This page unveils one of the major building blocks of reading success, phonological awareness.
What is Phonological Awareness?
Phonological awareness refers to the ability to segment and manipulate the sounds of oral language. It is not the same as phonics, which involves knowing how written letters relate to spoken sounds. Activities that develop phonological awareness in children provide practice with rhyme and with beginning sounds and syllables. (from ILA, International Literacy Association)
- Phonological awareness is not just phonics.
- Phonological awareness is auditory and does not involve words in print.
- Phonological awareness is not a curriculum.
Why is phonological awareness important?
“Research has shown that a child’s awareness of the sounds of spoken words is a strong predictor of his or her later success in learning to read.” (ILA)
The ability to hear the sounds in words and to isolate the sounds from one another can help a child become a reader. Even before he learns the letters of the alphabet, a child can say the sounds in his language. When he can hear the sounds in a word and tell where the sounds occur in the word, he is developing pre-reading skills.
The term ‘phonological awareness’ does not describe just one skill, rather it encompasses a whole list of important skills. The following are all important parts of phonemic awareness:
Sound Word Discrimination
- (Tells whether words or sounds are the same or different) cat/cat= same cat/car= different
- (Identifies which word is different) sun, fun, sun = fun is different
- (Tells difference between single phonemes) Which one is different? /s/ /s/ /k/ ?
- (orally blends onset-rimes) What word is this? m-ilk
- (orally blends syllables) What word is this? mon-key
- (orally blends 2 or 3 phonemes into one word) What word am I trying to say? /m/ /o/ /p/?
- (initial sound isolation): What is the first sound in mop?
- (final sound isolation): What is the last sound in mop?
Claps syllables in 1, 2, and 3 syllable words
- (Identifying rhyming words) Do “cat” and “mat” rhyme?
- (Produces a rhyming word) Tell me what word rhymes with nose?
O.K., so now I know what phonological awareness is, but how do I teach it?”
The best way to teach phonological awareness to your students is through fun games and songs in addition to a wide variety of hands-on activities. Teachers can encourage play with spoken language as part of their overall literacy programs. Nursery rhymes, songs, poems, and read-alouds that manipulate sounds are all effective methods via which to develop phonemic awareness.
Phonological Awareness Resources
HeidiSongs Singable Songs for Letters and Sounds DVD is a fantastic product to use with young children because it incorporates music and movement which brain research has proven to be effective. This DVD teaches letter identification in combination with letter sounds.
HeidiSongs Little Songs for Language Arts DVD features songs for teaching phonemic awareness and concepts of print, such as words in a sentence and beginning sounds in words.
FREE Beginning Sounds Activity
Download this free, printable beginning sound activity on the blog HERE.
FREE Rhyming Bingo
Download the free, printable rhyming bingo game HERE.
FREE Rhyming Cards
Download the free, printable rhyming cards on the blog HERE.
FREE Printable Syllable Lotto Game Board
To play this fun game gather small objects that have different numbers of syllables such as the objects from the Lakeshore Letter Sound Teaching Tubs. Place the pre-selected objects in a basket or tub and students will take turns selecting an object and placing it on their mat in the square with the corresponding number of syllables. Download the free, printable syllable lotto game board HERE.
This is a very easy game to prepare. First, gather your small objects as listed in the activity above. Next, divide a paper into three columns and write a number at the top of each column. Students will sort the objects into the correct column according to the number of syllables.
You can find more phonological awareness ideas on the individual theme pages.
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