Beginning Reading Design: Blending Boats
Ellie Austin

Rationale: Blending is one of the important steps in learning to read. Students must know the consonants and short vowel sounds to master blending. The following activities will help students learn how to blend sounds in an enjoyable manner. Once the student learns how to blend, reading will be easier and more enjoyable for them. By the end of this lesson, the student should be able to blend sounds together in the consonant/vowel/consonant (CVC) form.

Materials: One large boat with 3 pockets, enough small boats with 3 letter blocks on them for each student, 3x5 cards for the large boat with the following letters on them: b, r, l, t, a, e, I, o, u, g, p, d, m, a set of letters (m, a, e, i, o, u, d, b, p, n, t, s, g) on paper in the shape of people for each student, a copy for each student, a copy for each student of "Tin Man Fix-It" (Educational Insights, 1990), copy of "Green Eggs and Ham" by Dr. Seuss (see references).

1. Tell students: I know everyone here wants to learn how to read, right? Good. Well, to learn how to read words, first you need to learn how to blend sounds. Blending is like rhyming. When blending to form a word, you let the sounds run together smoothly. Now, let's review the sounds of each letter in the alphabet. Great!
2. Read "Green Eggs and Ham" to class.
3. Pull words form the book to model secret code which will be good blending practice. Tell the class, "I am going to say a word in a secret code. See if you can figure out what I am saying. (start with easy form) /ha/ /m/. Practice with a few words and if the class seems to catch on to the concept move to a harder code. For example: /h/ /am/ and then to the hardest /h/ /a/ /m/. After they figure out the word write it on the board to help the students relate each sound to the letters that represent it.
4. Now, do a review of this concept with the "Mulberry Bush" song: Now we will say the word out loud, the word out loud, the word out loud, now we will say the word out loud, so put the sounds to-geth-er. (Say "/be/ /d/" and let the students respond, "bed". Then do /s/ /u/ /n/ (advanced level) and the children respond, sun. Do as many as necessary for them to grasp the concept: van, red, jam, fog, pot, cut,etc.
5. Use the large blending boats now. Tell the story about Captain /b/ wanting to sail to Word Paradise. We all know that one person can not handle such a large boat alone. He needed a complete crew. So Captain /b/ went searching for the complete crew (complete crew = a word). Have the large letter cards ready to model the activity.
6. While Captain /b/ is looking for his crew help the students to realize that bt, bm, bc, etc. Do no make a complete crew or word. He needs a vowel, r, or l. For example, be or bi or br could lead to a crew. Let the students help you complete the words. Model the use of the pockets on the boat for each sound in the words. Help them build words with the letter b like: bet, bad, bop, etc.
7. Now let them have their own set of letters in the shape of people and ship with 3 letter boxes on them. Start the story for them with Captain /m/. Let the students find his crew for his boat. Walk around noting the children's ability with blending the sounds and forming words like mad, met, mop. Make sure they understand the foundations of blending. Let the students write down the words they form on a sheet of paper to check for assessing them.
8. Assessment: Give each child a copy of "Tin Man Fix-It" to read. Go around and listen to each child reading the book. Note the students' miscues. Tell the class if they finish the book before you come by then go back and work on the blending boat with Captain /p/. When you come by they can go back to read a page from the book to you. Use your miscue notes to check for understanding.

J. Lloyd Eldredge (1995). Teaching Decoding in Holistic Classrooms. Engelwood Cliffs,
     NJ: Merrill. P. 53. "Blending", p. 59 "Sound Blending".

Seuss, Dr. Green Eggs and Ham. New York: Random House, c.1960.

Cushman, Shelia. Tin Man Fix-It. Educational Insights: Carson, CA. 1990.

Maner, Anna. Blending Bumper Cars.

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