Breaking down words into their sounds (segmenting)

Combining sounds to read words (blending)

Blending is a technical term used by teachers when they are teaching your child early reading skills. During a phonics session, your child will initially learn single sounds relating to a single letter (or grapheme). They will learn, according to what phonics scheme your child’s school follows, a sequence of sounds and when they have learnt enough of these sounds, will be taught to combine them or push them together in order to read short words. Sounds tricky hey? It’s painful! Blending can take a while for a child to master and the key to success is to encourage your child to keep practising their sounds and slowly they will learn to blend them. The trick is, again, to feel confident with the sounds that the children are reading so you can help them blend or combine them to read a word. Watch out for those tricky words though!!

Our top tip with blending with your child when you are reading at home is just to be extremely patient. Let them have a go before you tell them the correct pronunciation! It can take a while to even read a page when children are learning this skill but just doing a little at home can help boost your child’s confidence.  If your child has made a mistake or is struggling with a word- perhaps read the sounds out for them and ask them to blend them together. Let them get it wrong and let them work out that they’ve done it wrong.

Alphablocks is just fantastic! Check out this video that demonstrates the blending process.

A selection of online games to support Blending

These games work well laptop or desktop but may not be phone or tablet friendly, sorry!

The read with phonics website has some brilliant games and works on your phone and tablet. To play all of them you need to pay an upfront cost (currently £7.99 but I’d say worth it for some great content if you like online games. The ‘build a phonics word’ game models blending really clearly!

Segmenting- funnily enough- is the exact opposite.  Children will need to learn how to do this in order to spell and subsequently write sentences. Your child will need to hear the sounds within a word and then break these sounds down and put them in the right order. Again, sounds outrageously complicated and it is really tricky, but through practise your child will grasp this quite easily. 

 During my daily phonics sessions I often say a CVC word and then ask the children to break it down into the first sound that they can hear when the word is said out loud, then the last sound that they can hear in the word and then – when they are ready- the middle sound. It is a gradual process and for those children that are new to reception you might want to just focus on the first sounds that they can hear when you say words. Have a practise when you are out and about; spot animals and see if you can work together to find out what sound is at the beginning of their name.

Towards the end of the reception your child will be asked to segment words when they are writing and match these sounds to their corresponding graphemes and this is the strategy that they will learn as they move through the school.


Here is a selection of online games to support Segmenting

Forest Phonics is mobile friendly!

The ‘teach your monster to read’ website (links below) has some great content too. Free access to a certain amount is in the teacher area. The songs are really catchy and help with remembering those letter sounds. The mini games have several options for blending and segmenting and it’s all mobile friendly!


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