Blending is a technique used to teach little learners how to read. To read effectively, kids must first learn to identify letters and their sounds and then practice blending individual letter sounds to form words.
Teachers often use, what we call, a blending board to conduct blending activities in the classroom. A blending board is a simple tool that displays letter cards so students know what letters to focus on while practicing blending in phonics.
Although I have seen teachers using wooden blending boards, which are no doubt sturdy, but, if you are looking for something similar that you can easily make with a few easily available supplies, stay hooked to this write-up as I am going to show you a very simple way of making a blending board that you can use at home or school.
How to make a blending board
Things You’ll Need:
- Corrugated cardboard
- A utility knife/box cutter (Adult supervision is required as a utility knife/ box cutter is a sharp tool. Please be vigilant if you have kids helping you in this activity or playing around you while you’re busy making the blending board.)
- A4 sheets (White and Yellow)
- Paint and a wide paintbrush
The first step to making a DIY blending board is to find yourself a nice piece of corrugated cardboard. No, you don’t have to run to the store to get one! If you have those thick Amazon cardboard delivery boxes lying around in your house, grab one of those to make your blending board.
- Use a box cutter to cut out two pieces of cardboard as shown in the figure above.
- The dimensions for the bigger piece are 30 x 10.5 cm. And the smaller piece measures 12 x 9 cm.
- The larger piece will be used to make the board and the smaller one will act as a stand.
- Now take the bigger piece of cardboard and draw a line at 1.5 cm from one edge.
- Use a utility knife or a box cutter to make a gentle cut on the cardboard.
Remember, you do not have to make a deep cut to cut it off entirely! Just a light cut, enough to help you twist that part.
- Now fold the 1.5 cm thick cardboard portion along the cut you just made.
- Do not fold it completely. Folding it halfway is enough. Look at the images above to get an idea.
Similarly, work with the smaller piece of cardboard to make the stand.
- This time, draw a line 3 cm from the longer edge.
- Again, make a gentle cut, not very deep, using the box cutter.
- Fold it halfway along the line to make the stand.
- When you’re done, it should look similar to the images above.
- Next, grab a bottle of glue and apply it generously on the wider portion of the stand we just made.
- Stick the stand around half an inch above the base of the larger piece. This will help the board recline a bit when you place it upright.
This is how it will look after you glue the stand on the larger cardboard piece.
Place the blending board on a table to check if it stands properly.
If not, you can tilt and adjust the folded portions, so the board can stand properly.
If you have printed letter cards, you can very well use them with this blending board. If not, you can make consonant and vowel letter cards to go with the board.
- Here, I cut out 9 x 8 cm cards using white and yellow A4-size sheets. The white cards are for consonants and the yellow cards are for vowels.
- To assist kids in reading, you can draw arrows under the letters to visually represent the direction to go along when blending letters together.
If you please, you can even color the board with the color of your choice to make it look better. I chose the classic brown color as blending boards are often made of wood.
And there you have it! The DIY blending board is ready!
How to use a blending board to help kids learn to read
Now that our blending board is ready, let me show you how you can use it with your kid. But first, I would like to share a few tips to make learning more effective.
- Get acquainted with phonics. Look up different resources on the internet to learn different letter sounds so you can show your kid how to say them correctly.
- Pick a time when your child is active and eager to get involved in the activity.
- Start small. Select two or three-letter words at the beginning. When your child masters short words, you can introduce them to slightly difficult words.
- Have patience. Give enough time to blend words. Your child will not pick it up in just a few sessions. Practicing is the key!
- Have your child blend known words when reading a book. This will help your child develop a habit of blending words when they are self-reading a book.
- Hand over some slime to your kid when practicing blending letter sounds. Ask your child to stretch the slime each time they are trying to blend the sounds. This will add a fun element and hook your child while doing this activity.
Here is a short video to help you understand how you can use the blending board to teach your child the technique of blending letter sounds or phonemes to decode simple words while reading.
Blending sounds is the first step to developing reading fluency. Most kids are ready to start blending letter sounds when they are 4-5 years old. However, some may take even longer. As a parent or an educator, we must acknowledge the fact that every child learns at their own pace. Giving them ample time to develop these skills is crucial for creating a strong foundation for learning.
I hope you try out this simple DIY blending board craft and enjoy some fun learning time with your little one!