We often think of knowing the names of individual letters as a necessary first step in reading. Did you know that most reading/literacy specialists think phonemic awareness can be just as important, if not more important? That means you should play many sound games with preschoolers. Encourage phonemic awareness with rhyming words. One way to do this is to share silly poems and songs with children.
Read poems like this:
Is a llama an animal you have met?
It has long legs and a neck you can pet.
If people need help, a llama will do
Because this animal will work for you.
Going a long way? It will carry your pack.
A llama walks far with this on its back.
Need a warm coat from llama hair?
Just like a sheep, it is happy to share.
A llama likes grass and carrots to eat.
It chows down plants, but never meat!
A llama is fast when it goes on a run,
And it thinks a swim is a lot of fun.
So look for a llama when you go to the zoo.
It may bat its long eyelashes right at you!
Leave out the italicized words in bold. See if children can get in the rhythm by supplying the, missing word. When you are all done, read the words back:
During the next few days, make up real or silly rhyming words.
Stay tuned for more information about why this is important and more steps in developing phonemic awareness.
Poem by Kathy Hart Smith, Ph.D. Maggie’s Earth Adventures, www.missmaggie.org, Parent company of Maggie’s Big Home