There are 5 components in reading development: Phonemic Awareness, Phonics and Word Study, Vocabulary, Fluency, and Comprehension.  This week I will highlight Phonological and Phonemic Awareness.

Why is it important? It is the strongest predictor of success in early reading. It provides the basis of learning the alphabetic principle and lays the foundation for phonics and spelling.

What is Phonemic Awareness?  It is the ability to hear and manipulate sounds in words.  Not to be confused with phonics.  Phonemic awareness activities are purely auditory and don’t involve seeing printed words like in phonics.

Phonological Awareness Tasks:

  • Word Awareness – Distinguishing separate words in a sentence.
    • Count words in a sentence.
    • Clap or stomp each of the words in a sentence.
  • Alliteration – Identify and producing words that begin with the same sounds.
    • Use a puppet to make silly sentences:  Sara sips strawberry smoothies on Sunday.
  • Syllable Awareness – Counting, clapping, or tapping words into syllables
    • Start with names
    • Use your whole body to clap, stomp, etc
    • Break up words into syllables and have the child guess the word
  • Rhyming – Students will first begin to identify 2 words that rhyme.  Producing a rhyming word comes later.
    • Do cat and bat rhyme?  Shoe and door?
    • What rhymes with pan?

Phonemic Awareness Tasks:

  • Isolating sounds – What is the first and last sound in “cat”
  • Blending sounds  – p/ a/ n (say the individual sounds) = pan or p-an = pan
  • Segmenting sounds – pan = p/ a/ n
  • Deleting sounds – Take s away from scar = car
  • Adding phonemes – Add p sound to “at”  or add s sound to top.
  • Substituting sounds – Change p sound to s sound = pat to sat

Phonemic Awareness Games:

“I Spy”- Once you’ve taught your child a few words, you can use this game to reinforce what he or she has learned. To play, say, “I spy with my own eye, a word that begins with ____” and fill in the blank with a sound. Your child then has to find something that starts with that sound.

The Rhyming Game

“I went to the store and bought _____.”- Same as “I Spy”. Fill in the blank with a sound and have your child say a word that starts with that sound. To make it harder, have your child say a word that has the sound anywhere in it, not just the beginning sound.

Matching Game- Say a word and your child says more words that starts with he same beginning sound or end sound.

Sound Scavenger Hunt- Give your child a paper bag. Then, have him or her collect as many things that start with a given sound as he or she can find in the house. Be sure to let them know that the item has to be able to fit in the bag. It could be a disaster if the sound you chose was /k/, and he or she tried to put the cat in the bag.

Jumping sounds- Sound out a word. Your child jumps for each individual sound in the word.

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes- You can start this one by actually singing the song a couple of times. Then, sound out a word. Your child uses the body parts from the song to identify the different sounds within the word. He or she touches a different part for each sound.

Teacher Task Cards for Phonemic Awareness:  I’m currently using these cards to teach various phonemic awareness skills.  For each skill, there are 3-4 cards with word samples for each skill so that I don’t have to come up with all the word examples myself.  So far I’m really liking it and the kid are enjoying it too.  Please let me know if you would like a copy of these materials and I will share it with you.

It’s easy to find 5-10 minutes in the day to incorporate some sort of phonemic awareness activities and it will help your child with developing their reading and spelling abilities.







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