Posted in instructional videos online, phonemic awareness

Phonemic Awareness Lessons

LRI Phonemic Awareness Curriculum

I searched the internet for a video that used the Phonemic Awareness Curriculum. It is  a systematic, explicit curriculum that offers 15 to 20 minutes of daily instruction on a variety of skills. I used this program this school year, and my students loved it!  I do not know if the teacher is using the same program in this video, but it looks like she might have the same book on her lap and the activities are strikingly similar. If the teacher is using this same program, then this is a shortened lesson because each session takes about fifteen to twenty minutes. Note: there is a phonological awareness activity somewhere in the video.

In the first exercise, the teacher has the students stand up if the first sound of the given words is the same sound. The students also chorally repeat the sound. Students sit down if the spoken words do not begin with the same sound.

In the second exercise, the students use a hand motion to emphasize the final sound of a word. I the third exercise students use their fists to visibly “take away” and “put in” the sounds of a word. For example, the teacher says the word “kick.” Then she gives the direction: take away the /k/ and put in an /l/. The students respond with “lick.”

After a general phonological awareness activity, the teacher has the students segment given words in different ways. One student throws beanbags into rings to represent the three phonemes in the word “shown.” Another student hops on three circles to represent the three phonemes in “couch.” From what I have seen of the program, if the teacher is using the PAC program, the teacher added the beanbag and hopping components to the lesson. I think these are excellent ideas.

These phonemic awareness activities are interactive and it is easy for the teacher to get a sense of student understanding.

Edit: The  teacher is using the Phonemic Awareness Curriculum.


LIPS Program

I was interested in learning more about the LIPS program. I liked the strategy for using a mirror to help students see how they make the sounds. Some have difficulty differentiating between different sounds. I worked with a student who confused the sound for /y/ with /w/ likely because the letter name for “y” begins with the /w/sound. I showed them how the sounds were different and had her practice. I think they would have enjoyed the mirror technique and it would have been more memorable, too. I also liked how the teacher uses visuals to help the students understand how sounds are made.

Silly Names Song

Here is a video of an activity featured and described in Yopp & Yopp’s article. The teacher asks the students to say their names with a certain sound. The result is quite funny! This activity can be repeated to include different sounds. I would be careful to consider what name changes there might be to avoid anything inappropriate. I would also consider the maturity of the learners to have fun with the activity but not to continue using the name changes. Only the person whose name is “changed” will say that name change. Finally, some names will be easier to manipulate than others. Consider the name Skye. Thus, the activity should include vowel sounds as well as consonant sounds.


Posted in phonemic awareness

Phonemic Awareness


In Supporting Phonemic Awareness Development in the Classroom, Hallie and Ruth Yopp discuss the importance and place for phonemic awareness in reading development. I would recommend this article to anyone looking for phonemic awareness activities or interested in learning about phonemic awareness in general. The activities presented in the article are engaging and provide students with contexts for enriched language experiences. I discuss some of the points described in this article, but I also divided this post in sections so that readers may easily skip ahead to the example activities if desired.

Phonemic awareness is not to be confused with phonics or phonological awareness. Phonological awareness can be thought of as an “umbrella” under which phonemic awareness belongs. Phonological awareness may involve activities such as rhyming in addition to phonemic awareness activities. Phonemic awareness is the ability to work with phonemes or individual sounds in spoken words.


According to Every Child Reading: An Action Plan of the Learning First Alliance (1988), phonemic awareness is one of the most important foundational skills in reading development.


The Committee on the Prevention of Reading Difficulties in Young Children recommends that kindergarten students have some phonemic awareness by the end of the school year. According to a position statement from the International Reading Association (IRA), more than eighty percent of children develop phonemic awareness by mid-first grade.


According to Griffith and Olson, phonemic awareness activities will only be helpful if they can be placed in the context of reading and writing. Thus, students are taught letter-sounds with print. If visual representations of letters are used during sound manipulation activities, the phonemic awareness activity is also a phonics activity.

Phonemic awareness tasks vary by difficulty. In general, the easier tasks are taught before the more difficult ones. However, it is not recommended that students master one type of phonemic awareness before learning about another. The difficulty of the task can depend on the number of sounds, how the sounds are formed (continuous sounds are easier than stop or nasal sounds), and whether the sounds are at the beginning, middle, or end of the word. In the end, however, from my education and experience working with learners, I know that blending and segmenting are the most important phonemic awareness skills contributing to reading and spelling development.

Example Activities

“Make a word” Using letters

In this activity, onset-rime concepts are practiced. Students are given the letters of a word family such as “op” and then asked to reach into a bag and find a letter.  Students say the onset and rime and then blend them together. Then, they tell whether the onset and rime make a real word by giving a thumbs up or thumbs down. More than one word family will need to be used to include all children as a whole-class activity.

See another example of an activity in-action here