What is Phonemic Awareness?
Phonemic awareness is a child’s basic understanding that speech is composed of a series of sounds. It is the ability to manipulate these sounds, known as phonemes, in words orally. Playing with words and sounds verbally is the best way to help children hear how these sounds fit together to make words.
Levels of phonemic awareness, Adams (1990):
- Rhyme and alliteration – to hear rhymes and alliteration as measured by knowledge of nursery rhymes
- Oddity Tasks – comparing and contrasting the sounds of words for rhyme and alliteration
- Blending and splitting syllables
- Phonemic segmentation – being able to identify and count the individual sounds in a word
- Phoneme manipulation – manipulating sounds by taking away or adding a sound, thereby creating a new word
Easy (and fun) Phonemic Awareness Activities
- Read aloud often from books with rhyming words, alphabet books, Mother Goose, and Dr. Seuss.
- Play with words – tongue twisters, rhyme games, and making up nonsense words to rhyme
Blending means putting separate sounds together to make a word.
Example: Say the separate sounds of ‘cat’/c//a//t/ and have your child blend them together to say the word “cat”. This should be fluent and quick.
Segmenting means breaking words apart into separate sounds; stretch the word out slowly (like talking underwater).
Example: Say the word ‘fan’ and tell your child to separate the sounds /f/—/a/—/n/.
It is important for children to be able to segment the sounds in a word as well as take sounds and blend them into a word. This game will help practice doing both.
a. Say a segmented word aloud and have your child echo the blended word in response. For example: say /p/ /a/ /n/ and the child should respond pan.
b. You say the blended word pan and have the child echo the segmented word /p/ /a/ /n/.