Phonics Made Easy: Using Compound Words to Teach Blending Sounds to Struggling Readers

Phonics Made Easy: Using Compound Words to Teach Blending Sounds to Struggling Readers

For many struggling readers, understanding the sounds that make up words can be a major challenge. Phonics instruction is a critical part of helping these students develop reading skills, but it can often be difficult and frustrating. However, research has shown that teaching compound words can be an effective way to make phonics instruction more engaging and accessible for struggling readers.

According to literacy expert Dr. Timothy Shanahan in his book "Teaching Phonics Today," "Compound words offer an opportunity for students to practice blending sounds together in a meaningful context" (Shanahan, 2016).

This process of breaking down and blending sounds is fundamental to developing strong phonemic awareness skills, which are essential for reading success.

Furthermore, learning about compound words can also help struggling readers develop their vocabulary knowledge. As explained by education researcher Dr. Susan Neuman in her article "The Role of Vocabulary Instruction in Early Literacy Development," "compound words provide opportunities for expanding vocabulary knowledge by building on familiar base words" (Neuman, 2009).

By learning about the meaning of each individual part of a compound word, struggling readers can better understand how new words are formed and expand their overall vocabulary.

So how can educators incorporate compound word instruction into their phonics teaching strategies?

One effective method is through the use of word sorts or other hands-on activities. These tools allow students to physically manipulate different parts of a compound word and practice blending them together.

For example, educators could use our Compound Word Worksheets which feature common compound words such as "rainbow" and "sunflower."

It's important to note that while compound word instruction can be beneficial for struggling readers, it should be tailored to meet each student's individual needs. Educators may need to adapt their teaching methods based on each student's level of understanding and communication abilities.

In conclusion, incorporating compound word instruction into phonics curriculum can make learning more engaging and accessible for struggling readers.

By using targeted teaching strategies such as word sorts or puzzles, educators can help teach blending sounds in a meaningful context while expanding vocabulary knowledge at the same time.


  • Shanahan T. (2016). Teaching Phonics Today: A Primer for Educators. International Reading Association.
  • Neuman S.B., & Dwyer J. (2009). The Role of Vocabulary Instruction in Early Literacy Development. Journal of Literacy Research, 41(3), 439–468
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