Phonemic Awareness Activities for the Classroom


So what is phonemic awareness anyway?

         Words are composed of sounds.

         Phonemic Awareness is the BEST predictor of reading success.(Adams, 1991)

         Only 40%-50% of children start school with sufficient phonemic awareness. (Cunningham, Allington, 1995, 2000).

         There is a predictive and causal relationship between phonemic awareness and reading success. Early systematic instruction in Kindergarten and first grade in phonemic awareness should be a priority in reducing reading failure.

         Phonemic Awareness must be explicitly taught. (Brady, Fowler, Stone, & Winbury, 1994).

         Skillful implementation in meaningful contexts.


 Are there any guidelines for phonemic awareness activities?

·        Make the activities fun and exciting.  Play with sounds – don’t drill them.

·        Use phoneme sounds represented by /  / . Do not use letter names during the activities. Reminder: there are three sounds in the word these /th/ /ee/ /z/.

·        Exaggerate the sounds by holding on to them rrrrrrrring. Or use rapid repetitions such as k-k-k-k-ite.

·        Sounds in different positions: initial ( /t/ table) is easiest, next comes final (/l/ fill), with medial position ( /i/ sit) being the hardest.

·        CV patterns (to, no, go) should come before VC patterns (on, it, up). CVC patterns (man, pan, pat) should follow. Making Words Activities (Cunningham, 1992) are great practice.


Let’s look at some activities:


Onset and Rime: (Practice with Common Phonograms or Word Families)

Literature to use for rhyme patterns:

Hop on Pop (Dr. Seuss)

There’s a Wocket in my Pocket (Dr. Seuss)

Sheep in a Jeep (Nancy Shaw)

Literature to use for alliteration:


 AndOtherTerrifically TantalizingTongue Twisters(Obligato)

Practice with Phonograms

Make a Word Family Chart

Phonics Wheels

Introducing Word Families Through Literature (Carson Dellosa)

Easy Lessons for Teaching Word Families (Judy Lynch)

Have children create their own Word family Books.

Making Words Activities with Cunningham tiles. (Fox to Hen) Change bat to cat. Change cat to cap. Change cap to cup.

Rhyming Practice

Rounding up the Rhymes.

Rhyming Pairs: Do these sound the same? (nose-rose) or different (bed-car)?

Odd Word Out: What word doesn’t belong? (weed, bead, pill, seed)?

Rhyming Word Pairs Concentration: Name the pictures on the cards out loud. Find two that rhyme.


Practice with Phoneme Awareness:

Isolated phoneme recognition

Sammy Snake Says-------------./s/


Word/Syllable/Phoneme Counting

How many (words/syllables/sounds) do you hear in this (word/sentence)? Can you clap the sounds? (Use of Elkonen Boxes)


It starts with /m/ and ends with –ight, put them together and you’ve got ------- (might).

What word am I saying /d/ /i//sh/ ? (dish)

Initial phonemes

Is there a /b/ in bat? boy? pig?

What is the first sound that you hear in doll? daisy? donkey?

Final phonemes

Is there a /t/ in cat? hit? hip?

What is the last sound that you hear in hot? hit? pit?

Identification of phoneme positions

Where do you hear the /t/ in cat? (at the beginning, middle or end?)

Phoneme Matching

Do cookie and cup begin with the same sound?

Do cup and map ends with the same sound?

Phoneme Matching

Which one does not belong? cup, rat, cookie

Which one does not belong? hat, fit, cap