into /p/  "Yippee!"  Shouted /a/.  "We made the word cap!"  Soon the other letters saw how much fun /a/ was having and they tried hard to bump into him too.

5. Continue the process of floating letters down the river on their inner tubes with different consonant sounds to create new words.  Continue to model each sound and word.

6.  Now let the students practice blending on their own and see what words they make blending consonant/vowel/consonant words. Teacher could list several words on the board and let students pick words to blend together.   Be sure to remind them that /a/ or other vowels like to be in the middle. Walk around the classroom and notice if each child is able to blend the sounds and make a word using the vowel/consonant cards at their desk.

7. Hang the large picture of the river on the wall in the classroom.  Be sure to leave the inner tubes next to it so that the students can use it to practice "Bumping" into letters to make words.

8. Retell the story several times throughout the week until the students understand the idea of "Bumping" the sounds together.  After they get the idea, then have them try blending words with out using the letters on the inner tubes.

9. Read  A Cat Nap to the class as a whole.  Next, break the class into smaller groups and let them practice blending sounds with each other.  For assessment, go around to each student and have him or her read a short book like A Cat Nap and note any miscues.


Lesson by Lori Gatling "Blending is Fun"
Lesson by Anna Maner  "Blending Bumper Cars "
Eldredge, J. Lloyd.  Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms.  Prentice Hall, Inc.  New Jersey, 1995.  pp 112, 159-164.

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