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, in other words, phonemic awareness. Through a Tier 3 RTI, research study I learned that the most important thing that students need to learn in order to increase reading scores is segmenting fluency.

What is Segmenting?

Segmenting is the ability to break words into the individual sounds. In other words, phonemes.

Segmenting Steps to Help Beginning Readers

1st-you want to focus on the beginning sound of a word. 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 ask, “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 a sound they already know. If you worked with g and m, those are sounds you want to make sure you ask about for 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.

Learn the letter /a/ as quickly as possible because the a makes the sound in apple.


With a words, we can do the beginning, middle, and the ending of the word. If there is an unknown vowel, 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 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

Review of the Most Important Skill for Beginning Readers

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


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


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


You still have to practice the other phonological awareness skills:

  • onset rhyme,
  • sight words,
  • word awareness,
  • syllables

If you have any questions please put them in the comments below.


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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