Phonemic Awareness

Estimated reading: 2 minutes

Phonemic awareness is one of the most important skills to develop at a young age. These are the most advanced phonological awareness skills. Phonemic awareness is the understanding that words are broken up into sounds as well as the ability to manipulate those sounds. Interventions for All: Phonological Awareness by Yvette Zgonc is a great resource to have when assessing and teaching phonemic awareness.  We want students to master the following skills:

  • The ability to recognize initial and final sounds in words: What is the first sound in the word bat? (/b/) What is the last sound in the word bat? (/t/) 
  • The ability to blend onset and rime: What is this word: /k/ /at/? (cat)
  • The ability to blend phonemes: /b/ /a/ /t/. What is the word? (bat)
  • The ability to segment phonemes: What sounds do you hear in the word pot? (/p/ /o/ /t/)
  • The ability to delete phonemes: Say trip without /t/. (rip)
  • The ability to add phonemes: Say /it/. Now add /s/ to the front. (sit)
  • The ability to substitute phonemes: replace the first sound in make with /b/. (bake)

These skills start out less complex and move into more complex. Phonemic awareness activities are located in Interventions for All: Phonological Awareness on pages 92-145. 

Try to incorporate a phonemic awareness warm-up in every lesson you teach. Using tokens and sound boxes is a great way to have students begin to manipulate the sounds they hear in words.

Final thoughts: 

If your students are still struggling with phonological awareness, IMSE recommends that you take an IMSE Phonological Awareness course or purchase the book Equipped for Reading Success by David Kilpatrick. This book has daily one-minute drills to help build advanced phonemic awareness skills.