Phonemic awareness is the foundation skill beginning readers must master.
Phonemic awareness is not a new term. It became known in educational circles as a result of researchers publishing their findings on early literacy development and reading disability.
For example the word hop has 3 phonemes: /h/ /o/ /p/.
To develop fluent reading, a child must have the ability to hear and manipulate the sounds in words.
As well as hop, they can distinguish pop, stop, mop, bop and so on.
Children develop this ability at different rates.
Phonemic awareness is the best indicator of early reading success. This is probably because a reader has to understand the alphabetic principle (the relationship between letters and sounds).
Following are some simple activities you can do with your child to check their phonemic or sound awareness. If you notice any difficulty organise a hearing test. In fact I think all children need to have hearing tests. Many children have ear infections that can affect hearing.
Also check eyesight. I have seen numerous children miss out on chunks of their education due to undiagnosed sight issues. If hearing and sight are OK and your child still has difficulties don’t ignore it as there could be a processing issue and early intervention is necessary to ensure they are not left behind.
Phonemic Awareness Activities
‘I Spy with my little Eye’
I spy with my little eye something beginning with /b/. (For example bath)
Do this activity in short bursts and often. Great as an activity whilst travelling.
Making up Rhymes
I saw a dog bark at a frog.
I saw a frog jump off a log.
I saw a bee fly near a tree.
Encourage your child to contribute.
What sound does this word begin with?
Say a word slowly. (For example banana) Ask your child for the beginning sound.
You can also have some pictures. Ask the child for the word and then for the beginning sound.
Say some words beginning with the same sound.
Bat, ball, bin, bike, bun. Ask what sound do these words begin with.
Say a word and ask your child for one that rhymes with it. (For example house/ mouse)
Last Sound in a Word
Ask the child to say the last sound in a word.
Say a word clearly (for example trick)
The last sound is /k/ spelt ck
Middle (Medial) Sounds
What sound do these words have that is the same?
An example: road, boat, float, robe Remember this is oral work. The same vowel sound can have different spellings.
Three Letter Words
Sound out a three letter word: d-o-g
Ask the child to give you the word or choose a picture that represents it.
Have the following sets of sound boxes
Set One – 2 boxes drawn side by side
Set Two – Three boxes drawn side by side
Set Three – Three boxes drawn side by side
You will also need 4 counters.
Place the boxes on a table in front of your child.
Place counters below each box. Say a word (for example: at) Ask the child to say sounds.
For each sound, they push a counter up into the sound box.
Do the same with words of three and four sounds as well.
Have a picture from a picture book or magazine.
Tell your child you will say the name of an object, animal or person in the picture but without its first sound. Ask the child to guess the correct name. (For example _ird)
Make them short and fun without any tension.
This book contains a range of activities.
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