What is it?
Phonemic awareness is the awareness of basic speech sounds. Phonemic awareness activities help young children know that words are made of sounds.
As children learn to hear, copy and play with separate sounds, they begin to understand letter-sound relationships. These kinds of activities that stimulate early literacy in preschool and kindergarten help children get ready for reading.
Phonemic awareness skills...
Children need to be able to:
- hear rhyming words e.g. hit, bit, sit, lit
- break words into syllables e.g. hel i cop ter
- hear some beginning sounds e.g. Peter Pumpkin picked...
- blend sounds together to make words j-um-p
- hear beginning and ending sounds
e.g. pen starts with p; ends with n
- delete a beginning or end sound to make a new word.
E.g. meat eat or bump bum
Phonemic awareness early literacy activities are fun for children if you turn them into games. I begin with rhythm and rhyme as it helps children develop auditory discrimination and awareness. There are many commercial games and supplies available for rhyming activities.
Use your imagination to make up simple games. A stack of rhyming cards and a title is generally enough to hold the students' attention when teaching phonemic awareness rhyming activities.
E.g. "Build a Road"
- have the children sit in a circle on the carpet, give each child a rhyme card
- the teacher holds the matching rhyming cards
- the teacher places the first card on the carpet, the child with the matching card places his/her card next to the teacher's card, starting a row
- as each new teacher rhyming card is placed on the rug, the child with the matching card takes a turn placing his/her card beside it to "build a road"
- the teacher prompts when necessary
- the children like to make the roads twist and turn all over the carpet
Kindergarten children are easily motivated to play games, just change the names and format often to keep their attention.
Use rhyming puzzles to teach early literacy activities
Rhyming puzzles also help children to grasp the concept of rhyme. In the beginning of the year, I remove all but 4 or 5 sets of cards from the puzzle boxes as some children get overwhelmed by the number of choices a whole box offers.
Pocket chart activities
I use the pocket chart a lot for teaching rhyme. Be sure to use rhyming pictures that are clearly identifiable to children sitting the farthest away. Sit on the carpet yourself and check the pictures from a student's viewpoint.
The children like to take turns placing their cards next to the correct rhyming cards in the pocket chart. Change the cards with themes, literature and seasons.
The pictures in many rhyming puzzles are clear, colorful images and are the perfect size for the pocket chart.
Although the cards were designed for teaching rhyme, the individual picture puzzle pieces can also be used to teach many other aspects of phonemic awareness, such as beginning or ending sounds.
Reading books that rhyme help children to grasp the concept. Emphasize the rhyming words as you read. After a while the children will guess the rhyming word if you pause before saying them.
Students also like to make their own little rhyming books. Give them stiff paper cut into rectangles, a stapler and felts. Some will want to copy items that rhyme from a chart, others will think of their own words.
Remember - model the process first.
Other areas of phonemic awareness
I have only touched on rhyming activities here. For more information on rhythm, teaching parts of a word, sequencing sounds, separation of sounds and manipulation of sounds I recommend Getting Ready to Read: Independent Phonemic Awareness Centers for Emergent Readers (I Can Read! (Creative Teaching Press).
My class really enjoyed playing these games and regular playing of the games ensured that all students got sequential teaching in phonemic awareness. It is fairly time consuming to make the games but I had a wonderful parent who volunteered to construct and laminate most of the games.
Other phonemic awareness products available from Amazon.com
Beginner book sets
Christmas story map
Hands on literacy activities
Listening and speaking
Make your own worksheets software
Math and literature section
Mini-books - tips for using
Outside activities that encourage reading and writing
Picture books - criteria for choosing and suggestions
Picture books 2
Picture book illustrators
Picture book videos (DVDs)
Responding to literature
"Theme" - check out this section for more literacy ideas