Hi there! The public examination to become a Primary school teacher is behind the corner here in Spain. That means that studying along with working leaves little free time to write blog posts. However today I have decided to take a break and here I am to tell you how the Jolly Phonics course proceeds.
Back from the holidays we finished the second group of sounds /c/ /k/ /e/ /h/ /m/ /r/ /d/ and started the third. At the same time I decided that it was time to start blending and I'm going to tell you how I decided to introduce it. But first I'll explain what blending is and how it influences the acquisition of reading and writing skills.
We know that the main objective of the synthetic phonics methodology is to teach how to associate phonemes (sounds) to graphemes (graphic sign). At first, they are taught one by one, and then they are joined together to form words. For example, once the vowel phonemes, such as /a/ /i/ /e/ /o/ /u/, and some consonant phonemes, such as /p/ /n/ /c/ and /t/, are seen, students are presented with words formed by the combination of these phonemes: pan, sit, ant, cat, cap, net, pet, nut, and so on. Blending is the process of pronouncing the sounds of a word individually and finally bringing them together to pronounce the whole word. That is: /p/, /a/, /n/ and children have to say the whole word -> pan.
At first it may be difficult for them to recognize the word, but with a little practice during every session their ability improves, and each time they gather the phonemes faster.
How do I do it? As my little group is very lively, at the moment, to be listened to for more than 8 seconds, I'm using Jolly Phonics Read and See books. They are small books where there are words followed by a flap that I only lift once the children have guessed which word they have just heard, underneath there is the image that corresponds to the word pronounced. It's a trick that keeps them attentive because of the surprise effect, which always works with younger children, and thanks to the attention they naturally pay, they learn.
Another material that I use are the Jolly Phonics flash cards and some cards that I have cut from the activity books I had at home. I do try to make sure that the word is always accompanied by the corresponding picture; first of all because it develops reading comprehension and then because the drawings are pretty and, as Maria Montessori said, children have to be given pretty things to create an affective link with learning.
And now, the big question... why do we teach them blending?
I suppose the answer has already been guessed right: once the children have learned to recognize the words broken down by the teacher, they will be equipped to start synthesizing words on their own, which means they will be able to read.
More about reading and writing.
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