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An Example Lesson Plan for Teaching Consonant Blends

Consonant blends are groups of 2-3 consonants whose sounds are blended together. For example, the "fl" in the word "flip" is a blend, and so is the "lt" in the word "melt."

Consonant blends are typically introduced toward the end of Kindergarten or the beginning of first grade. In this post, we have an example lesson plan for introducing consonant blends to students for the very first time. The lesson plan is broken up into 5 different parts: a phonological awareness warm-up, review, concept introduction, picture sort, and blending drill.

This lesson plan (and all of the materials) come from Unit 4, Level K, of our From Sounds to Spelling phonics program.

Phonological Awareness

  • Begin with blending practice. As you say each sound in a word, touch the side of your flat hand to your other, open palm. Slide your hand across your open palm as students say the complete word. (See the Hand Movements video if necessary.) “Let’s play Mystery Word! I’m going to say the sounds in the word and you say the word. Ready? /s/ /t/ /ŏ/ /p/.” The students should respond: “Stop.” Repeat for the following words: scan, smash, smell, sniff, spell, stuff, swim.
  • Move onto segmenting. Students can use the same open-palm movement as in the blending activity above OR they can use finger tapping OR they can use Elkonin boxes with counters, pushing one counter into a box as they say each sound. (See the phonological awareness video in your login if necessary.) “Now we’re going to switch - I’ll say the whole word and you tell me the sounds in the word.” Have students segment these words (model once or twice if necessary): spot, smog, Scott, spit, stop, stiff, spill, snow (3 sounds), stem, skate, snake.

Phonics & High Frequency Words Review

  • Review high frequency word cards from previous weeks (if students struggle with a word, have them tap it out on their arm while spelling it aloud)
  • Go through some of your letter flashcards. Have students say each letter name and sound. (Example: ’r says /r/.’)

Concept Introduction: Consonant Blends

  • Introduce the concept of blends: “Today we’re going to talk about blends. A blend is made up of 2 or more letters. The sounds get blended together, but we still hear each sound. I brought my magic letter blender to help us blend!” 
  • Pick up the sound cards for “s” and have students say the sound. Repeat for the sound card “t.” “Good! Now let’s put them in our magic letter blender. Ready?” Place the s and t on top of the blender picture and pretend to turn the blender on. “All done! When we blend up the s and t, we make the blend /s/ /t/, /st/, like in the word ‘stop.’ Can you think of any other words that begin with /st/?” See what students can come up with (write words on the board if desired and time permits).
  • Repeat the above process (placing two individual sound cards on the blender page, “blending” them, replacing them with the blend sound card, naming the key word, and brainstorming other words) for the following blends: sp-, sm-, sn-.
  • When you’re finished going through each blend, show students the sound cards for the blends and read through them, saying each individual sound and then the blend: /s/ /p/, /sp/ for example.

Picture Sort

  • Introduce the picture sort you selected and go over the words for the pictures. Regular sort pictures: spot, sneeze, stem, smile, stop, snow, smoke, snake, spill, snail. Picture sort E (easier): spill, spot, snail, snow, sneeze, space.
  • Explain directions for the sort. Students can simply manipulate the pictures on the table (quicker option) OR you can assign it as an independent work activity where they glue down the pictures. If students will be gluing down the pictures and you’re using the regular sort, give them blank paper or construction paper for gluing them down (make sure students are familiar with sorting so they know how to group the pictures and letter cards appropriately).
  • Have students complete the sort. Early finishers can use invented spelling to write the words under each picture.
  • If students complete the sort with you, have them “read down” the sort after everyone is finished. (Example: “/st/ stem, stop. /sm/ smile, smoke.” etc.)

Blending Drill & Wrap-Up

  • NOTE: If you prefer, you can continue using the individual sound cards (rather than the blend cards with two letters on each card) for the blending drill.
  • Place the s-blend sound cards (only the ones for st, sp, sm, sn) in a stack on the table or your blending board, so students can see them. To the right of those cards, place a stack of vowel cards (short vowels). To the right of the vowels, place a stack of single consonant cards. (See the “Blending Drill” video if you’re not familiar with this process.) “Let’s read a few words with blends!” Have students blend the first word by saying each sound and then reading the whole word. For example: /s/ /n/ /ă/ /p/. Snap.” Students should NOT simply shout out the word (they must say each sound and blend.) If students struggle, model saying each sound and then blending the sounds together. Students should show a thumbs-up if a real word has been made. (Nonsense words are okay as long as students know that they have not made a real word, but see my note about working with English Language Learners on p. 1 of the lesson plans.)
  • After they finish with one word, switch the blend, vowel, or final consonant sound card to make a new word. Then, have students repeat the blending process. Continue, going through at least 6-8 words. Don’t spend any longer than 2-3 minutes on this part of the lesson.
  • “Great job! We're going to keep practicing s blends in our next lesson.”

Follow-Up Lessons on Consonant Blends

This is just one lesson in the sequence, and it's a very simple introduction. Students continue practicing and expanding upon these concepts and learn other consonant blends in future lessons.

If students are struggling with consonant blends, watch this video for strategies to help:

 Also note that we don't need students to memorize every single blend. What we do need them to do is to learn how to blend sounds together in words like "step" or "grab."

Our phonics program, From Sounds to Spelling, covers consonant blends at the end of Kindergarten, at the beginning of first grade, and then with a quick review at the beginning of second grade.

To grab several free weeks' worth of lesson plans, an assessment, and a phonics scope and sequence, sign up for the free trial here (no credit card required).

Examples of Phonemic Awareness Activities

In What Order Do You Teach Vowels?

Free Phonics Sound Charts for Kindergarten, 1st Grade, and 2nd Grade