Phonological Awareness Skills

Friday, March 12th, 2021

Children playing with….sounds?!?!

When most of us think about children playing, we usually think about things like blocks, puzzles, and other toys. But it’s also important for young children (and their families) to play with sounds – the sounds in their language. Doing so not only helps children learn how to pronounce these speech sounds but also helps them to become readers as well. Learning to read and write starts long before kindergarten and has long-lasting effects. Learning to play with sounds (also called “Phonological Awareness skills”) is one of the key skills of children ages 0-5 that predict later reading success. A more formal definition of Phonological Awareness is the auditory processing of spoken language (not of written language) and understanding that spoken language can be divided and manipulated into smaller components (sentences, phrases, words, syllables, phoneme clusters; individual phonemes). 

Areas included in the skill of phonological awareness are:

·     Rhyme (discrimination (“Do book and cook rhyme?”) and production (“Tell me a word that rhymes with bee”)

·     Segment (clapping out words in sentences, number of syllables, phonemes)

·     Isolation (tell the beginning/middle/end sounds in a word) and recognizing when words share phonemes (‘ball’ and ‘bat’) (also known as “alliteration”)

·     Deletion of syllables (“Say ‘cowboy’. Now say it again but don’t say ‘boy’”) and phonemes (“Say ‘fox’. Now say it again but don’t say ‘f’”)

·     Blending (“win—dow ” is “window” and “b—oy” is “boy”)

There are many ways to incorporate phonological awareness skills into your daily play with your child. Many nursery rhymes include rhyming words that you can point out to your child as you read as well as words beginning with the same sounds. You can clap out long and short words and talk about them (e.g. “cat” vs. “ballerina”). You can take turns naming as many words as you can think of that begin (or end) with the same sound (ball, baby, book, etc.). You can play “I’m thinking of an animal that barks and begins with the “d” sound. You can play “I’m going on a trip and I’m taking a….” using rhyming words, words beginning with the same sound, only 1 syllable words, etc. Books are a fantastic resource for talking about and pointing out all of these skills. Talk back and forth into a play microphone or wooden spoon or in front of a mirror. You can play these games in the car or while in the bathtub or anywhere! Have fun!

Fun Reading Resources and Ideas:

•       Reading Rockets website

•       Get Ready To Read – www.getreadytoread.org

•       Reading is Fundamental website- www.rif.org

•       Reading Resource website- readingresource.net

•       www.starfall.com 

This post written for you by Lora McConnell, M.S., CCC-SLP of Columbus Speech & Hearing Center

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