Phonological awareness means you understand that words are made up of smaller parts, like syllables, onset-rime, and phonemes.
Playing with the parts of words can build this critical literacy skill. Here are some ways to introduce phonological awareness—and have some fun!
There is one syllable in ‘dog,’ two in ‘water,’ and three in ‘musical.’ Becoming aware of syllables helps us learn new vocabulary, sound out words, and spell.
Guess my word
Have children practice putting word parts together. Tell them you are going to the “li…brar…y.”
Talk like a robot
Talk… ing… in… a… mon… o… tone… helps… kids… fo… cus… on… syl… la… bles.
You tap my back, I’ll tap yours
Tell children that you are going to tap out the name of someone in the family on their backs. See if they can guess whose name it is.
Clap it out
Have children clap out the beats in their names (three claps for Sa-man-tha, two for Pe-ter). Or jump, karate chop, rubber stamp, or lay out objects (like rocks or raisins) for each beat in a word. Whose name is the longest in the family? The shortest?
Music makes us more aware of syllables: “Hick…or…y Dick…or…y Dock.”
The ability to think about individual sounds in words is one of the strongest indicators of future reading success.
Look for books and songs with alliteration
Saying sentences such as “Sammy snake slithered south” is super for separating single sounds.
What if the whole world started with my sound?
My name, Daddy, starts with the /d/ sound. What if everything started with that sound? Your name would be Doseph! We would be sitting in the ditchen…” …Get the didea?
(Don’t) finish what you start
Having soup for lunch? Tell children, “Today we’re having /s/…” If they can’t figure it out, keep adding one more sound until they get it – /s/…/oo/…/p/.
Songs provide great opportunities to play with speech sounds. Single sounds get repeated (think of David Bowie’s “ch…ch…ch…ch… changes!” or stretched out like Carly Simon’s “anticipaaaaaaaaaation”). So even if you can’t carry a tune, go ahead and break out in song when the spirit moves you!
Knowing that words sound alike and making our own rhymes help us manipulate sounds, learn new words to read, and spell.
“I Spy” with a twist
Play “I Spy” with children by giving a rhyme as a hint: “I spy something that rhymes with _.”
Make up silly terms of endearment for each other!
Read lots of rhyming books!
Songs, poems, and stories that rhyme are easy to memorize and help train little ears in rhythm and rhyme.
Don’t forget the classics! Nursery rhymes, playground chants, lullabyes, and Dr. Seuss books endure because they are so effective. Plus, they link us to our past and to each other.
Most lyrics rhyme. Find songs you and your child love. Make up your own.
“Daddy-addy-badaddy”. “Tessie Tutu. I love you too!” Michael, Michael Motorcycle!”