phonemic awareness · word work

Word Family Pumpkins

Here are two more great Pumpkin stories: Christopher Pumpkin by Sue Hendra & Paul Linnet and Stumpkin by Lucy Ruth Cummins. Both these stories talk about pumpkins that don’t quite fit in, but stand out all the same.

For Words Wednesday we will work on short “a” word families. Word families is a great way to work on sounding out words, for those ready for this skill, but it is also a great way to work on rhyming words. I will explain how you can alter these activities based on what skill your child is ready for at this time.

For the first activity, have your child draw 2-4 pumpkins on the page. Make sure they are big enough to draw inside. Label each pumpkin with an “a” word family (-ab, -ack, -ad, -ag, -am, -an, -ap, -at). Brainstorm with your child words that could fit in that word family. I typically ask the children if they can come up with one on their own, if they can… go from there. If they can’t then I will give an example or two and then see if they get the concept and can move on. For children who are working on this skill strictly as a phonemic awareness skill, they will just draw pictures of the words. For children who are working on reading and writing these CVC, CVCC words, they will illustrate and write the word. Continue to do to the same for each pumpkin on your page.

The second activity is real vs nonsense words. Children love playing with nonsense words. They love to create words that just sound funny. So… why not play with nonsense words with word families. Pick a word family, see list above. Divide a sheet of paper in half, and write real words on one side and nonsense words on the other side. Now work the same concepts. Put different beginning sounds on to the rime and see if the word is real or nonsense. Using magnetic letter or other letter tiles helps with this skill as children often struggle to go through the alphabet to find more words. You can do this totally orally as a phonemic awareness skill or write it on paper as a phonics activity.

phonemic awareness

Key to the Code– phoneme blending

Today for Words Wednesday we are going to work on some phonemic awareness, the understanding of how sounds (phonemes) work in words.

The Scarecrow by Beth Ferry– this is the story of a very unique friendship. A baby crow finds itself cold and lost until a kindly scarecrow helps.

Lets use some of the images in this story to work the Key to the Code game. Provide your child with 5-10 keys, real or ones made of paper.

Tell your child that you are going to tell him/her a word in secret code! The key to unlock the code is to blend the sounds together. For example you would say /b/ /ir/ /d/ and your child will say bird. If your child gets the word correctly with little to no support, they get to take a key. When all the keys are collect, switch roles.

Few tips!

Start by play I-spy style… you can use images from the story– bird (/b/ /ir/ /d/), hat (/h/ /a/ /t/), crow (/c/ /r/ /ow/), hay, (/h/ /ay/). The key to this format is having the visual for your child to refer back … so if you do not want to use the pictures from the story, then pick items around you book, apple, etc…

Choose words with two or three phonemes to begin with, then move onto longer words.

Say the sounds with a distinct break to start. They do not get the word, then say the sounds a bit faster to see if they are able to make the connections.

If your child is doing awesome with this skill… then move onto longer words! You can also transition to having your child write the word as they sound it out to make the phonics connection as well! (remember at this age the goal is to get all the sounds but they might miss some and not know the correct phonics skill yet– they may write cro for crow or brd for bird…. this is fine)

letter work · phonemic awareness · topic · word work

Beginning Sounds and the Five Senses

Recognizing and naming words that begin with specific beginning sounds is a key phonics skill (when done totally orally it is actually a phonemic awareness skill!).

I will share with you how I would do this as a phonics activity as well as a phonemic awareness activity… two for one!

As I have mentioned in the past, phonemic awareness is how sounds work in words orally. So a great place to practice these skills is in the car! For this one you don’t need anything resources other than what you can see around you, or in this case see, hear, taste, touch and smell! Think I spy. I spy with my little eye something that starts with the sound /m/ (mom, mouse, money, movie etc). But, instead of looking for just one thing, see how many you can list. I smell with my nose something that starts with the sound /f/ (flower, fart, fish etc). You can do this with I hear with my little ear. I touch with my little fingers, I taste with my little tongue.

If your child struggles, then give an example and see if that spurs them to think of more. Often children need a word cue to help them think of words that begin with the beginning sound. I hear with my little ear something that starts that same as bird (bells, bongo drum, boys playing).

To make this more of a phonics based activity, lets get out a sheet of paper! Here is a quick classroom tip, when making activities that you want your child to do over and over, put the paper into a sheet protector (or laminate) then have your child use dry erase makers. Now you can do the activity over and over and not use more paper!

