Monday, May 19, 2014

Phonemic Awareness: Segmenting Sounds

Phonemic awareness is an important component of literacy.  Many researchers believe it is a major predictor of later reading success. While there are many aspects of phonemic awareness, one of the key things to remember is that it is all oral. This means teachers and families should play lots of word and sound games with children.

Pointing at a letter and saying its name and/or sound is phonics, not phonemic awareness.
We have previously discussed the importance of preschool children being able to rhyme. This is a major and necessary part of phonemic awareness. Books like the Llama, Llama series by Anna Dewdney and Dr. Suess are favorite childhood read-alouds that develop this important skill. Children who are exposed to books like these can make rhyming part of play.

Another necessary part of phonemic awareness is the ability to hear and segment sounds. This is easy to do and can become a favorite game. To “play,” say a simple word with three distinct sounds (called phonemes). For example, you could say, “hop.” There are three sounds – the h sound, the short o sound, and the p sound. Clap your hands when each sound is heard.

Clapping for each sound in h - o - p.
When a child can clearly hear the three sounds in words like dog, tub, hat, pin, and other words, show your child how to use his or her arm to indicate the first, second, and third sound. For example, when saying the word, hat, have your child point to his wrist when saying the h sound. As the short a is said, the child moves his hand to the inside of his elbow. Finally, as the t is said, the child points to his upper arm.
The child says the first sound, h.
The child says the middle sound, short a.
The child says the final sound, t.
These types of visual and kinesthetic experiences develop the ability to segment sounds in words. This will be helpful as children later learn to read.

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