ALEX Learning Activity

Segmenting and Blending Phonemes in Words With Consonant Digraphs

A Learning Activity is a strategy a teacher chooses to actively engage students in learning a concept or skill using a digital tool/resource.

  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Ginger Henderson
System:Monroe County
School:Excel High School
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 2398
Segmenting and Blending Phonemes in Words With Consonant Digraphs
Digital Tool/Resource:
Basic 4 Box Elkonin Boxes
Web Address – URL:

In this phonemic awareness small group activity, the teacher will provide instruction on segmenting and blending phonemes. The students will segment words into their individual phonemes while using counters to count the number of phonemes in the word. Students will then blend the phonemes in the word and identify the number of phonemes present.

This activity results from the ALEX Resource Development Summit.

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
English Language Arts
ELA2015 (2015)
Grade: 1
21 ) Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes). [RF.1.2]

a. Distinguish long from short vowel sounds in spoken single-syllable words. [RF.1.2a]

b. Orally produce single-syllable words by blending sounds (phonemes), including consonant blends. [RF.1.2b]

c. Isolate and pronounce initial, medial vowel, and final sounds (phonemes) in spoken single-syllable words. [RF.1.2c]

d. Segment spoken single-syllable words into their complete sequence of individual sounds (phonemes). [RF.1.2d]

Learning Objectives:

Students will push counters into Elkonin boxes as they isolate phonemes in words with consonant digraphs.

Students will attain at least 80% mastery in isolating and counting these phonemes.

  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

1. Remind students that sounds are put together to make words. Tell students sometimes multiple letters work together to make one sound.

2. Show students the learning tool Basic 4 box Elkonin Boxes and explain that you will use a counter to stand for each sound in the word. Use pennies, chips, or other small counters during the segmentation activity.

3. Place four counters just above the line on the page. Model by saying a word with a consonant digraph, such as chill. Push a counter into a box on the Basic 4 box Elkonin Boxes tool for each sound as you segment: /ch/, /i/, /l/.

4. Place your index finger on the dot under the boxes and slide your finger across the page in the direction of the arrow as you blend the word: chill

5. Ask students how many sounds are in the word (3). Point out that you pushed up three counters, one for each sound in the word. There are three sounds in the word chill: /ch/, /i/, /l/.

6. Provide each student in the group with a copy of the Basic 4 box Elkonin Boxes tool. Then give each student four counters and have them place the counters just above the line on the page.

7. Provide students with guided practice as you segment and blend the following words: chick (3), hatch (3), this (3), bath (3), ship (3), ash (2), white (3), why (2). Follow the same model as outlined above, this time with the students producing the sounds, pushing the counters, and sliding their finger to blend along with you.

8. To culminate, give students one of the following words and watch as they segment and blend the word independently: cheese (3), each (2), bush (3), share (3), what (3), both (3). Use additional words as necessary to continue independent practice.

Assessment Strategies:

Observe students' performance as they independently segment and blend phonemes. Mastery is achieved when students attain at least 80% accuracy.

Advanced Preparation:

Print and laminate a teacher copy plus one copy for each student of the Basic 4 box Elkonin Boxes tool. Secure enough counters for each student to have four, plus four counters for teacher use.

Variation Tips (optional):

After students have mastered segmenting phonemes using counters, the sound-spelling correspondence may be introduced. To do so, have students use letter tiles instead of counters for each sound, ensuring that the consonant digraphs are shown on a single tile to reinforce the concept of one sound for the two letters.

Notes or Recommendations (optional):

This lesson is best suited for small group instruction.

A complementary "during" activity for this lesson can be located here: Sorting Consonant Digraphs.

  Keywords and Search Tags  
Keywords and Search Tags: consonant digraphs, digraphs, multisensory, phonemic awareness, phonological awarness, reading, small group