Phonemic awareness is the ability to blend, manipulate and segment sounds. Contrary to our intuition, playing with sounds is not something inherent to being human. We can rhyme and drop sounds and so forth, because we are literate. In illiterate human societies, people really struggle with segmenting sounds in their native language (Morais, J., 1993). You know cat has 3 sounds and you can say them in order because you’ve learned to read.
Phonemic awareness activities should be simple
Kids need phonemic awareness activities to learn to read. However, phonemic awareness activities should not be complex, nor should they be littered with babbling teacher talk. The teacher is like an orchestra leader, pointing and directing the student to say the sounds in a word. There are a variety of phonemic awareness activities teachers can do. These activities should all be simple. I cringe when I see phonemic activities that are so convoluted that even the student isn’t sure of what do to.
Also, steer clear of phonemic awareness activities that have the teacher say lengthy comments. The more the teacher talks, the less time the student has to practice. Phonics lessons should only be about 35 minutes daily. Some phonics lessons take so, so long, because the guidebook has the teacher say unnecessary, redundant lengthy comments.
Phonemic awareness segmentation activity sample
I’ve attached a video to help guide you through a simple phonemic awareness segmenting activity. Notice how scrappy the materials are! You don’t need to get fancy. However, you can replace the lines with any object, including fake gems, stickers or flowers… just be sure whatever you use has NO TEXT. If you want someone to guide you through the most common English phonics sounds, please check out our step-by-step phonics books. Here’s the video (I couldn’t figure out how to reorient the video, so please excuse the orientation!):