Learn How To Easily Teach Phonemic Segmentation Using The Science Of Reading

Phoneme Segmentation

Are your students having trouble segmenting the sounds in your spelling words?

I’ve got some ideas for you to try that will help your kiddos practice in your whole group or independent spelling centers.

Learn how to teach your students phonemic segmentation at the same time using the Science Of Reading.

Spelling centers

Segmenting and blending are the two most critical skills in the development of phonemic awareness.

As you can see in the image, there are six components which help students develop strong phonemic awareness. 


In order of easiest to most difficult, they are:

  • Phoneme Isolation, where they can hear the sound within a word.
  • Blending is when your students take the sounds they hear and put them together to make new words.
  • Segmentation, which we are working on today is dividing the word into different sounds.
  • Addition, is adding new sounds to existing words, like turning she into shell by adding the l sound to the end.
  • Deletion is removing parts of a word to make a new word. You’d do this if you changed the word plug into lug.
  • And finally, substitution is when you change a sound in a word. You’d do this when you add a silent e to the end of the word can, changing the word to cane.

Phonemic Segmentation is when your students can divide words into sounds.

Phonemic awareness is essential to proficient word recognition and decoding. When a student can segment their words into phonemes (break the word into sounds), they are learning that those sounds can then be manipulated into new words.

Segmenting is an important part of developing phonemic awareness. As we are learning that the science of reading techniques to learn phonemic awareness are proven successful for your kiddos to learn to read, write, and understand their words, we can’t forget segmenting.

So how do you practice segmenting words with your students?

You first practice with isolating and blending words.

Let’s take the word snail.


You’ll say the word snail, then invite your students to count on their fingers as you say the word slower.

Then, move onto blending. If a word has three parts, I like to use movement for blending the word together. And I like to use my shoulder, elbow, and hand.

Once you’ve practiced isolating and blending the sounds you’re reading to practice segmentation.

I like to use sound boxes for segmentation.

You can use the elkonin boxes, or just regular boxes that students write their sounds in.

Elkonin boxes

If you remember, or if you’re like me, you probably still have the resources in your filing cabinet where students would fill in the boxes based on the size or shape of the letter, like this…

but as we learn more about the science of reading, this doesn’t help your kiddos learn their sounds, so you’ll want to use sound boxes instead.

segmentation letter boxes
phonemic segmentation sound boxes

Or you can even use the fidget pop thingies. Do these have an official name? Anyway, have your students say each sound as they push down the bubble.

fidget poppers

Once you’ve taught your students how to segment their words, they’ll be ready to practice in your spelling centers. One of my favorite ways to practice this is by using emojis. I’ve got these emoji products available right here in my shop that focus on phonemic segmentation.

  • Use this resource at your spelling center for a print-and-go activity that will save you time each week as you prep for your centers.
  • Slide the pages into dry erase pockets for reusable centers or print the black and white versions for a consonant blends packet.

I like to use the emoji activities with these dry erase pockets from Amazon, they’ll last forever, and you can use them for ANYTHING. This is an affiliate link, which doesn’t cost you anything extra, its just a little way to support us here.

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If you have a video linked to a QR code, you can also scan it right through this.

I add the practice page right into the dry erase pockets and all your students need to do is take one to practice. The first thing they’ll do is read the word, then they’ll touch each emoji as they segment the word.

They’ll then build the word with magnet letters, trace the word, then write the word, and finally use the word in a sentence.

These are also available in black and white if you’d like to make booklets for your students to practice their words and send them home.

If you’re wanting a digital spelling center, this is available on Google Slides, Seesaw, and Boom Cards.

Make teaching phoneme segmentation fun with these spelling activities. These phonemic awareness activities are great for your students to practice segmenting words into phonemes. And with the fun emoji activities, your students won’t even know how hard they’re working on their spelling words.

Your kiddos will listen to the audio on each card – super helpful if you’ve got pictures that are a bit tricky to figure out – then read the word, tap each sound as they practice their segmentation, and write each word.

These phoneme segmentation activities are available on Google Slides, Seesaw, and Boom Learning.

Boom Learning Cards are self-checking which saves you time on grading!

This product also has an extra fun component for when your students are done with their segmentation practice.
Your students will cut and paste emojis onto the correct spelling of a word (you can use a bingo dauber), or they can do this digitally as well.

Since these phonemic segmentation activities have a fun interactive element, your students will be engaged more than if you chose a regular worksheet. Whether you print the pages or assign the digital slides, your students will love these spelling activities. You’ll love how easy they are to prep!

emojis segmentation printable

Looking for more...

Here is an article I wrote that might help you with your spelling activities.  You can find it by clicking HERE.

I hope this little introduction to teaching your students phonemic awareness with segmenting words was helpful. 

XoXo rach

Still have questions about Phonemic Awareness?

Here is a video that covers this material, in a bit more detail.

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