Most Important Skills for Beginning Readers

Most Important Skills for Beginning Readers from Teach Magically

What is the most important thing you can do to help beginning readers?

Segmenting and blending…phonemic awareness. Through a Tier 3 RTI, research study that I participated in, I learned that the most important thing that students need to learn in order to increase reading scores (and future reading success) is phonemic awareness, segmenting and blending.  

What is Segmenting?

Segmenting is the ability to segment the sounds into their phonemes.

Segmenting Steps

1st-you want to focus on the beginning sound of a word. I practice this a lot with the students’ names. For example, when I say, “What sound do you hear at the beginning of Gavin?”

Students should be able to say, “/g/” ….sound as in game, not g the letter.

After the student says the beginning sound, then ask them, “What’s the name of the letter that makes that sound?”

Students then say, “g” the letter name.

2nd-focus on the ending sounds. Remember to make sure it is sounds they already know. If you worked with g and m, those are sounds you want to make sure you ask for the ending when working on ending sounds. 

For example-This is a resource I use once I introduce the letter t. It makes the student listen for the beginning or ending sound of /t/. Check out the preview on Boom Learning

Most Important Skills for Beginning Readers from Teach Magically

Lastly, focus on the middle sound… vowels are difficult.

We will hit the letter /a/ as quickly as we can because they know the sound the a makes as in apple.

Anytime they hear /a /in the middle of the word, we can do the beginning, middle, and the ending of the word. (If there is a vowel they don’t know…just skip the middle sound.)

Check out Segmenting the Short a cvc Words Boom Cards. You can check out all the decks I use at my Boom Learning Store Teach Magically.

Most Important Skills for Beginning Readers from Teach Magically

Sound boxes 

Sound boxes are the best way to help with segmenting. You will draw a rectangle with three parts, then tap and touch each box as they say the sounds. (or I use worksheets that already have the boxes)


Most Important Skills for Beginning Readers from Teach Magically

I will tap them on the square and the kids can tap their fingers or….give them their own and they tap and say the sounds. (BINGO dabbers makes it fun)

What is Blending?

Blending is the second part of phonemic awareness that is important. It is putting the sounds that we call phonemes together so that they touch.


Blending the sounds together is so much easier if you make the first 2 sound touch then add the 3rd sound.

Start by segmenting the word first. /j/ /u/ /g/…then blend.

  1. Restart and say the 1st sound until you say the next sound. /jjjuuuu/
  2. Add the final sound /ju/ + /g/
  3. Say it quickly /jug/-jug

jug Blending Puzzle Teach Magically

For students that are really reading a lot of words and know most of their sounds, I like to make up nonsense words like piz.

They then have to break this down and blend and segment the word and are not just remembering these words from their memories. Nonsense words works these important skills.

Blending Words from Teach Magically


Phonemic awareness is even more important than sight words. The two important skills in kindergarten, beginning readers, for phonemic awareness are segmenting and blending.

For segmenting, take the word mat, and break it down into the phonemes, or sounds.

For blending, make the sounds touch. Check out other Blending Made Easy for more info.

You still have to practice the onset rhyme for rhyming, sight words, word awareness, and how many syllables are in a word. Check out all phonological awareness skills on my Page Phonological Awareness Skills.

If you have any questions please put them in the comments below. Remember to join me every Wednesday at 6:30 pm EST on Facebook Live to talk about some things to help teachers teach.

Feel free to comment with any questions that you have. You can find the link to my products on Tpt Debora Marines TeachMagically.


Debora Marines at Teach Magically

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