How do I teach Phonological Awareness?

Ideas for playing with words
Try using familiar rhymes or easy to remember sentences for the following tasks.  These are great activities for using rhythm sticks, balls, and sponge tip applicators:

  • Tapping, clapping, and snapping words in a sentence
  • Counting and tallying words in a sentence

Try using picture or small toy props to help children remember the word you want them to think about. Snap-together cubes work great for compound words:

  • Putting together and taking apart compound words

Ideas for playing with syllables
Again, these are great activities for using rhythm sticks, balls, and sponge tip applicators:

  • Tapping, clapping, and snapping syllables in a word
  • Counting syllables in words

Try using boxes, bags, or hoops to help sort picture cards or small toys:

  • Sorting words by the number of syllables

Ideas for playing with parts of syllables (onset and rime)
Try using picture cards or small toys to support children’s memory of the words you are asking them to think about:

  • Tapping, clapping, and snapping parts of a syllable
  • Saying one-syllable words without the first chunk (onset)

Ideas for playing with rhyming words:
Try using picture cards or small toys to support children’s memory of the words you are asking them to think about:

  • Hearing rhyming words
  • Naming rhyming words
  • Matching rhyming words

Cautions about rhyming:  It used to be that sensitizing young children to rhyming words was the full extent of phonological awareness skill development in preschool and kindergarten classes.  Now we understand from research that there are multiple levels of skill development associated with phonological awareness; it is clearer now that rhyming is one of the most challenging of the phonological awareness skills.  In order to identify, match, or generate rhyming words children must also understand that syllables can be broken into sounds parts (onset and rime) and that initial sounds can be deleted and a new onset be added to the original rime. If you are working with young children who are having difficulty identifying, matching, or generating rhyming words, then you will want to provide additional coaching and practice with syllable parts (onset and rime) and deleting and manipulating the initial sound or phoneme in a word.

When young children have mastered the skill levels above, you may begin to challenge them to think about the individual sounds in words, or the phonemes.

Ideas for playing with individual sounds of words (phonemes):
Try using picture cards or small toys to support children’s memory of the words you are asking them to think about:

  • Tapping, clapping, and snapping individual sounds in words
  • Saying one-syllable words without the first sound; last sound

Try using boxes, bags, or hoops to help sort picture cards or small toys to help them learn how to play with the first sound/last sound in a word:

  • Matching words that start/end with the same
  • Changing the first/last sound
  • Naming the first/last sound