Take a sheet of paper, create a circle in the middle to put the beginning sound. Around the outside divide the paper into 5 sections and label them — see, hear, taste, touch, smell. (Now put it into the page protector or laminate if you want)

Have your child pick a sound to work on. Some fun ways to do this is to roll a letter die, pick a letter out of a hat (magnetic letter or letter flash cards), or any other way to pick you can think of!

Have your child write the letter in the circle. Now illustrate words that begin with that sound in each section. Encourage them to sound out the words to match the pictures.

Beginning Sounds and the Five Senses

Looking for more ways to work on beginning sound and the five senses? Check out my kit at Teachers Pay Teachers for a one page chart and a mini book you can make!

phonemic awareness · story · topic

The Forever Tree

As we continue to learn about trees, I wanted to find a story that talked about how what we can give trees and what trees can give us. I could have shared The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, but I figured I did not need to share this as it is such a traditional and well loved story.

Instead, I decided to share The Forever Tree by Donna Lucas and Teressa Surratt. In this story, humans and animals love the tree. A grandpa hung a swing on the tree for his granddaughter and the people and the animals used the the tree in harmony. In the spring the tree did not come back, it was ill. The animals worked with the humans to fix the tree. They created a treehouse for all to use and see. The tree was not the same, but it still was filled with love. — this story is based on a true story that took place in Wisconsin, USA

Take some time to today to appreciate the trees around you. What can you do to help the trees?

Today lets work on a phonemic awareness activity. Phonemic awareness is the understanding of how sounds work in words. It is done without looking at the letters, but focusing on the auditory composition of words.

Today you can teach your child the game “Oddball Out” (or pick a different name if you don’t like that one…) With this game, you will say three words that have something in common.

Start with focusing on beginning sounds such as:

  • clock, man, kite
  • fish, phone, mouse
  • drink, lunch, lady

Once that is mastered, moved onto rimes

  • cat, hat, man
  • book, read, look
  • bill, tap, clap

You then could try out ending sounds:

  • pen, fan, tag
  • rap, rug, tip
  • drum, tank, black

Do not feel like you have to master any or all of these skills in one try. Listening to and recognizing the phonemic differences is a developmental skill. Children who have stronger phonemic awareness become stronger readers… start working with your child on his/her oral understanding of how letter and sounds work… it will pay off!

game · phonemic awareness

Syllables Counting Game

Syllable counting board game

Recognizing and breaking down words into syllables is one of the important phonemic awareness skills that children need to develop in the process of learning to read.

Syllables are the “beats” you hear in words. We typically teach this to students by having them clap as they hear the syllables. For example the word head only has one syllable and the word alligator has 4 al-li-ga-tor.

Today I posted in my Teachers Pay Teachers store a board game to practice this skill. In the kit, you will find: a game board, picture cards and the rules. The children pick a picture card. They say the word that corresponds with the picture, then determine how many syllables in the word. The child then moves forward that many spaces on the board.

This can be used at home as easily as in a classroom setting!

game · phonemic awareness

Phonemic Awareness Thursday- I spy

To continue with our get out into the backyard theme this week, I will show you a few ways to play with words while you are outside. When we play with words, it helps children develop their phonemic awareness skills. These activities are totally oral, so you do not need anything but the ability to speak and hear.

Play I-spy (pick one of these skills to work on at a time. If you mix them up, you will confuse your child. When his/her phonemic skills are strong (ready to read) then you can mix them up a bit more)

I spy something that begins with the sound /g/- grass, green, groundhog (beginning sound practice)

I spy something that ends with the sound /d/- bird, seed (ending sound practice)

I spy something that rhymes with tie- fly, sky (rhyming words)

I spy a /c/ /a/ /t/ (blending phonemes)

I spy a /c/ /at/ (blending onset and rime)

art · phonemic awareness

Phonemic Awareness Thursday- Rhyme Away

This activity is a fun whiteboard activity, but I will tell you a few ways to switch it up at home.

When completing rhyme away, draw a picture on a whiteboard or with chalk on the sidewalk. Tell your child a rhyme that corresponds with items in the picture. Your child will then erase that items in the picture. You could do this a a rhyme and draw if you want your child to complete the drawing instead (just say draw instead of erase).

rhyme away picutre

Here is one I have not done with my class and is easy enough to draw at home.

Just for fun erase the ______ (sun)

Blueberries are tasty but this tree has ___________ (cherries)

Count to three while you erase the rest of the _______ (tree)

You can be proud when you erase the ______ (cloud)

I’ll make it brief please erase the ______ (leaf)

The picture doesn’t have a tower, but it does have a ______ (flower)

You won’t earn a gem by erasing the _____ (stem)

One last pass, go ahead and erase the ______ (grass)

Remember the purpose of this activity is to practice rhyming. By providing the illustration with limited options you are focusing the answers to the options in the illustration.

