What is Phonological Awareness?
Phonological awareness refers to the bigger “chunks” or “parts” of language. When we ask students to rhyme, blend small words to make a compound word, break words apart into syllables or onset-rime, we are working at the phonological awareness level. Phonemic awareness is a part of phonological awareness. Phonemic awareness is the ability to recognize and manipulate each sound in a word. Phonological/phonemic awareness focuses on sounds and does not include written letters or words.
In pre-k, phonological awareness focuses on rhyming words (words that sound the same at the end), alliteration (repeated beginning sounds), segmenting sentences (telling how many words in a sentence), and syllables (chunking parts of words). All these skills are practiced orally, without any written letters.
What Does it Look Like?
What skills are included in phonological awareness?
Nursery Rhymes: Sing a nursery rhyme each week with the child. Talk about words that rhyme, describing them as words that sound the same at the end. As the child becomes more familiar with the rhyme, have them complete phrases by saying the rhyming word. Nursery Rhymes
Rhyme Time: Come up with simple riddles or poems and go over them with the child. Next, let the child fill in the rhyming word after you start the riddles or poem (e.g. “The black cat is very ____ (fat)” or “Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a big ____ (fall)”. ) Remember, rhyming words sound the same at the end.
Odd Word Out with Rhyming: Let the child know they will be listening for the “odd word out” in groups of words that rhyme (e.g. man, can, book). Remember, rhyming words sound the same at the end.
Alliteration Awareness: While talking, point out words that have the same beginning sound (e.g., I saw the bird catch a bug. Bird and bug start with the same sound., At the store, we need to buy corn and ketchup. Corn and ketchup start with the same sound.).
Odd Word Out with Alliteration: Let the child know they will be listening for the “odd word out” in groups of words that have the same beginning sound (e.g. man, tree, monkey). Remember, words with the same beginning sound are examples of alliteration.
How many words do you hear?: Say a short sentence. Repeat the sentence with the child. Jump/clap/tap for each word while saying the sentence again. Say how many words are in the sentence. Repeat several times.
Syllable Sorting: Find objects, toys, trinkets in the home and ask the child to sort them by number of syllables in the word. Sorting mats can be made by writing the numerals 1-3 on pieces of paper. Place the objects on the appropriate number. What is a Syllable?
Practice Activities (with Printables)
If you don't have a printer, your child's school will print these for you.
Nursery Rhymes: Recite nursery rhymes. Pause to talk about rhyming words and how they sound the same at the end. Nursery Rhyme Sheet
Rhyming Cards: Use printable rhyming cards for many activities. Rhyming Cards and Activities
Syllable Cards: Use printable picture cards to sort according to the number of syllables in words. Syllable Cards
Sound Board Games: Create your own beginning sound board game. Change the objects or pictures on the game board to focus on specific letter sounds. Game Template
Play to Read: Use a subset of the NC Office of Early Learning Play to Read with a Caregiver resource to focus on phonological awareness. Print 4 slides per page for cards on the go! Play to Read: Phonological Awareness
Grover’s Rhyme Time: This interactive game engages children in rhyming practice.
Syllables: This interactive video demonstrates syllable segmentation. Repeat the activity with other words.
Syllable Count: This resource provides correct syllabification of words typed into the search bar. Some words are harder to segment than others.
Reading Buddies PBS TV Series
The Reading League’s Reading Buddies is an engaging foundational reading television series that cleverly teaches underlying components of skillful word reading such as phonological awareness, letter names/sounds, and blending sounds to decode words.