Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds—phonemes—in spoken words.

With phonemes, you can:-Isolate, Identify, Segment, Blend, and Manipulate (add, delete, substitute). Full phonological awareness is typically achieved by the end of second grade.
The following is the breakdown of the individual skills generally mastered by grade level

Kindergarten skills:

Isolate and identify beginning, ending, and medial sounds

Match words with similar sounds in each position

Blend and segment VC (vowel consonant- on, if, at) and CVC words (consonant vowel consonant- bug, rat, mop)

First grade skills:

Blend and segment CCVC and CVCC words (words that have a consonant blend – nest, flag) as well as digraphs (ch, th, sh).

Blend and segment CCVCC (grand, plant) and multi-syllabic words

Begin manipulation tasks such as deleting the ending sound and changing the vowel sound

Second grade skills:

Continue to blend and segment multi-syllabic words

Delete sounds within a blend (say flash without the /f/ = lash or say snail without the /n/ = sail)

Reverse the sounds in a word (bus backwards is sub)

Phonemic Awareness Activities

We want students to be able to be flexible with sounds, so blending and segmenting activities are often organized together.   Segmenting sounds is helpful when spelling, while blending sounds helps reading. Both are important skills that must be mastered. HOWEVER, it is acceptable and encouraged to work with the phonological skill first and then add letter to apply to skill to reading and writing. When choosing words to work with, use ones that have basic letter sound matches (ex: don’t use long vowel patterns if you haven’t taught them). For this reason, you may need/want to use some nonsense words to practice. 

It is imperative that you pronounce individual sounds correctly when working with these skills. Many people add the /uh/ to the end of sounds, thus distorting the true sound and confusing kids. Please watch this video to see how sounds should be pronounced to help students.

Here are some sites that have activities to help develop phonemic awareness. Click on the images to visit the sites.

reading treehouse                                          

 fcrr.orgClick on the image for the first FCRR set of activities. Here is the next level up, still from FCRR.


make take teach

This site has tons of activities. This particular link is all about blending and segmenting phonemes.


Phonological awareness web


This site has lots of different activities, but you’ll need to navigate the tabs at the top to get to the different skills.