If your child is struggling to pick out the rhyming pairs, isolate the given rhyming word and see if your child can figure out the rhyme without the extra words. If they still struggle, start saying fun- tree, fun- grass, fun- sun and see if your child can pick up on the rhyming pair. Once your child get a hang of it, go back to the riddles and see if they can do it without the extra support

game · phonemic awareness

Phonemic Awareness Thursday- Rhyming

I have found over the years that rhyming is a lot harder for children to understand than you would expect. I can give you a few theories I have, but remember they are just my thoughts!

First, often times children listen to the first sound of a word and then make assumptions of the word based on context or background knowledge. This is very evident when children begin reading. They will look at the first letter and then just guess a word with that beginning sound.

Also, children are typically better at picking out two words that rhyme than coming up with words on their own. Again… children see/hear words based on the first sound and with rhymes you need to hear the rime of the word not the onset. They also have to have the word sense and vocabulary to pull words out of their memory.

There are lots of ways to play with rhymes and they are all important! When working with rhyme, I usually start with poems, song and stories that have many rhymes. Songs and poems can be memorized and then adapted. This is why children enjoy nursery rhymes and songs such as Down by the Bay by Raffi.

There are many online rhyming games, such as these games on PBS Kids. But you can also make your own rhyming games at home.

Play I spy with rhymes. I spy something that rhymes with head– bed, red. something that rhymes with hair– chair, pear. etc…

Sing head shoulders knees and toes, but put in words that rhyme with the body parts instead

red, boulders, trees and rose

bed, folders, please and grows

skies and years and south and does

bread, holders, sneeze and hose

keys and snows

Make it fun! Play games with rhymes all the time. They will get it… it will click. Have fun

game · phonemic awareness

Phonemic Awareness Thursday– stretching sounds/ The Talking Ghost

Many children struggle with combining sounds they hear out loud, but this is a key skill in sounding them out on their own. Here is another fun way to practice what they need to do to stretch and blend phonemes!

Have your child draw and cut out a ghost!

Practice talking like a ghost first. Hhhhheelllloooo mmmmyyyyy ffffrrrriiiieeennnddd! Remember to just stretch it out the way you say it out loud. Once your child gets good at ghost talk, you can begin a fun game.

This is an I say, you say game. You will say a word with the sounds in isolation (/d/ /o/ /g/) and then your child will say the same word like a ghost ddddoooogggg. Have them move their ghost from left to right as they say the sounds aloud, so the ghost moves with the sounds. After they stretch out the word, have your child say the word fast.

Here’s another example

  • you: /h/ /ou/ /s/
  • child: hhhhhoooouuuuusssssseeeee — HOUSE!

Continue with familiar words. Want to switch it up? you stretch out the word and have your child say the individual phomemes they hear (switch roles)

you: ssssshhhhhiiiiirrrrrrtttttt

child: /sh/ /ir/ /t/ –SHIRT!

game · phonemic awareness

Phonemic Awareness Thursday- name chant

Today’s activity is a blending of onset (first sound in a word) and rime (the remainder of the word).—— If you are saying the sounds and having your child put them together they are working on pre-reading skills. If you provide the word and have your child break it apart they are working on pre-writing skills.

Here is a simple chant to try:

  • It begins with a /w/
  • And ends with /eb/
  • Put it together
  • And they say _____ (your child should say web)

I suggest that you start this with simple CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words. Another way to do this is to pick words your child is familiar with such as names, animals, colors, or other favorite topics.

When your child gets good at hearing the combination, have your child do the chant and see if you can hear the word they are breaking apart.

I feel like I’m pushing the importance of phonemic awareness each Thursday. Phonemic awareness is the understanding how phonemes, the sounds letters make, work in the spoken word. When children are able to manipulate phonemes aloud, without the visual clues, it will aid in their ability to read and write.

When a child begins to read they need to decode the printed words. The start of this is being able to manipulate phonemes. They need to know the sound each letter makes AND be able to put those sounds together in words. Children who develop a strong phonemic awareness already know what it sounds like when you push phonemes together.

When children begin to write the are encoding words. This is the ability to break apart a word into its phonemes and then write them down. Again, when children learn to break apart words orally they are already confident in breaking apart words on their own and then only have to make the connection to the phoneme and the printed letters.