Phonological awareness is a broad skill that includes identifying and manipulating units of oral language – parts such as words, syllables, and onsets and rhymes. Children who have phonological awareness are able to identify and make oral rhymes, can clap out the number of syllables in a word without using visual support. Here are some key activities for Teachers and speech therapists to help speaking and reading skills blossom.
ACTIVITIES TO HELP DEVELOP PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS SKILLS
The following are examples of phonological awareness activities for children of all ages.
• They are presented in order of easiest to hardest.
• Start with activities targeting awareness at the word
• level, progressing onto syllable and then phoneme levels.
PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS ACTIVITIES AT SINGLE WORD LEVEL.
1. Counting words:-Child to count the number of words in a short sentence or phrase
e.g. ‘how many words can you hear in this sentence?’… ‘someone has been eating my
2. Identifying missing words:-Read a list of 3 – 5 words to the child and then repeat the
list missing out one of the words and ask the child to say which word was missing.
3. Identifying missing words in a phrase:- Read a short phrase to the child and then
repeat it missing out one of the words and ask the child to fill in the missing word.
4. Rearranging words:- Give the child a short phrase which has been mixed up and ask the
child to put the words in the correct order.
e.g. ‘the wolf bad big’
PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS ACTIVITIES AT THE SYLLABLE LEVEL
1. Syllable counting:-Child to identify the number of syllables in a range of everyday words.
This activity can easily be incorporated into reading/spelling activities.
2. Syllable deleting:-Encourage the child to ‘play’ with syllables in words. e.g. can you say
‘upstairs’ without the ‘up’ etc.
3. Syllable adding:-As above, encourages a child’s ability to manipulate syllables. e.g. can you
add ‘room’ to ‘bed’
4. Syllable reversing:-e.g. add ‘board’ to the end of ‘cup’…(boardcup)…what do you think the
word was before we changed it around?…
5. Syllable substituting:-e.g. say ‘upstairs’ now say ‘down’ instead of ‘up’
PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS ACTIVITIES AT THE PHONEME LEVEL
1. Sound Matching(initial):-Read the child a list of 3-4 words and ask the child to identify
which word began with the target sound e.g. ‘which word begins with /b/? hat, dog, ball, cup?
2. Generating words beginning with a target sound:- Child to think of as many words they can
that begin with the target sound.
3. Blending sounds into words:-
• onset – rime…… ‘what do these sounds say when you put them together:
• individual phonemes…… ‘put these sounds together to make a word:
/d/ /o/ /g/
/p/ /i/ /g/
4. Recognising Rhyme:- Read aloud 2 words and ask the child to decide if they rhyme.
5. Rhyming odd one out:– Read the child a list of 4 words, 3 of which rhyme and ask the child
to identify which word does not rhyme.
6. Matching Rhyme:-Child to identify which word out of a group of 3-4 rhymes with the target
e.g. target word = hat…….big/dog/cat/man
7. Producing Rhyme:-Child to produce a word which rhymes with a given target word. e.g.
‘can you think of a word which rhymes with……/dig/’
8. Matching initial sounds and words:- e.g. does ‘dog’ begin with /p/ or /d/
9. Matching final sounds to words:- e.g. does ‘flag’ end with /d/ or /g/
10.Producing initial sounds in words:- e.g. ‘listen to these 2 words and tell me which sound has
disappeared? /gruff/ /ruff/
11.Producing final sounds in words:-e.g listen to these 2 words and tell me which sound has
disappeared? /teeth/ /tee/
12.Segmenting initial sounds in words:-e.g. what is the first sound in /window/
13.Segmenting final sounds in words:-e.g. what is the last sound in /book/
14.Deleting initial sounds in words:-e.g. can you say /fan/ without the /f/
15.Deleting final sounds in words:-e.g. can you say /red/ without the /d/
16.Substituting initial sounds in words:-e.g. can you say /sent/ with a /w/ instead of a /s/
17.Substituting final sounds in words:-e.g. can you say /big/ with a /n/ instead of a /g/
18.Identifying the middle sound in single syllable words:-e.g. ‘what is the middle sound in
19.Identifying all sounds in words:-e.g. can you tell me the sounds you hear in /sheep/ = /sh/
20.Deleting sounds in words:-e.g. can you say the word /grass/ without the /r/ (gas), can you
say the word /star/ without the /s/(tar), can you say the word /man/ without the /m/(an).
explain to the child that the ‘new’ word may not be a real word.
