Most parents feel very comfortable teaching their kids to sing their ABC’s, but a lot of times they don’t know where to begin with teaching their kids to read. So they turn to Google and suddenly phrases like phonemic awareness, phoneme manipulation, segmenting, and CVC words start popping up on their search, and they quickly become overwhelmed. The good news is that once you understand the technical terms, teaching your child to read will be a breeze. This article will define a few popular terms and give you quick, easy activities to do with your child.
Phonemic Awareness: The ability to hear, think about, and manipulate the individual sounds in spoken words. When kids understand that words are comprised of individual sounds, they have phonemic awareness.
Segmenting: breaking up the individual sounds of a word into units
CVC words: words that are made up of a consonant, then vowel, then consonant (e.g., pat)
Phonemic Awareness activities:
• Segment CVC words with your child by touching your head, then knees, then toes for each individual sound. For example, you would say the word hat. Then as you touch your head you would say /h/, touch your knees and say /a/, then touch your toes while saying /t/. Side note: any time you see a letter denoted like /h/ that indicates that you say the letter sound.
• Draw three large circles on the sidewalk, or alternately place three hula hoops on the ground. The circles or hoops should be close enough for the child to jump into consecutively. Say a word out loud then have your child segment the word while hopping into each circle. Example: Say the word sat. Your child will then hop into the first circle and say /s/, hop into the second circle and say /a/, and finally hop into the third circle and say /t/. You may have to model this for them a few times, or help them segment while they hop.
Phoneme Isolation: The ability to identify the individual sounds in a spoken word (e.g., /c/ is the first sound in cat).
Phoneme Manipulation: Adding, removing, and substituting sounds in words (e.g., add /h/ to at to make hat; remove /p/ in pit to make it; substitute /o/ for /a/ in cot to make cat).
Phoneme Isolation & Phoneme Manipulation activity:
• A great time to practice phoneme isolation and manipulation is in the car. While driving you can say a word of your choice and then ask what the first sound is. After they get proficient in identifying the first sound you can move to the ending sound and then the middle sound. The same idea applies to phoneme manipulation. Ask them to add, remove, or substitute various sounds in words that you say.
Rhyming: words that have the same ending sound
• Toss a bean bag or ball back and forth with you child as you rhyme. Word families such as –at, -op, -ug, -ag, and –it are good because they have a lot of words they rhyme with them.
• Clap your hands with your child in patty cake fashion, while you rhyme words.
These quick activities are great to help your child build early literacy skills; all of these word work activities will help your child begin reading in the near future!