Research supports the positive effects of early, explicit, systematic instruction in phonemic awareness to increase a child’s attending to sounds. In grades K-2, teachers can make phonemic awareness activities a highly anticipated part of the daily schedule. Phonemic awareness activities should:
- Include enjoyable, enriching activities that provide opportunities for children to engage in language play,
- Provide multi-sensory exposures (10-20 minutes per day) using auditory, visual, and tactile learning modalities,
- Incorporate songs, chants, poetry, and rhymes to support metalinguistic awareness
- Use data to inform instruction
- Vary complexity for different learners
Examples of Classroom Activities to Facilitate Phonemic Awareness
Nars from Mars (Rhyming)
This activity helps to model rhyme generation to students in the classroom. Make a puppet from a sock or paper bag and give the puppet antennae to represent “Nars”. When Nars visits the class from his planet, the students will help him learn the English language. As Nars approaches various objects in the classroom, he will identify them incorrectly by rhyming. For example, when Nars selects a book, he will label it as a “nook,” a pen as a “chen,” a table as a “lable,” and so on. Each time, the students will help him by stating the correct (rhyming) word. Students will look forward to visits from Nars.
Going to Grandma’s (Rhyming)
Have the students sit in a circle on the floor and get ready to pack a basket full of rhymes to take to Grandma’s house. The teacher will start the string of rhymes by saying, “We are going to Grandma’s, and I am packing a ________.” The basket will be passed to the next student, who will say, “We are going to Grandma’s, and I am packing a (word that rhymes with the former word).” As an example, if the teacher said “skirt,” then the next student might add “shirt,” and then “dirt,” and so on. This will leave the students in giggles, and the round will end when no other rhyming words can be generated. The basket can get passed again with a new starter word.
1, 2, 3, 4 Syllables are on the Floor (Syllable Counting)
Place four hula-hoops on the floor and place a number 1, 2, 3, or 4 in each hoop. Place various objects in a box and model the first turn. Take the object and label it (example = elephant). Clap the syllables in the word and place the object in the hoop marked with a 3.
Sort the Sound (Phoneme Categorization)
Using sets of four pictures (or objects) per sound, the teacher will model how to complete the sound sort. If the target ending sound is /t/, the teacher will name each picture and select the three pictures in the set that ends with /t/ while removing the one picture that does not fit. This activity may be done with beginning, medial, or ending sounds.
Sound Boxes (Phoneme Segmenting and Blending)
The teacher will provide students with tokens (cubes, chips, stickers) and a sound box template. The child will listen to a spoken word and move a token to represent each sound. For example, if the teacher dictates the word “step,” the student will move four tokens, one for each individual phoneme /s/-/t/-/e/-/p/.
Stretching or Repeating (Phoneme Deletion and Substitution)
The teacher will dictate a word, in sound or with phoneme cards, while stretching one of the sounds “/s/-/a/-/a/-/a/-/t/” and ask the student to identify the word. The student is then asked to replace the stretched sound /a/-/a/-/a/ with another sound /i/-/i/-/i/ and identify the new word. For phonemes that cannot be stretched, the teacher may repeat the target sound “/h/-/o/-/t/-/t/-/t/.” Once the student identifies the word, the teacher may have him replace the repeated ending sound /t/-/t/-/t/ with /p/-/p/-/p/ and state the new word.
Make a Change (Phoneme Manipulation-Deletion and Substitution)
The teacher will lead the class in a series of phoneme manipulation tasks, which will, in turn, activate the other phonemic awareness tasks. (From Kilpatrick’s book, Equipped for Reading Success)
- Say enter. Now say enter but don’t say ter. Student: en
- Say pin. Now say pin but don’t say /p/. Student: in
- Say smile. Now say smile but don’t say /s/. Student: mile
- Say club. Now say club but don’t say /l/. Student: cub
Be sure to check out the rest of our blog series on How to Teach Phonemic Awareness:
- What Is Phonemic Awareness?
- What Are Phonemes?
- The importance of Phonological Awareness Assessment
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