Souper Blenders!

Alicia Ellis

Emergent Literacy



A crucial component of being able to decoded printed words to speech is being able to blend the sounds in a word together (Beck, 2006). Blending means smoothly joining phonemes to form a pronunciation of a word; or at least a close enough pronunciation to match with a word that is already known from spoken language. By comparing blending of sounds to the mixing of ingredients of a recipe, I hope to develop students’ ability and confidence with blending phonemes to make words.



Flash cards (write a lowercase letter on each card—all letters of the alphabet)

Book: Alphabet Soup by Kate Banks


Get the students’ attention by speaking to them in a choppy manner (like a robot). “Al…right…students…Today…we’re…going…to…talk….about…blending.” This should catch the students’ attention and they might start to giggle. Then you can ask, “Why…are…you…laughing…at…me?” This will lead you to discuss the importance of oral blending. “When we speak to each other, we let our words blend together. We don’t space them apart like you see them written in a book. We would sound pretty funny if we spaced out our words.

Next, introduce students to phoneme blending. “Not only do we blend words together when we speak sentences, we also blend sounds together to form words. The letters of a word are like the ingredients to a recipe. If you want pancakes, I wouldn’t give you a plate of flour, milk, and uncooked eggs! That wouldn’t be tasty. I have to blend together the ingredients in order to make pancakes. In the same way, we have to blend together the sounds of a word to form a word.”

Model to students how to blend using the word “spoon”. Write the word up on the board. Using body-coda blending, model how to listen for the vowel first, and then tag on the beginning and finally the ending. “OK, let’s see. I have a double oo so I know that says /oo/. Alright, now I have an s and a p before the oo so that would sound like /s/…/s/s/…/s/p/…s/p/oo/…and I’ll add that n at the end… “spoo…spoon. OK! Spoon!”

Provide some practice exercises for the students on how to blend together sounds to make a word. From the stack of flashcards, pull out the letters c, a, and t. Explain to the students that you want them to say the sound of each letter that you show them. Then, show each letter to the class, one at a time.

“We’re going to practice how to blend sounds to make a word. I’m going to pull out a letter from this stack of cards and you tell me what sound the letter makes.”

(Pull out the letter a). Students will recite the /a/ sound.

“Very good! No what about this letter?”

(Pull out the letter c). Students will recite the /c/ sound.

“Alright, now tell me what sound this letter makes.”

(Pull out the letter t). Students will recite the /t/ sound.

“Excellent job, class! Now we need to blend together those sounds to make a word—just like when you cook. So let’s make a word with these sounds. Say each sound again as I hold up the card.”

Hold up the a, then the c, then the t, having the students blend the sounds each time a letter is added. This will give the students the opportunity to hear the sounds of the letter when they are recited close together.  This exercise can be repeated one or two more times with a simple, 3-phoneme word.


Instruct students to sit in a circle. Give each student a card with a letter of the alphabet written on it (in lowercase). Then explain the activity that the students are about to participate in. “No we’re going to make some soup…alphabet soup! We’re sitting in a circle because it represents the bowl for the soup. Also, everyone has an “ingredient”, or letter, that will be used to help make the alphabet soup. Before we start blending, I want to teach you a song that we can sing while we make the alphabet soup!”

At this time, teach the following song to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell”:

We’re looking for a/an [name of letter]

We’re looking for a/an [name of letter]

[Sing sound of the letter to the tune of “Hi, Ho, the Derry Oh!”]

We’re looking for a/an [name of letter].


So, an example would be:

We’re looking for an “a”,

We’re looking for an “a”,


We’re looking for an “a”!


Continue with the rest of the instruction for the activity. “After we sing the verse for the letter, I want whoever has that letter to stand in the center of the circle. Are we ready to blend some letters to make alphabet soup?”

Have a list of 3-phoneme and 4-phoneme words prepared for students to spell. After you have sung the verses for each letter of the word and all 3-4 students are standing in the circle, have the students step out of the “bowl” and stand in the correct order while holding their letters. Instruct the class to blend together the “ingredients” to form a word. After the students correctly blend the sounds to form a word, have the students sit back down and continue on with the activity. Be sure to have enough words so that all students get to use their letter to help spell a word.



After completing the activity, gather students together and read Alphabet Soup aloud to the class. Each time a word is spelled in the spoon, break apart the word into its sounds and have the students blend the sound to make the word. Give the following book talk: In Alphabet Soup, this little boy doesn’t make soup; instead, he spells words with the letters found in his alphabet soup. The first word he spells is “bear”. To his amazement, a real bear appears! What will he do now? In order to find that out, we’ll have to keep on reading!


For individual assessment, have students come up to you, one at a time, and give them an oral auditory blending test. This can be done by having a list of words already made out. For each word, you will orally break the word apart into sounds. Ask the student to blend the sounds together and figure out what word you are saying. For example, you would sound out b-i-g and the student will hopefully be able to blend the sounds together to form the word “big”.

Beck, Isabel L. Making Sense of Phonics. New York, NY. The Guilford Press, 2006, p.48.

Banks, Kate. Alphabet Soup. New York, NY. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 1988.

Vickery-Smith, Julie. The Letter Hunt.

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