Phonological Awareness Skills and Activities

Phonological Awareness Skills and Activities

Phonological Awareness is a foundational skill for reading, but there are many confusions on what it contains. One FABULOUS blog-  has a great explanation on these skills. Click on the picture to visit her blog and download this graphic.

If this area is new to you, click here to read more information about the various terms, examples of each skills, and ideas for teaching.  It is important for teachers to understand that there is a continuum of difficulty with these skills. This plays a major role in your instruction. If your child cannot segment syllables, asking them to segment the individual sounds in a word is going to be nearly impossible. To help you understand the developmental sequence of these skills, I will place the easiest ones first. My first place to look for ANY phonological skills is  This site has tons of different activities, complete with directions and picture cards, for every skill! Click on the various pictures under each skill to get some great activities to help your students.

pa continuum


Sentence Segmentation

Being able to segment a sentence into words is the most basic part of phonological awareness. Students who are first learning how to write must first learn how to orally compose a sentence from their story.  They must be able to segment their sentence into words in order to be able to write their sentence, even if it is as simple as one letter per word. Here are some ideas and activities that I have used with students to help them achieve this skill.

  • Lily pad jumping- jump on different “lily pads” for each word in the sentence

  • Rolling the ball back and forth for each word

  • Slapping your lap for each word

  • Fingers- putting up 1 finger for each word

Here are some web resources that have more ideas to help your students.

Phonological awareness web


Rhyme: Hearing and Producing

Phonological awareness webreading rockets

Here is a great website that organizes online games related to rhyming.caesars rodney

Producing rhyme is actually much harder than people realize. For some children, it comes so easily, but for a dyslexic child, it is quite the struggle.  Here is a video of how I teach children to be able to produce rhyme. It actually requires them have an understanding of onset and rime. The onset is all the sounds before the vowel, and the rime is all of the sounds including and after the vowel. This can be difficult if your student has difficulty with auditory working memory. To help with this, have the child rehearse (repeat) the rime part 3 times before substituting the new onset.

Alliteration: Hearing and Producing

high scope

speech language development


Syllable Level: Blending, segmenting, deleting

Phonological awareness web  (scroll down to the parts about syllables for activities related to segmenting syllables. Click on the “blending” tab at the top and scroll down again to the syllable section for activities related to blending syllables)

fcrr.orgThis file also has onset-rime level activities discussed below.

Onset Rime Level: Blending and segmenting

This is the phonological foundation to word families. Before you can work with students to understand how to make word families, they have to be able to segment and blend the sound units. I have always used hands to teach onset and rime, just like I modeled with the video on rhyming above. I noticed that children do better to understand the task when I start with obvious words like reindeer and  helicopter. I know that onset and rime is about breaking apart the sounds in a syllable, but using these bigger words seems to help them understand what I’m asking them to do. After you practice with some multi-syllabic words, then I take it to the single syllable level as it truly should be.  Look at the Florida Center of Reading Research link above for some great activities. The Reading Rockets site also has some great ideas.

reading rockets


 Phoneme Level: Isolating, Blending, Segmenting, Manipulating

This subset of skills is the most varied, yet important set of skills. It is called phonemic awareness, and includes working with the individual sounds in a word. Blending phonemes are required for decoding words, and segmenting sounds are required for writing sounds in spelling. Aside from isolating sounds, blending, segmenting, and manipulating phonemes exists on a continuum. That is, a student may be able to segment 3 phoneme words, but not more. So it is important to allow students to practice blending and segmenting at their own pace, yet knowing what their next step is.

Phonemic awareness was identified by the National Reading Panel as one of the 5 major components of reading success.  Click here to examine phonemic awareness in detail.