Students not reading SMOOTHLY?

BLENDING TRAINS for Smooth Blending and Word Reading.  This free resource was designed to explicitly teach your student to blend words smoothly without stopping or pausing.  

So what is blending?
Blending is the ability to smoothly and seamlessly combine individual sounds (phonemes) together to form words.  While some kiddos pick up on this skill with ease, a majority of students struggle with blending and this causes a negative effect on fluency as well as accessing meaning while decoding words.

What is the big deal about blending?
To blend words smoothly, you sound out a word like /ccclllaaappp/ instead of making the sounds in a choppy way /c/ /l/ /a/ /p/.  When sounding words smoothly, students will blend the letter sounds without pausing, and are able to access meaning as they decode the words. In fact, your students can practice this skill by taking a deep breath before they sound out the word.  It may be helpful to tell students to “blend or stretch” a word instead of telling them to sound out the word.

Reading fluency resource - how to improve choppy reading -

How can I tell if my student isn’t reading smoothly?
Students that aren’t able to read smoothly will continue to read in a choppy manner.  They will struggle with putting all of the sounds together and to say the word with fluidity.  When they continue to pause while reading a word, they may forget the individual sounds by the time they read the word or say a word that doesn’t make sense. If you have ever heard a student read a word… /b/ /a/ /r/ /k/ and then after making the sounds correctly they say the word as /barn/, they may not be blending smoothly.  This will prevent them from being able to combine the sounds into a word correctly.  Typically, they can say the sounds in isolation, but struggle with putting the sounds together in a smooth manner.

What if my student doesn’t blend sounds smoothly?
If your student doesn’t learn to blend the sounds of a word smoothly, it will be difficult for them to develop as a proficient reader.  The student will continue to read with choppy pauses between the words. A student’s phonological processing and fluency will be compromised if they do not learn how to blend words smoothly.

Do I have to explicitly teach blending to my students?
Yes, direct instruction may be needed here!  Many students need to be explicitly taught how to blend words smoothly without choppy pauses. Some students are able to pick up on this skill quickly, white others need additional modeling, explicit instruction, and repeated practice. Without this important skill, your student may not be able to move forward and make progress as a reader.
Reading fluency resource - how to improve choppy reading -

What can I do to help my student blend smoothly?
Model for your students how to blend a word without stopping between individual sounds. After modeling, have students practice with you, and again while reading at the guided reading table or during independent reading time.  If you have a family curriculum night on your campus, it might be a good idea to model this for your parents so they can work with their kiddos at home.  Many parents do not understand about the necessity of blending words smoothly.  If you notice a student pausing between sounds, please encourage them to stop.  This may become a habit, and it can be a very difficult one to break. 

So….. I created this fun little resource with a train design and bright colors.  You will LOVE it because it can be used in a literacy center, small group instruction, guided reading mini-lesson, intervention RTI group, or for individual student practice.

Reading fluency resource - how to improve choppy reading -

Differentiation will be a snap!  You will find three different levels of support to meet the needs of all of your students.  Multiple learning styles are addressed with this hands-on literacy activity.

  • Version 1: Blending Train with word.  Students will blend the sounds smoothly as they move their finger along the arrow.
  • Version 2: Blending Train with word and picture support.  Having the picture will support the student in being able to make the sounds of the word.  This is also helpful in a literacy center, independent practice, or to go home for extra work.
  • Version 3: Blending Train with picture support and no words (phonemic awareness skill).  If your student is continuing to struggle with blending sounds smoothly, back up the skill.  Take away the word and use the pictures only.
Reading fluency resource - how to improve choppy reading -

In addition to the FREE blending resource, I also have a full-product version.  It is 76 pages long and includes the following:
  • 162 Blending Trains for Smooth Blending
  • Includes 3 levels of reading support for phonics and phonemic awareness
  • Information on why and how to teach smooth blending
  • Activities, tips, and interventions to do if your students are still struggling with smooth blending
  • Blending Train handout for students that are ready to move to the next step
  • Blending Train center activity

reading game blending trains

 Best wishes!


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