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Fun Ways to Develop Phonological Awareness

What Is Phonological Awareness?

It’s a big term, but it’s really quite basic: phonological awareness is the ability to hear and identify the various sounds in spoken words.

Kids who have strong phonological awareness can do things like rhyme, count syllables, and blend sounds into words. And most important of all, kids with strong phonological awareness learn to read much more easily, making their first attempts at reading more successful. This early advantage sticks with kids as they continue through their school career.

Phonological awareness is so incredibly important that it is one of the Big Five Skills for pre-readers, and it’s one of the first things I work on with children before teaching them to read.

How Phonological Awareness Develops

Kids don’t just pop out of the womb ready to run (although with some kids it may feel that way!). Instead, babies learn to stretch their little limbs, turn over onto their bellies, crawl, and walk–and then, eventually, they are off and running.

In the same way, phonological awareness develops gradually over time. Kids start with the easiest skills–like understanding that spoken language contains words–and then move on to skills like rhyming. Eventually they develop more advanced skills like manipulating sounds and are able to play word games like “Go Find It.”

Quick Check for Phonological Awareness

Here are six skills that indicate that your child is phonologically aware.

Print awareness blue check mark

Your child is able to rhyme. If you say the word bat, your child can respond with words that rhyme like hat, sat, mat, or flat.

Print awareness green check mark

Your child understands word boundaries. If you say the sentence Don’t let the cat out, your child is able to separate the sentence into five individual words.

Print awareness yellow check mark

Your child can clap syllables. If you say dog, your child knows to clap once. If you say umbrella, your child knows to clap three times.

Print awareness blue check mark

Your child can blend sounds to make a word. If you say the sounds sh…eep, your child can respond and say the word sheep.

Print awareness green check mark

Your child can identify the beginning sound in a word. If you ask your child to say the first sound in pig, your child is able to respond with the sound /p/.

Print awareness yellow check mark

Your child can identify the ending sound in a word. If you ask your child to say the last sound in the word jam, your child is able to respond with the sound /m/.

Of course there are more advanced phonological skills, such as segmenting and sound manipulation, but the skills above are the important ones to have before beginning reading instruction.

Phonological Awareness Quick Guide Download

6 Fun Ways to Develop Phonological Awareness!

If your child hasn’t yet acquired the skills on the checklist above, you can help her develop them through informal activities such as listening to great books and playing oral language games. Here are a few ideas for you!

Go Find It

Play “Go Find It” with your child.

This engaging phonological awareness activity is a great way to help your child learn to identify the beginning sound in a spoken word.

Rhyming Picture Books library list

Read lots of great rhyming picture books!

Head to your local library with my free Rhyming Picture Books Library List and read a few of my favorites with your preschooler.

All About Reading Pre-reading program

Discover five ways to teach rhyming to your preschooler.

In addition to finding lots of great teaching tips, you can also download three sample rhyming lessons from the All About Reading Pre-reading program.

Help the monkeys count syllables in this fun game

Play “Help the Monkeys” to help your child learn how to count syllables.

And visit Fun Ways to Count Syllables to read a blog post loaded with hands-on tips for teaching children this critical reading skill.

List of great nursery rhyme picture books

Share lots of nursery rhymes with your child.

My free downloadable Nursery Rhymes Library List is the perfect resource! Just head to the library and check out a few of my favorites.

downloadable phonemic awareness game

Download our free “Dinner Time” game.

In addition to helping kids practice sound substitution and rhyming, this fun game will provide lots of giggles for kids and parents alike!

The majority of a young child’s day should be filled with play, real-life activities, and physical exploration. Add in just a touch of daily intentional instruction in the five reading readiness areas (including phonological awareness), and your child will have a huge advantage when it comes time to read.

Phonological Awareness Is One of the Big Five Skills

Phonological awareness is one of the five critical skills for reading readiness that we call the “Big Five Skills.” The other four skills are:

If you’re ready to tackle the rest of the Big Five Skills, be sure to check out the All About Reading Pre-reading program. Your student will enjoy special games, crafts, and story time read-alouds, and you will love the way your student effortlessly learns essential pre-reading skills.

All About Reading Pre-reading

Do you have any questions about print awareness? Post in the comments below!

phonological awareness pinterest graphic
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Kristin

says:

Thank you so much! I have just begun the dyslexia journey with my 9 year old son. This information helps so much!

Merry

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Kristin. Please let us know if you have questions or if we can help in any way as you work with your son. If you haven’t seen it already, check out our Dyslexia Resources page.

AW

says:

My cousin contacted me about her kindergarten aged daughter whose teacher said she wasn’t learning to read well and had trouble rhyming. I told her to read more rhyming books with her daily. I also told her to play fun rhyming games with her in the car. Wish I had this post to share with her when she contacted me.

