Skip Navigation

archived information
Follow us on:
Supporting Your Child's Reading at Home
Recommendation 3: Blending Letters, Recognizing and Reading Words

Help your child blend letters to read words and recognize common word parts and words, and encourage them to write words.

Blending to Read Words

blending words

Blending is the ability to put sounds together to read a word. To read a word, children must know the sounds the letters represent in the word and be able to blend those sounds to pronounce the correct word. For example, after children know the letter sounds /­f­/ for f, /­ă­/ for a, and /­n­/ for n, they learn to blend those sounds together to read the whole word. When they see the word fan, they are able to say,"/­f­/, /­ă­/, /­n­/, fan." By the time your child reaches third grade, he or she should be able to read many words automatically, without having to think about blending the letter sounds. However, when your child encounters an unknown word, blending together the individual sounds of the letters can help him or her figure out the word.

Sound-Spelling Patterns

word families

For the following activities, your child will blend letters, analyze word parts, and write and recognize words. Use the documents below as needed before or while engaging in the activities.

Sound-spelling patterns consist of letters that are often combined to make a specific sound. Common sound-spelling patterns can include consonant patterns, vowel patterns, and syllable patterns. See examples below (not an exhaustive list of examples).

A syllable is a word part with a vowel in it. Usually, a word has as many syllables as it has vowels. Vowels are a, e, i, o, u. The other letters (like b, c, d, f) are consonants.

  • Cat has one syllable.
  • Picnic has two syllables (pic‑nic).
  • Yesterday has three syllables (yes‑ter‑day).

Common Word Parts

decodable words

Understanding common word parts like base words, prefixes, and suffixes will help children break words into smaller, meaningful word parts, which can help them read, write, and understand more challenging words.

The word help is called a base word because it can stand alone and has meaning. It is also called a base word because we can add to it to change the word. For example, we can add the ending ‑ful, for the word helpful. When we add a word part to the end of a word, it is called a suffix. We can also add a word part to the beginning of a base word. When we add a word part to the beginning of a base word, it is called a prefix. For example, the prefix un‑ can be added to helpful to make the word unhelpful.

Word = Prefix + Base Word + Suffix
Unhelpful = un + help + ful

Reading Words

reading words

Blending is the ability to put sounds together to read a word. For example, when children see the word soil, they are able to say, "/s/, /oi/, /l/, soil." There are many ways to support your child in reading words. For example, provide opportunities for your child to practice reading words in a list or on flashcards. It is also important for children to practice reading words in sentences and stories.

High-Frequency Words

high-frequency words

High-frequency words are words that appear frequently in books. Examples of high-frequency words are again, every, know, could. It is important that children learn how to read high-frequency words automatically, correctly without hesitation. The more your child reads and writes high-frequency words, the better he or she will get at reading them automatically.

There are many activities that families can do to help their children read high-frequency automatically.

  1. Show your child the high-frequency word laugh. Have your child say the word, write the word, and then say the word again.
  2. Use the provided high-frequency word cards as flash cards and time your child as he or she reads a stack of them. You can place words that were challenging for your child in a separate pile, so you know which words need more practice. The goal is to read more words correctly in less time each time you engage in the activity.

Challenging and Important Words

challenging and important words

Just because a book contains challenging words, it doesn't mean that you can't read it with your child. Before reading a book with your child, skim it to see if there are any challenging and important words. For example, Tyrannosaurus rex would be considered challenging to read, but are important words in a book about dinosaurs. Words also may be challenging because the child has not learned the sound-spelling pattern contained in the word or the word contains irregular sound-spelling patterns as in the words resource or necessary. Select three such words that appear most frequently in the book. Introduce the words to your child before you read the book. Point to each word in the book and tell your child how to pronounce it and what it means. Ask your child to point to the word and say it. If there are too many challenging words, you can read the book aloud to your child rather than have him or her read it to you.