Bethany is a certified Special Education and Elementary teacher with 11 years experience teaching Special Education from grades PK through 5. She has a Bachelor's degree in Special Education, Elementary Education, and English from Gordon College and a Master's degree in Special Education from Salem State University.
Developing phonological awareness is an essential early literacy skill. Phonological awareness is the understanding of the way sounds function in words. Phonological awareness includes the ability to hear and manipulate speech sounds and can be practiced in phoneme segmentation, phoneme blending, syllabication, and rhyme. This all sounds complicated and tedious but, in reality, can be quite fun. Try these activities with your kindergarteners to boost their phonological awareness while having a good time.
Activity: Blending Game
Objective: Blend initial sounds with word endings.
Materials: Paper signs with sounds and word endings, bean bags
- Choose the initial sounds you want to focus on for this activity (single letters or digraphs).
- Make one sign for each letter or digraph. Using regular letter-sized paper, the letter or digraph should fill the page.
- Make a selection of signs containing word endings, such as -at, -ad, -ong, etc.
- Take students to an open space such as the gym or an outside area.
- Line up several students and give each student an initial sound sign. (The number of students in this line depends on the number of initial sounds you have chosen for this activity.)
- Give one of the remaining students a word ending sign.
- Students read the word ending.
- The student with the word ending chooses a student with an initial sound.
- The two students stand together. As a class, sound out the resulting word.
- For example, the student with the ending sign -and chooses the student with the initial sound sign /s/. When they stand together, students sound out ''sand.''
- Repeat with different students blending word endings with different initial sounds.
- Place initial sound signs on the ground in an open area.
- First student takes an ending sign, then throws a bean bag at the initial sounds signs.
- Student looks at the sign where the bean bag lands. Student blends that initial sound with the ending they chose.
- For example, the student picked the ending sign -at. The bean bag lands on /b/. The student sounds out the word ''bat.''
Activity: Syllabication Sack Race
Objective: Break words into syllables.
Materials: Tall sacks (size: a student can stand inside it with both feet and it will reach to their waist) - try extra-long pillow cases, feed sacks, or giant-sized reusable supermarket totes; word cards containing words with a varying number of syllables (two, three, four)
- Take students to an open space such as outside or the gym. Designate a starting line and a finish line.
- Line up three students at the starting line. Each student should stand in a sack.
- Choose a word card at random.
- Student one reads the word and hops forward one time for each syllable in the word. For example, student one reads the word ''electricity'' then hops five times.
- Choose a word card at random for student two, who reads the word and hops forward once for each syllable.
- Continue to alternate words for students one, two, and three until one student reaches the finish line and wins the race. Switch students and repeat the race.
Alternatively, if the sacks are not possible, have students hop forward on one foot for each syllable.
Activity: Segmentation Jars
Objective: Segment words by phonemes.
Materials: Cups of a uniform size, marbles (or other small items of a uniform size such as unit blocks, bingo chips, etc.), word cards (you might use spelling words or vocabulary related to current science, math, or social studies themes)
- This activity can be done in small groups or as a center activity.
- Each student gets a cup and a pile of marbles.
- First student draws a word card and reads the word aloud.
- The student separates the word into phonemes and places one marble in their cup for each phoneme in the word.
- For example, ''man'' is /m/-/a/-/n/, so the student puts three marbles in their cup.
- The next student takes a turn doing the same thing.
- Play continues until one student fills their cup and wins the game.
Activity: Rhyme Hunt
Objective: Find rhyming words.
Materials: Word cards with rhyming matches (dog/frog, cat/hat, etc.), tape
Preparation: Hide one half of each rhyming pair in your classroom and keep a pile of the other half of each pair (i.e. hide ''dog,'' keep ''frog'').
- Give each student one word card.
- Students search the room to find a word card that rhymes with their word card.
- After all students have found their matches, sit in a circle.
- Each student shares their rhyming pair of words.
- Expansion: When a student shares their rhyming pair, they also state a third rhyming word.
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