Before a child can learn to read, they need to be aware of the sounds (phonemes) that make up words.
Use this fun phonemic awareness activity with playdough balls to help your child physically separate the sounds while doing word building.
Start with basic CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words.
- Say the word aloud, count how many sound you hear.
- Make that many balls with the playdough, place them apart.
- Find the first letter you hear and press into the first ball of playdough.
- Find the next letter you hear etc.
5. Now move the balls with letters closer to each other, starting with the first sound you hear: "c", "a", "t"(Segmenting: breaking words into their individual sounds).
6. Now say the whole word: "cat"(blending all the sounds together).
If your child is ready to learn about diagraphs(two letters make one sound like "ng"), do the same but now there are still three sounds(three balls of dough) with four letters.
Ask your child to change the word "ring" to "bring". He/she should be able to hear the "b" sound that needs to be added in front of "ring".
You could also add phoneme manipulation to the activity by asking your child to change the word "cat" to "cot". He/she should be able to hear the difference and then find the letter that needs to change.
- For younger kids that does not know their letters yet: only do it orally. Do still use the playdough balls idea, but without the cards. For example: say the word, count the sounds, make the playdough balls while sounding it out and move the balls together while saying the word.
- For older kids: move onto trigraphs, and difficult vowel combinations like "dough" where it will only be two balls for the two sounds(despite the 5 letters): "d" and "ough". Tricky words can also be done in the same manner. For example: "special" can be seen as 5 sounds: "s" "p" "e" "cia" "l".
A lovely, tactile way to bring phonemic awareness into a word building activity!
More fun word building ideas:
Nadia is South African mom to two littlies, a former preschool teacher and currently working as a reading therapist at a remedial school. She blogs over at Teach Me Mommy about easy and playful activities inspiring you to be your child's first teacher. Follow along on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.