Have you ever heard the term phonemic awareness and wondered what it is?
I get a lot of emails from parents who are ready to teach their child how to read. They tell me that their children know their letters and their sounds, therefore they are Ready to READ! “Where do we start and what do we do next?” they ask.
I LOVE their enthusiasm! I LOVE their willingness to dive right in.
However… diving into a full-blown reading curriculum at that early stage is not the next step. Instead, to build a strong foundation for reading success, children need to master Phonological/Phonemic Awareness.
What is Phonological/Phonemic Awareness?
Phonological and Phonemic Awareness is the ability to hear, identify and manipulate sounds (phonemes). This skill provides a strong foundation for early reading success. As students become more proficient in hearing, identifying and manipulating sounds, they can successfully move onto segmenting and blending words. Therefore, a systematic and cohesive approach to teaching phonological awareness can build confident readers who are less likely to struggle with decoding and spelling skills. Students with strong phonemic awareness are much more likely to be successful readers.
Who Can Benefit from Phonological/Phonemic Awareness?
Reading instruction is important for all students. A strong foundation in phonological/phonemic awareness can benefit:
*Students with autism or other developmental disabilities
*Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten and 1st Grade Students
Authentic Phonemic Awareness is done without printed words. It is all about the sounds that letters make. It gives students the ability to work with sounds, manipulate sounds and master these sounds in a variety of ways. When students are able to do these skills successfully, they are able to jump into phonics with a lot less struggle. Phonics (not Phonemic Awareness) works with connecting the sounds to printed letters and words. When you target phonemic awareness first, it allows a child to focus on one thing…sounds. However, when you try to teach both phonemic awareness (sounds) and phonics (linking sounds to letters and words), it can be overwhelming and frustrating for children learning to read.
When a child struggles with reading, the gaps are often connected to a lack of phonemic awareness skills. Fortunately, going back and reinforcing these skills can help fill in the gaps and build stronger readers.
Within my Phonemic Awareness Bundle, I have provided an opportunity to practice many skills necessary to give children a strong foundation with sounds. Let’s take a look at this bundle, see how it works and why it is an important component to reading success.
The pictures and activities that I am about to show you below are all stored in my Phonemic Awareness Kit. This is EASY to set up and just requires a box and some file folders. This method keeps me organized and all of my materials are in one place. When my teaching materials are organized, I am more equipped to meet the needs of those that I am teaching.
In this post, I will show you 13 different activities to help build phonemic awareness.
Also Included in the Bundle:
This bundle has everything that you’ll need to set a strong foundation for reading readiness. In addition to the activities, the bundle includes pre-assessments, quarterly scopes, lessons plans, post-assessments and progress trackers.
The mid-assessments help you to identify the pace of a student’s learning, while the post-assessment gives you the opportunity to gage mastery of the skills that have been taught. The assessment trackers allow you to easily identify small groups and students who may benefit from scaffold or extension activities.
The scope gives you a brief outline of the skills that will be introduced and reviewed on a weekly basis.
Each lesson plan offers a brief introduction or review that can be implemented in a large or small group. This lesson is then followed by an activity to allow students to practice what they have learned. A section of anecdotal notes to assist in your teaching.
What are the Components to Phonemic Awareness?
I like to start with and include the following packets when teaching phonemic awareness:
Let’s start with Beginning Sounds. This is a great place to start, but it is typically the only component of phonemic awareness that many people implement.
Once you print out the letters and picture cards, it is a great idea to set them up and get them organized. Therefore, I print, laminate and cut out all of the pieces.
Although you typically don’t want to use printed letters or words when teaching phonemic awareness, I found it helpful with the pocket chart cards. It lays a great foundation for beginning sounds.
Each set of pocket chart cards has a picture of the beginning sound for every letter of the alphabet.
When beginning readers start to read, they often delete the ending sound and make up their own sound. For example, if they see (or even sound out) the “ca..” in a word, they automatically assume that it must be the word CAT. They don’t take time to sound out the ending sounds. Beginning readers often make up words as they go. However, by strategically focusing on ending sounds, you can eliminate this problem, and help students to hear the ending sounds in each word. By focusing on this skill of isolation sounds, you are helping to prepare a student to read successfully and with a lot less struggle. You are laying a foundation for success when they start to learn phonics.
For the ending sounds packets, you will need 2 file folders.
This is a FUN packet to work with as students use hands-on manipulatives to hear each sound and blend the sounds together. This task really helps set students up for success when it comes to phonics and sounding out words. I like to use these counters when segmenting and blending sounds in a word.
This is a picture of a rat. Even the word mouse would work.
The word rat has three sounds /r/ /a/ /t/….rat.
Students put a counter up for each sound they hear. This helps them isolate each sound in the word. If there are 3 circles, that means they must hear and isolate those 3 sounds. This really helps students to SLOW DOWN and isolate every sound.
Once they finish pushing up the counters for each sound, they sweep their finger across the arrow to blend the word.
Begin by having students make a playdough ball for each circle on the mat. As they segment the phonemes (sound out each sound), they smash a ball.
It’s FUN, they like doing it, and they are really forced to hear each sound!
Once again, they would use the arrow to sweep and blend the sounds to make the word.
One of my favorite ways to segment words and to blend them is with a slinky.
Not only are these activities great for developing phonemic awareness skills, but it also helps students build spelling skills.
This packet works with words that have 2, 3, 4, and 5 phonemes (sounds).
The Counting Syllables Sorting and Clip Cards are similar to the Visual and Tactile packet, except this activity include numerals to note how many syllables are in the word.
Sort into containers by the number of syllables.NOTE: If students are struggling to hear the number of syllables in a word, have them place their hand under their chin. The mouth will open and the jaw will drop with each syllable. Once the student feels the jaw tap their hand, they know that is one syllable sound.I use four containers to sort the syllable cards.
Use clothespins to clip the correct number of syllables for each picture.
I like to use the pocket chart with this activity as well.
It tells you what the pictures are and which one is the odd one out.
After the Alphabet Curriculum, here is the next stop:
CVC Word Families
Learning to read should be such a special time for kids!
Keep enjoying the journey!
Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions.