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What is Phonological Awareness, Why it Matters, & Phonemic Activities

If you are wondering what is phonoglocial awareness, we can help! In simple terms, phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify and manipulate phonemes in words. This skill is critical for reading success in pre-k, kindergartners, and first grade. In this blog post we will give what is an example of phonological awareness, why it matters at the kindergarten level, plus lots of phonemic activities to work on this crucial skill for early readers. Let’s dive right into what is phonemic awareness! If you are wondering what is phonoglocial awareness, we can help! In simple terms, phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify and manipulate phonemes in words. This skill is critical for reading success in pre-k, kindergartners, and first grade. In this blog post we will give what is an example of phonological awareness, why it matters at the kindergarten level, plus lots of phonemic activities to work on this crucial skill for early readers. Let's dive right into what is phonemic awareness!

What is Phonological Awareness

Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate phonemes. Phonemes are the individual elements of sounds in any language. Reading and understanding word sounds are vital! If we want children to be good readers, we need them to hear and manipulate the sounds that make up words. It is important because studies show that children with a solid phonemic awareness in Kindergarten are more likely to experience reading success later (source).

What is an Example of Phonological Awareness

The English language has 44 phonemes. If you’re interested, you can see a complete list here. An example of phonemes would be the
  • beginning sound “s.”
  • short a
  • ending sound “d.”
These individual sounds come together to make the word “sad.” A learner with well-developed phonemic awareness will isolate and hear each sound and blend them together to read the complete word. Also, some letters have different sounds. Which sound is used depends on where the phoneme is placed in a word. For example, the letter ‘e’ makes one sound in the wordnet and another in the world meet. On the other hand, some letters make a completely different sound when put together in a word. Here are some examples
  • shin fish
  • thin with
  • chin chair
What is Phonological Awareness and Why is it Important

What is Phonemic Awareness

Children can show phonemic awareness in many ways. These include:
  • Being able to name words that all begin with the same sound. For example, net, nap, and nut all start with the n phoneme.
  • Having the ability to hear and name the beginning and ending sounds of simple words. For example, the beginning sound of the word net is /n/ and the ending sound of nut is /t/.”)
  • Understand how to blend the individual sounds in a word read it. For example, “/n/, /a/, /p/ – nap.”)
  • Being able to reverse the process to break a word into each individual sounds
What is an Example of Phonological Awareness

What is Phonological Awareness and Why is it Important

Children’s ability to hear and work with sounds is one of the significant factors determining their readiness to read. All the words in our language are made up of different sounds. The way different sounds combine is what makes each word unique. Having the ability to recognize those different sounds is the first step in a long process. Eventually, children discover that letters (and groups of letters) represent the sounds of spoken language. For example, the words cap, tap, and map all have the same ending sound. However, the different beginning sounds make each one of these words unique. Phonemic awareness must be developed before phonics instruction. It will be tough for your child to succeed in phonics if they cannot connect the sounds and the written letters. Watching your child suddenly make the connection between the sounds and the written word is AMAZING! You suddenly see the light turn on in their brain. It is exciting for everyone and it never gets old. What is Phonemic Awareness in Reading

What is Phonemic Awareness in Reading

Children’s phonological awareness abilities improve as they become more sensitive to smaller and smaller word parts. They slowly learn how to hear and rearrange these sounds to make new words. But it takes time and practice for these skills to emerge. Children begin to recognize the sounds of their language around the age of two. They’ll start to enjoy rhymes and wordplay. With lots of practice and experience, children slowly begin to detect differences between similar and dissimilar sounding words. After that, they start to identify and count syllables within words. Learning to hear the different phonemes in a word is the most challenging part of phonemic awareness. It takes a lot of practice, but it is imperative to take the time to build this skill. Phonemic awareness develops as children improve and build on the previous level. One step naturally leads to the next. Phonological Awareness Skills

Phonological Awareness Skills

It is important to remember that phonemic awareness develops over time. Don’t expect your child to be able to identify all phonemes right away, but do encourage them every step of the way through fun activities. This is the recommended order of activities
  1. Rhyming Activities
  2. Counting, tapping, blending, and dividing a word into syllables
  3. Identifying and matching beginning sounds in words
  4. Identifying and matching final and middle sounds
  5. Blending sounds into words
See this post for more information about each of these stages. It also has a helpful table that gives the approximate age children develop the skills. Developing phonemic awareness skills is important for reading success. Learn what it is, how to teach it, and how to assess your child. We’ve got 50+ free activities to help your Kindergarten child work on their skills. Click through for more details.

Phonemic Awareness Activities

When it comes to phonemic awareness, games are your secret weapon. They encourage children to practice the skills in a fun and engaging way. We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of games and activities that you and your children may enjoy together.

back to school rhyming activity Lion Rhyming Activity rhyming-robot-game

Rhyming Activities

The very best way to introduce rhyming is to read lots and lots of rhyming books. Most of these books appeal to our kid’s sense of humor, so have fun with them. Draw children’s attention to the rhymes in the book. Click here for a great list of books that rhyme.

Help your child learn to recognize syllables with this hands-on syllable counting activity.  Kindergarten, first grade, and 2nd grade students will have fun learning about syllable counting with these free prinable syllable counting cards.  Learning counting syllables will help your child improve his/her reading and spelling skills.  This counting syllables games is great for your beginning or fluent reader in kindergarten, first grade, or 2nd grade. Simply make cards with stickers or print pdf file with syllables printable and you are ready to play and learn. Kids will have fun practicing identifying how many syllables are in words with these super cute, counting syllables. This syllable activities is a perfect additon to your fall theme or anytime you need some practice without a boring counting syllables worksheet. Use this fall activities for kindergarten and first graders. Simply print syllable printables to welcome autumn in September and October. Help your first grader learn about open and closed syllables with this fun, hands-on free printable reading activity. This first grade activity helps students improve reading and spelling skills as they learn to identify open closed syllables. Simply print pdf file with Open and closed syllable sort and have fun reading and learning with your grade 1 student.

