There are many activities that you can use to help your child develop phonemic awareness. Each of these techniques can be incorporated into your teaching system. They can also be used independently throughout the day to encourage your child to be more aware of phonetic sounds. Keep in mind that repeated practice and exposure is important. It is also useful to review previous material.
Strategies for phonemic awareness
The following techniques and activities can help your child improve their phonemic awareness. Many of these strategies can be used throughout the day to help your child become more of the sounds that make up words. Many of these techniques can be used in both an individual and group setting. Some of the games listed below will lend themselves well to a group or classroom setting.
Identify and categorize sounds. Have your child identify different sounds in words such as the first sound, last sound, or a sound you emphasize. You can also have your child try and find similarities and differences between various sounds. For example, help them become aware that the sounds /b/ and /p/ are made with the lips while the sounds /k/ and /g/ are made at the back of the mouth.
Blend sounds to form words. Blending involves combining individual sounds to make a complete word. By practicing blending children become aware of how distinct sounds combine together to form complete words. When using blending you can use both choppy blending (pronouncing each sound distinctly with a short pause between each sound) and smooth blending (stretching out each sound while smoothly transitioning to the next sound). As an exercise you can pronounce the component sounds and have your child combine them together to make a word.
Add sounds to form new words. Start with a simple word, such as “in” then add sounds to create more words, such as “win”, “wind”, “winds”, etc.
Delete sounds to form new words. The reverse of the above can work as well — start with a long word and remove sounds. For example: streams, stream, steam, seam, sea.
Substitute sounds to make new words. Another variation of the above two approaches is to substitute sounds to make new words. For example: ships, hips, hits, pits, etc.
Play the “new word” game. The rules are a combination of the above three techniques. Have your child create new words by adding, removing, or replacing a sound in a word. This game can be played with any number of players. This game can also help improve your child’s reading comprehension.
Practice rhyming words. Help your child become aware of rhyming words. Have them determine which words in a set of words rhyme. Also have them try and come up with rhyming words on their own.
Determine which words in a set of words start with the same sound. Provide a list of words to your child and have them identify which words start with the same sound. This can be simplified by simply providing a pair of words and have your child determine if they start with the same sound or not.
Isolating and saying the first or last sound in a word. Have your child pronounce the first or last sound in a given word. This task can be made more interesting by choosing longer and longer words.
Breaking up or segmenting a word into its separate sounds. Segmenting involves breaking a word into its individual sounds. This is an activity that you can do with your child anywhere and at anytime. Simply take a word and repeat it while stretching out or repeating the individual sounds. This can also be combined with choppy blending, smooth blending, and word repetition. For example, you could say “Let’s play with the d-d-d-awwwww-g-g. D-awwwww-g. Dog.”. You can also give your child a word and have them break it into individual sounds.
Play the “last-sound first-sound” game. This game involves saying a word to your child. Your child has to determine the last sound of the word you say. Once your child identifies this sound they have to say a new word that starts with that sound. It is then your turn to say another word that starts with the sound your child’s word ended with. Continue taking turns. Note that this game can be played with as many people as you want.
Have your child be the teacher. Have your child teach you or one of their toy animals or dolls how to read.
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