Many people don’t even know what phonemes are, let alone the importance of phonemic awareness to young minds. The very first stages of language development in young children relies upon the awareness of differences in sounds. As children develop, phonemes combine to make meaningful speech patterns and eventually are teamed with letters to form written words. Essential Skills has developed phonemic awareness activities that can be used online with kindergarten students to help develop their phonemic awareness. In class, there are some other activities and tips to help young students with phonemic skills.
Try this! Kids might call them toys, but we call them manipulatives when we use them to teach. Have students place a manipulative for each phoneme in a picture. Later this can also work with written words. Pictures or words can be on a board for the whole class, or students can practice this skill individually using Essential Skills’ phonemic awareness program.
Phonemic awareness is about the sounds that letters make, therefore it is essential to incorporate auditory practice when teaching phonemic awareness. Having your students go through the pretest for Essential Skills’ Phonemic Awareness can help to quickly identify areas of difficulty and determine if auditory recognition is an issue.
Learning isn’t limited to seeing and hearing. There are lots of tactile and kinesthetic ways to emphasize phonemes. Try clapping, tapping, stomping, even jumping to the sound. If the students learn different movements for each sound, they can dance to words, even their own names!
Word games! There are lots of fun and engaging activities in Essential Skills’ Phonemic Awareness program. A game you can play with your class is “Guess the Word Sound out words one phoneme at a time and the first student that guesses the whole word wins! This is a great game to get to know everyone’s names the first week of school.
Rhyming is another important component when teaching phonemic awareness. There are so many children’s stories and songs that incorporate rhyme because rhyming is so important to beginning reading skills. As kids learn new songs or poems, they can recite them aloud as a fun classroom activity, adding emphasis and even movement to the rhyming sounds. This is also a great activity for acquiring early reading skills, as students highlight or underline the parts of words that make rhyming sounds.
One of the most common and effective ways for children to learn to separate sounds is an activity called bouncing. The first letter or sound of a word is repeated before the whole word is pronounced. For example, “b-b-b”, “big” starts with “b”. This strategy can be used through the day with subject words, items in the environment, and students’ names. Essential Skills offers a wide variety of online phonemic awareness activities to help young children practice phonemes.