Working With Syllables

These activities will help your kids practice working with syllables. The following free worksheet packs all include syllable counting sheets.

Flower Beginning Sounds Activity kite beginning sounds activity  beginning sounds worksheets with do a dot markers  fish beginning sounds games

Beginning Sounds Activities

Here are some great activities for identifying beginning sounds. Looking for more fun and free begining sounds printables? You will love these engaging activities that help kids work on phonemic awareness

This cvc words activity is a fun way for kindergarten, pre-k, and first grade students to work on cvc ending sounds. These self-checking, final sound clip cards encourage children to work independently while practicing 36 CVC words! Simply print pdf file with ending sounds printable and you are ready to play and learn as you improve reading and spelling skills.  Young readers will love playing this simple game that practices ending digraphs. In this digraphs for kids activity we are targeting words ending with CH, CK, SH, and TH. This phonics game is the perfect activity for children just starting to read in kindergarten and first grade to learn what are digraphs! Simply print digraph activity and you are ready to play and learn!  

Ending and Middle Sounds Activities

These phonemic awareness activities will help your kids practice identifying middle and final sounds.

Vowel Puzzles FREE Missing Vowels Clip Cards - Help kids fill in the missing letters and practice phonics with Missing Vowels Clip Cards - a fun, hands-on learning activity for prek & kindergartners.

Vowels Printables

CVC Middle Sounds Clip Cards CVC word Puzzles free printable FREE Crack the Code Printables - CVC Words Make reading and spelling fun with these free printable Crack the Code Printables where pre k, kindergarten, and grade 1 students will practice listening for beginning sounds to solve the case!

FREE CVC Words Printables

Make practicing digraphs fun with this super cute, free printable Digraph Bingo. This Digraph game is a fun bingo game perfect for helping elementayr age students in first grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, and 4th grade practicing learning digraphs with a fun twist!  Simply print the phonics game pdf file with the and you are ready to play and learn with a digraph activity!   digraph board game for working on sh, ch, th words ice cream digraph game for summer learning Teach digraphs for kids with these super cute, free printable digraph puzzles. This digraph activity is perfect for kindergarten, first grade, and 2nd grade students who are working on reading and spelling more complex words. This phonics activity allows students to work on ph, th, ch, gu, wh, and sh digraphs. Simply print pdf file with digraph printables to use in color or in black and white.

Digraph and Blends

As children progress in phonics they work on digraphs and blends. Digraphs are two consonants that make one sound such as /TH/ sys thumb. Consonant blends have two constonants that each still make their own sound such as . If you are looking for more blends for kids games, worksheets, and activities? Check out these resoures or see all our digraph activities or consonant activities.

Trigraph Reader Help your first grader improve reading and spelling with these super cute, free printable trigraph worksheets. These cut and paste worksheets for first grade and 2nd grade students help children work on the trigraphs spr, spl, str with this fun cut and paste and activity.  trigraph activity playdough mats Make learning trigraphs fun with these free trigraph worksheets that students will complete with bingo daubers! Your first grade and 2nd grade students will have fun completing these phonics worksheets to improve reading and spelling using these do a dot printables to work on trigraphs scr, shr, and squ. 

Mastered digraphs? Move on to trigraphs for kids! These words are 3 constonants that make one sound such at

FREE TH Worksheets - kids will have fun leanring to read th words in a sentece with this FREE printable for kindergarten, first grade students #thwords #firstgrade #kindergarten Are you looking for a fun way for your first grader to practice Ending Blends? This fun phonics game is a great way to help improve skills to become better readers and spellers. This FREE printable s blends activity is a fun way to help teaching children to read. Simply print the pdf file, read the words, and clip the answer.

Consonant blends activities

Other Literacy Activities you may enjoy: Developing phonemic awareness skills is important for reading success. Learn what it is, how to teach it, and how to assess your child. We’ve got 50+ free activities to help your Kindergarten child work on their skills. Click through for more details.

What Does the Lack of Phonemic Awareness Look Like?

Children who have not fully developed their phonemic awareness skills struggle to do certain things. They
  • Cannot sort words that sound similar from words that sound different. They will not be able to separate the word sun from cap and cut.
  • Struggle to break words into separate syllables
  • Are unable to blend sounds to decode a word.
  • Find it hard to identify and isolate the individual sounds in words.
  • Cannot detect and changes sounds to make different words. For example, change the c in cap to m (map) or t (tap).
Homeschooling Tip: It is common for children with dyslexia to have difficulty with all of these skills. They will continue to struggle, no matter how much practice they get. If this describes your child, try to get them tested as soon as possible. A diagnosis can make a huge difference.

How Do You Assess Phonemic Awareness?

There are a whole set of assessment tests available to teachers. If you are interested, you can find a list here. However, most homeschoolers can conduct an informal assessment of their own using questions. You can find a list of questions here. Phonemic Awareness Activities

Final Thoughts

Phonemic awareness is a critical foundational skill for children at the kindergarten level. In this article, you learned about phonemic awareness and why it matters. We also touched on informal assessments. You can help your child develop those skills through a variety of games and activities. We’ve given you a great list of those, so bookmark this page or pin the post, so you can come back to it often. If you have found this article helpful, please consider sharing it with fellow homeschooling families. We would really appreciate your help.

About the author

Sharon

Sharon is the proud mom of three grown boys, a trained educator, and former children librarian. She draws on her years of experience as a parent and teacher to help parents to make the most of the time they have with their kids. You find her posts on rediscoveredfamiles.com

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