Therapy Network Ltdphonological awareness is a broad skill that includes identifying and manipulating units of oral language – parts such as words, syllables, and onsets and rhymes.
SYLLABLE SEGMENTATION GAMES
1. Syllable Pairs:
(2 or 3 players)
Write polysyllabic(various numbers of syllables) words on cards and cut them up into
syllables. Make the cut up cards into a pack which is placed face down on the table.
Players take turns to choose a syllable card from the pack. When they can make a word
with the cards it is placed face up on the table. When all the cards have been used the
player with the most words is the winner.
2. Syllable Snap
Make a pack of cards of pictures whose names consist of one, two or three syllables.
Shuffle the cards well and deal them all out between the players. Players hold their cards
face down and take turns to turn over one card. If the card has the same number of
syllables as any other card which is face up on the table, the first player to shout ‘snap’
wins the pair. When a player has used up all his/her cards they are out of the game. The
winner is the player who ends up with all of the cards.
3. Syllable Lotto
Make a set of lotto cards each with six or eight different pictures of common objects
whose names have one, two or three syllables. Make a pack of 24 – 36 cards with the
m=numbers 1, 2 or 3. Provide each child with one lotto board and six or eight counters or
blank cards which can be used to cover their pictures. Read the number cards and if a
child has a picture on his/her lotto board with the same number of syllables, s/he can
cover it with a counter or blank card. The winner is the first to cover all the pictures on
their lotto board.
RHYME JUDGEMENT GAMES
1. Rhyming Pairs
make a set of picture cards consisting of at least 12 pairs of objects whose names
rhyme. The cards are then mixed up and placed face down on the table. Players take it
in turns to turn over two pictures at a time. If the two pictures turned over make a
rhyming pair they are removed from the table and the player scores 1 point. If they do
not make a rhyming pair they are replaced face down on the table and the next player
has a turn. The player with the most pairs of rhyming cards at the end wins.
2. Rhyming Snap
Make a pack of cards with pictures of 12 – 16 rhyming pairs. Shuffle the cards and deal
the all out between the players. Players take turns to turn over one of their cards. If
the card rhymes with the previous card turned over the first player to shout ‘snap’
wins the pair. When a player has used up all his.her cards they are out of the game.
The winner is the player who ends up with all of the cards.
3. Odd One Out
Collect a series of small objects or picture cards and present them to the children in
sets of three – a rhyming pair and another. Ask the child to identify the odd one out.
RHYME PRODUCTION GAMES
1. Circle Game:
(6 – 8 players)
Children sit or stand in a circle and a ball or bean bag is passed around the
circle. The adult says a word with a common rhyme and the ball is passed to the
next person who must say a word which rhymes with it. If they fail they loose a
life. When the ball has gone right round the circle the adult chooses a new word.
Players are allowed three lives each.
2. Rhyming Couplets:
(any number of players)
Ask the child to complete the last word of a rhyming couplet,
e.g. I saw a frog It began to rain
It sat on a ……(log) So I went by ……(train)
3. Board Game:
(2 – 4 players)
Any suitable board game can be used for this phonological awareness activity. A pack of cards with pictures are required
plus one dice. A player picks up a card and says the name of the picture and gives
a rhyming word. S/he then throws the dice and moves a counter the relevant
number of spaces along the board. If the player can not give a rhyming word,
s/he does not role the dice and so stays in the same position on the board.
1. I Spy…
(any number of players)
The first player says for example, ‘I spy something you can wear which starts with the
sound /b/. The player who guesses the word (boot) has the next turn.
2. I Went To Market.
A player starts off by saying e.g. ‘I went to market and I bought a book.’ The next player
then repeats the sentence and adds another item beginning with the same sound e.g. ‘I
went to market and I bought a book and a ball.’ play continues until no-one can add another
3. Circle Game.
(6 – 8 players)
Children sit or stand in a circle and a ball or bean bag is passed around the circle. The
adult says a word and the ball is passed to the next person who must say a word which
begins with the same sound. If they fail they loose a life. When the ball has gone right
round the circle the adult chooses a new word. Players are allowed three lives each.
For a look at the research go to https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4450148/ and wordfinding article