Where am I in the Reading Universe Taxonomy?
The reason it’s important for students to be able to hold sounds in their memory is because they’ll need to be able to do it when they eventually sound out words (decoding ) — and when they spell words (encoding). Students begin to develop this memory during phonemic awareness instruction.
If your students struggle to remember three-phoneme words, go back to two-phoneme words and use physical tokens (for example, felts or coins) to represent each sound they hear in the word.
You could start them with see, ate, and up, for example.
This requires them to remember each sound in isolation. As you go through more words, alternate the order you ask these questions, asking for the last sound first sometimes. This will require students to rely on their memory by pulling the sounds in random order. If they forget, have them touch and say the sounds again, then repeat the questions.
Once they can do this accurately and consistently with two-phoneme words, increase the complexity by practicing with three-phoneme words … and three tokens.
You could start with words like fun, bake, and shop. (You can find other options from our printable word list.)
After practicing with two-sound words and adding tokens to the process, remembering all three sounds should now be easier for your students.
When students are able to do this accurately with the tokens, remove the tokens and practice segmenting words and identifying sounds without them.