When we started blending the sounds, my 5-year old found it a bit abstract. She knew all her phonics very well, but when asked what sound C and A made together, I could tell from the look in her eyes she was at a loss to answer.
So I decided to move from the 2-D approach of pen and paper to a more visual 3-D approach: using props.
The prop I chose was a foam play-mat consisting of colourful letter puzzle pieces, which can be seen in the picture below.
If I tried to make my daughter blend C and A, I would:
- grab these 2 letters from the mat,
- show each one to my daughter and ask her what letter it is and what sound it makes,
- ask her to sound the C again but this time followed straight by the A. As she did so, I would slip into place each letter in front of her as she pronounced them and verbally blend with her.
My daughter really liked the use of letters and would regularly go and grab some letters from the mat and blend them.
When she learnt the consonants and vowels, I would ask her to pick one of each to blend; or I would d pick a consonant and her a vowel or vice-versa. At one time, we did a couple of blending every evening or so. She quickly picked up the blending after that, though I cannot tell for sure whether it is thanks to this or school. In any case, it definitely helped her visualise the rather abstract concept of phonics blending.
Option: the prop used can be anything so long as it has the letters and is easy to handle: magnetic letters, scrabble tiles…