Tim Matthews

says:

Hi Marie

Loving the series. A question for you on pre-reading and teenagers. I’m interested as to whether you have ever been asked to think about remedial reading and pre reading for teenagers. Fun as these activities are for younger children, I’m not sure the 13 and 14 year olds I’m trying to reach for phonological awareness would be into them. Any ideas?

Regards

Tim

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Tim,

Are the students you are working with reading at all yet? Most older students who need to work on reading are able to start higher in our program, but let me know more about your students and their needs–email me at support@allaboutlearningpress.com

Karen

says:

Love it! So easy to do without it being “school”.

MALyssa

says:

Love All About Reading! My son shows some signs of dyslexia and was really frustrated with the whole word approach that worked so well for his older sister but he is reading now! Very first day of level 1 he was reading and loving it. So happy to have found AAR!

Merry

says: Customer Service

That’s wonderful, Malyssa! So happy for you and your son!

Cari Lockwood

says:

So excited to try these things with my littlest one! I like the idea of doing some fun activities that will just feel like play to him… with the added bonus of working toward reading!

Joy Lockwood

says:

I have a prereader in the house so this is great!

Michelle McGrath

says:

Super helpful! Thank you! Wish I had a known this when my daughter was in preschool.

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Michelle,

I know what you mean–my oldest especially would have benefitted from these types of activities! Pre-reading would have been great for him.

Julie

says:

Thanks! The Ziggy kitchen activity book has some great ideas my little guy is going to enjoy!

Amy Wheeler

says:

Can’t wait to try this.

Anna Tester

says:

Thank you for the wonderful resources! I look forward to using them with my two youngest.

Malu Knowles

says:

Great downloads! Can’t wait to try them out with my 3 year old. One of her favorite things to do is sit with a book in her lap and “read” stories she knows. But the stories she “reads” are from other books we’ve read to her. Funny!!

Merry

says: Customer Service

That’s so cute, Malu!

Emily Meyer

says:

Love these ideas and resources!

Shannon

says:

I love all these ways to be more intentional about developing pre-reading skills with my toddler!

Rebecca

says:

I’m commenting to win the gift card

Meagan

says:

I’m using your spelling program with my oldest and we are loving it! I wish I had taught him to read using All About Reading because as he has progressed I’ve discovered a lot of gaps. But I plan on starting that next year with my youngest!

Tricia

says:

This is our second year using AAR & AAS with three of our children. It’s wonderful. Customer service has gone above & beyond each time we have called with a question or request. Thank you.

Merry

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Tricia :-)

Lindsey

says:

My son is loving the phonological awareness activities with Ziggy from Pre-reading.

Andrea Smith

says:

Thanks for the library list for nursery rhymes, great compilation.

Amber

says:

I love reading a book called “Nanny’s Nursery Rhymes” to my preschooler!

Stephanie

says:

Great practical ideas. Thank you.

Elizabeth

says:

After 3 other phonics/ reading programs, I switched to All about Reading . I never thought my son would become such a great reader! He enjoyed the stories in the readers. I can’t recommend this program enough !

Merry

says: Customer Service

That’s wonderful, Elizabeth!

Amanda Ritter

says:

Thanks for the game downloads!

Sara

says:

Phonological Awareness is so important. As a former teacher (before homeschooling) my inner city students had a hard time learning some of these basic reading skills.

Kristin

says:

This came at such a great time! I was just starting to think about preschool prereading practice with my middle 2 kids!

Callie

says:

We’re just finishing with the pre-reading program and I really enjoyed my children’s enthusiasm for each lesson! I started so intimated and appreciated how each lesson approached reading readiness in a simple and fun way where I could see the progress of my kids!

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Callie,

I’m so glad that Pre-reading was helpful for you and your children! Enjoy AAR 1!

Cynthia Hochstetler

says:

My son struggles with Dyslexia and I am excited to try All About Reading with him. We used All About Spelling last year and it was very helpful for him.

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Cynthia,

That’s great that All About Spelling helped your son. Please let us know if you ever have any questions–we’d be glad to help. If you haven’t already, check out our Dyslexia Resources page.

Becki P

says:

I don’t have any questions, but we didn’t start at the PreReading with my oldest…my youngest is now ready to get started and we have begun with prereading. I really appreciate this method and how well it works. Thank you!

Mercy

says:

Thanks a lot. I will use some of the tips with my pre schoolers.

Jennifer

says:

I’m going to try some of these activities with my preschooler.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jennifer,
Please let us know how your preschooler enjoys this.

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