Phonological Awareness

Phonological Awareness is understanding and being able to manipulate the sounds in a spoken language.  For example, in the English Language there are 44 sounds, or phonemes.  Phonological awareness is the ability to focus on the sounds of a spoken language rather than the print.  This is a skill that develops over time and usually in a sequential order.  First a child must learn to listen to spoken words attentively so that they can hear the various sounds.  When they have learned to listen they will be able to make real or nonsense rhymes to words.  This occurs generally around 3 years.   Soon a child should be able to listen to words to hear the beginning sounds.  This is known as Alliteration.  Once a child has learned to hear beginning phonemes, they should begin to hear the ending sounds as well.

At this point children are ready to begin manipulating language by blending sounds to make words.  /c/ plus /at/ makes cat.  Mice minus /m/ makes ice.  Around this time children are also becoming aware of numbers and learn to count syllables in a word and words in a sentence.  Blogger Sarah from has made an easy to read chart on phonological awareness.

Many children find phonological awareness skills challenging and some adult intervention is needed.  Teachers should purposely help children develop phonological awareness in preschool.  With children beginning to learn to read in Kindergarten, it is imperative that they develop the ability to differentiate the sounds of words,parts of words, and letter sounds or word- decoding will be much more difficult.  Phonological Awareness is said to be a major indicator to a child’s ability to read.  

 Teaching Phonemic awareness works best in small group verses whole group.  Using pictures is very helpful, especially for English learners. When teaching Phonemics it is important to pronounce words accurately and consistently.  Make sure that you are saying just the sound and not adding extra sound to it.  For example, P is a very short /p/ sound with no /uh/ added to the end.  Although you know you are making letter sounds, the children are just hearing the sound of the letter so do not add written letters or symbols, as this then becomes phonics.  With Phonological Awareness you are working on a listening/hearing skill.

Intentional Ways to Promote Phonological Awareness

Sing songs with Rhyming words, learn finger plays, read books/poems with rhyme.

Play  The Name Game.  If your name starts with the sound /f/ go line up.

Play listening Games.,,

Go for a listening walk.

Let children fill in the rhyme when reading familiar stories.

Cut out pictures of rhyming words and sing One of These Things.

 Or Rhyming Words Sound the Same to Loopty Loo. 

Rhyming words sound the same (clap, clap),  Rhyming words sound the same (clap, clap).  Rhyming words sound the same (clap, clap). Rhyming words sound the same.  (Put out a picture of a word and the children match with another picture of a rhyming word.  Frog-dog

Teach tongue twisters like Peter Piper Picked a Pack of Pickled Peppers.  Or Five fat frogs flying fast.

“/K/K/K/K/ what begins with K”?  children help name things.  Kite, Kerry, cookie, cat, kitten, cake, karate.

It begins with /b/ and ends with /all/.  Put it together and it says ball!

Which word is longer?  Butterfly or bird?  Green bean or squash?  Fly or mosquito?

To the tune One of These Things. But do it by pictures that begin or end with the same letter sounds (dog, drum, car, donut/tag, frog, glue, bag).

Make a chart, How Many Syllables Are In Your Name?

Put several pictures on the wall.  Clap out the syllables of one of the pictures.  The children must guess which it is.  (Ti-ger, Bear, Ant-Eat-er)

Give each child a picture of an animal.  Have them tape them to a graph by syllables.

Clap out familiar poems.  (1,2,3,4,5,  I caught a fish alive).

Say a word and encourage the children to make real or nonsense rhymes to go with.  (Cat, bat, jat, fat, mat, zat).

Sing songs that manipulate sounds.,,,,