Phonemic Awareness

What is phonemic awareness? Why is it important?
A phoneme is the smallest sound in a spoken word that distinguishes it from other words. For example the first phoneme in the word “sit” is “s”. Change the “s” to an “h” and you change the word’s meaning to “hit”. The third phoneme in the word “sit” is “t”. Change the phoneme “t” to “p” and you change the meaning again. Now you have the word “sip”.

When children understand that letters represent sounds (phonemes) and that phonemes come together to form words there is a marked increase in their reading fluency.

How do you check for phonemic awareness?
Children show phonemic awareness when they can demonstrate the following:
1. Break apart a word into separate sounds. (cat = c-a-t)
2. Recognize words starting with the same letter. (ball, bat, bow)
3. Find rhyming words. (dog, log, hog)
4. Point out what the first or last sound in a word is. (The last sound in “cat” is “t”)

A wonderful activity to encourage phonemic awareness is to:
1. Read a story to your child.
2. Let the child select 5 of the important or interesting words from the story.
3. Have the child watch while you write the chosen words onto sentence strips or cards.
4. Let the child trace the word, copy the word, play matching games with the word, etc.
5. Make a “key word book”. Download free instructions here.

Making a key word book.

Making a key word book.


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