Reading Bugs

Beginning Reading Design

Susan Schaum





Blending is the ability skillful readers possess which enables them to link known phonemes together to produce a functioning word. If a child understands the idea of blending, they will be able to read any word in existence. As a teacher, it is important to utilize activities that introduce and reinforce this concept of attaching sounds to form words. In this lesson, students will be introduced to the idea of blending and receive guided practice in a skill they will need to use in all of their early literacy training.



 (For each child)



  1. Introduce the lesson by reviewing the phonemic sounds of the alphabet. On the board, write each letter of the alphabet, beginning with the consonants. Ask the children what sound each letter makes. When you have finished with the consonants, begin using the vowels. Remind the children that vowels are special because “they each have a sound they make and at certain times they might say their own name!” Review this difference between consonants and vowels with special emphasis on short vowel sounds of a and i.
  2. Introduce the concept of blending. “I’m so glad that we know the different sounds that letters make. Now that we know this, we can take different sounds and use them to make words! We do this by doing something we call ‘blending.’ Have any of you ever helped your moms or dads bake a cake? When you make a cake, you have to take different ingredients and mix them together so that they make one cake. Words are the same way. You have to mix different sounds together to make words.”
  3. Model the activity for the students. Explain to the students, “Today we are going to build some bugs. However, these aren’t just any old type of bug. These are word bugs. Each part of this bug has a different sound. When the bug is complete, he says one word. How do we build them? Look, each one of the pieces has a letter on it. When we stick different sounds together in a special way, they form words. It is the same way we are going to build our bugs. First, I am going to start by picking out a good head for my bug. I’m thinking of a letter that starts with the / k / sound. Can anyone tell me the letter that makes this sound? Very Good! You are correct! It’s the letter C. I see that one of the bug heads has a C on it. I’m now going to put the head on the first spot on my board. Ok, now, I’m going to pick a middle sound for my word. Since my first letter was a consonant, I think I’m going to pick a vowel this time. I know! I think I want to use the / a / sound. What letter makes this sound? You’re right; the A does make this sound. Do we see an A on any of my body pieces? Here’s one. I’m going to put this on the next space on my board. The final letter in my word makes a fun sound. This sound is the / t / sound. Can anyone tell me which letter makes that sound? Good Job! T does make the / t / sound. Now I’m going to put the tail with the T on it in its correct place. You see, now I’ve created a whole bug. What happens when we say all these sounds together? / k / / a / / t /. Can anyone tell me what word that is? Cat! Good Job!”
  4. Instruct the students on how to repeat the activity individually. “Okay, now it is your turn to make a bug. Make sure that your boards are clear. Now I’m going to give you the sounds in another word and I want you to try and pick out the sounds.” Repeat your instructions in the same way manner you used when modeling, only this time modifying it for the student’s portion of the activity.
  5. Allow the students to pick out the sounds on their own with the words: can, sit, nip, his, sat, and ran. After the students are finished with each word, allow them to share their answers with one another.




Slowly read the story Cat and Mouse (or another beginner text of your choosing) aloud. Have the children raise their hands whenever they hear one of the words they built using their bugs. When you call on a child, ask them to pick either the first, middle, last or all three sounds found in the word. If they get stuck, they may reference their bugs for help, but have them try to figure it out without looking first. Another potential assessment would be to have them use individual copies of the book and have them locate these words independently.



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