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Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness skills are ones that Kindergartners practice on an on-going basis throughout the school year and the more practice they have, the better readers and writers they will become. So, let's learn what you can do at home to help develop this skill in your child.

HOW (Method) for Practicing Phonemic

The method for practicing is quite simple.

  1. Demonstrate how you blend sounds by putting both of your hands, palms up and separated by about 12 inches.
  2. 'Place' the initial (beginning) sound in one hand (when facing your child, pretend to place the sound in your right hand but your child is placing it in his/her left hand)
  3. 'Place' the rime (ending sound) in the other hand.
  4. Bring both hands together to b-l-e-n-d the sounds together
  5. Have your child mimic you to blend new rhyming words.
  6. Using the same rime, change the beginning sound (onset) by 'tossing' the sound you are changing over your shoulder and pretend to place a new sound in the palm of your hand. Ask your child to tell you the new word. (i.e., Change the /j/ to /b/, what's the word?)
Phonemic Awareness Activities

Use the method shown above for each of the following activities. Your child will see it as a game so have fun! Don't spend too much time on each activity; five minutes is more than enough time.

Beginning Sounds=Rhyming=Word Families
In 1st grade children learn what are called 'Word Families' which are basically words that have have the same rime (ending). The following would be in the same 'family' of words: sun, bun, gun, run, fun, nun.
DJIJulysunshine1Start with an easy rime like -og, and add the onset /d/ to get the word dog.
Now, change the /d/ to /j/. See how easily (or how hard) it is for your child tomake the switch. This is called 'replacing the initial (or beginning) sound.'
Dr. Seuss was well-known for making up silly, nonsensical words that rhyme simply by using this particular technique when writing his children's books (do you remember how the 'Gink likes to drink pink ink?' or that 'Mr. Wump has a Gump with a hump?'). Don't worry if you come up with silly words, too. It's all in fun!
Ending Sounds
Oooh…now this one is definitely more challenging, believe me. Rhyming is a lot simpler but having children isolate and change ending sounds is extremely difficult. The reason is because most people do NOT enunciate clearly when they speak so, as a result, children do not hear that last sound.
Use the same method but this time, the ending is changing so use something like djibarnpigc1
pi- /g/ = pig
Then, keep the pi-
and replace the /g/ with /t/ by saying pi- /t/ /t/ /t/
Know in advance that Kindergartners will have great difficulty with this and will try to give you a rhyming word instead.
Practice with words that end in a consonant instead of those ending in vowels as these are much simpler (c-v-c words such as cat, man, leg, pet).
Download a page of c-v-c & rhyming words to use!
Blend & Decode It! game
Kindergartners need as many opportunities to practice their skills as possible and what better way to do so than in a game? All you need is a number cube (I'm sure you have a number cube from some game somewhere in the house!) and a few game markers (even a few different beans will do). Download the Blend & Decode It! gameboard and have fun!
©1999–2011    Sherry

Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify and manipulate sounds. It is a key component in not only learning how to read but also in learning how to write. This is one area that is absolutely critical in Kindergarten and regardless of a child's language skills, practice at home home is essential. The child's caretaker can provide phonemic awareness practice in ANY language; this is the beauty of this particular skill!

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