Compound words are my favourite word set to practice phonemic awareness skills of segmentation blending and manipulation.  They also highlight the need for strong language skills so that children can separate the meaning of words into word segments.  So, it’s no wonder that I have started with compound words as the first topic in our phonemic awareness series. 


First about our project.  Its name is No Limits – we want to make sure that there are No limits on anyone achieving literacy.  In the project, we are working with six kindergartens and six prep school classes.  The project aims to increase oral language and phonemic awareness skills to the overall improvement in literacy skills by the end of grade two.


These aims came about through discussion about the importance of getting kids moving from learning to read to reading to learn by the end of their grade two year (three years of schooling).   Working parties with Principals of the schools highlighted the impact of oral language skills had on phonemic awareness skills.

We are now in the second year of the project, and we are working hard on building competencies so that we won’t be needed after the project ends.  Our primary objective is to do us out of a job for tier one intervention.  Many programs run in schools as part of their literacy curriculum.  Never before has our advocacy for evidence-based been so important. 


So let’s talk about compound words. 


Compound words are words constructed from two real words.
These are great words to use with children learning about segmentation and blending skills.  Kids seem to find segmenting a ‘big’ word into two whole words easier than segmenting syllables which may not have meaning (semantic).

As with all phonemic awareness tasks, these are best done auditorily.  However, pictures can support understanding. It’s all about hearing and manipulating the smaller units of words.  


Compound words – segmentation

When presenting word to kids, I often prompt them to say the word doghouse – what words can you hear in doghouse. 

For example

Clinician – what words can you hear in doghouse

Student – dog and house

I  might also have pictures of a doghouse, dog and house.

Compound Words – blending

Blending is all about putting two words together to produce one new word.

For example:

Clinician –  I have rain and bow – Can you make a new word?

Student – rainbow.


I might support this activity with a picture of rain and bow with another picture of a rainbow.  This is where you can see the impact of their language skills.  Some children become fixated on the images rather than on what they hear.  Use or subtract visuals as needed. 

Compound Words – Manipulation

Manipulation skills are the ultimate skills.  I think this demonstrates when children have consolidated the previous segmentation and blending skills.  When presenting this activity, you can demonstrate using pictures initially; however, to hone through listening skills, you should wean off the images and present words verbally.  I do like to supplement presentation using my hands. 

Move your hands forward as you stay each element of the word –


Clinician – I have dog house.  If I take away the dog – what do you have left.
Student – house

Clinician – I have rainbow.  If I take away bow, what do you have left? 
Student – rain

I have made some graphics which can support your sessions – get them in the Friday freebie section of the website. Don’t have the password.  Sign up for the newsletter and the password will be sent out. 

Are you looking for more?

We have these resources working on compound words.