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Blending, Vowel Drills, Dictation and Sight Words Explained

Blending,  Vowel Drills, Dictation & Sight Words Explained


Teaching Foundations Can Be Tricky, I am here to help!

So today is not much of written explanations, but more video visuals of how I facilitate a 30 minute block of foundational skills through distance learning. I asked my sweet friend's mom if I could record our session so I could support other teachers during this time understand and visualize how k-2 phonics can look. She emphatically agreed to help and I am thankful for her willingness to share her child's learning with you.

While this is not the absolute way to facilitate this time, it is the most effective method I have found thus far. I use it with all my tutoring students and this is how I taught my kindergarteners when this season began.

So before each session, here is what I have on hand, there are links to all these materials in my post Bite Sized PD: 5 Steps to Facilitating Foundations and Small Groups Digitally. If you are a visual and auditory processor like I am here is a video:

You may have many of these tools on hand, you may need to invest in a document camera. I assure you it is a worthwhile purchase, I cannot teach or record videos without it.

Blending Board In Action

Here is a demonstration of how we use the blending cards during his session:


I would like you to notice that there is not a lot of belaboring a concept. If he makes an error, I quickly give a prompt like, "Check your vowel," or I articulate the sound and we move on. Time is of the essence and just like in class we are tasked with keeping student engagement high.


Have you ever noticed that students often have a hard time isolating and articulating their vowel sounds. We see it in their writing and in reading we often hear the incorrect articulation of sound. The vowel drill is an OG practice that supports each child in their isolation and articulation. There are three levels of practicing these skills and my student sways between practicing vc and cvc isolation. The 3 levels are:

  1. vowel: The sound is /a/ (any short vowel sound)

  2. vowel consonant: The sound is /ib/ (any vowel consonant variation)

  3. consonant vowel consonant: The sound is cat

Students respond with a(or anyvowel name) says /a/

Here is a demonstration of how we practice level 3 of the drill:

If at anytime for whole class or small group students are having a hard time isolating, go back a level and practice! Nothing wrong with slowing down to eventually speed up!

The blending bundle comes with student vowel cards and a blending mat as well. The students can see and access exactly what you are looking at. If you prefer to make your own, I used mini index cards and post-its to create the more colorful version. However, for some students too many colors can be overwhelming, so to lower visual clutter the blending cards work.

Before I go on, I want to address storage. Yes, if you read my last blog post and saw all the cards in the mini video, I REALIZE it is a lot. HOWEVER, the photo boxes work really well from Michaels (task card boxes) work really well. You can store sets of future sound cards you plan on distributing to students or use them for individual student practice sets or have sests built for DIFFERENTIATION groups. They work really well to store pre-cut and sorted sounds AND they are the right size for students to house their own materials.

Dictation in Action

The last 11 minutes of this learning block is sight words and dictation. I think we accomplish a ton in this 11 minutes. We could have accomplished more, however, children are children and they become easily distracted by birds, garbage cans, and passing neighbors. It happens. In order to have a successful session in dictation make sure to have a sight word prepped, 5 words to dictate and a sentence. It makes it go quicker and more efficiently.

Simple and effective tools are all you need!

I model in a primary journal and this is when I pull out my Sharpie Brush Pens. I love those darn pens. Here is how this part went. I kept the 11 minutes, so you can see exactly how I pace and present the time, but it is broken into 3 videos:Dictation and Sight Words:Sentence Dictation:Sight Words:I know this was a lot of content!There is one thing I left out, how I use Emily Gibbons of the Literacy Nest's Materials. Simply put, we decode words using our feature/focus sound. Here is an example and remember you can find all her resources on her blog and in her store!I am uber grateful to my student's family for allowing me to record what I was doing so I could share content with you. I think there is something to be said about live content versus being told how to implement strategies.

If this was a helpful post please send it to your friends or colleagues. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to reach out. I am here to problem solve with as many teachers who want and need a thinking partner.

As always, I am grateful to be in community with YOU!

Be safe and be well.



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  • JB on

    LOVE watching it in action. Did you share how you made your board somewhere? I don’t see it anywhere. Thanks for sharing!

  • Jamecia Hardy on

    This was so helpful and concise! No fluff and right to the point. Thank you so much for the videos, I love seeing things in action.

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