December 19, 2013, Edition #1

Take the activity at the bottom of this page by Jan. 3rd and your child will be entered for a chance to win a prize!

Welcome to the first edition of The Reading Roadmap. We are the Community Schools’ coaches, Anne Marie Hines and Marge Edwards. The purpose of The Reading Roadmap is to provide information and activities to increase your awareness of what it takes to raise a strong reader.

The National Reading Panel reviewed research on how children learn to read and identified five essential components that must be taught in order for students to become successful readers. Known as THE BIG FIVE, these components are:

Phonemic Awareness – Phonics – Fluency – Vocabulary – Comprehension

In each edition, we will focus on one of THE BIG FIVE. Our roadmap begins with Phonemic Awareness.


Before we define Phonemic Awareness, you need to know what a phoneme is. A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in a spoken word. For example, the word “it” has two phonemes (sounds), /i/ - /t/.

*Helpful Hint: When you see letters within slanted lines, say the sounds of the letters.

Phonemic Awareness is the ability to pull apart the sounds of word, blend the sounds back together, or change the sounds to make new words.

IMPORTANT FACT:  Phonemic Awareness is one of the strongest predictors of how well children will learn to read.

This edition’s activity will focus on the first part of Phonemic Awareness: pulling apart the sounds of a word (also known as phoneme segmentation). Kindergarten and first grade students are checked on their ability to pull apart the sounds in words using a test called Phoneme Segmentation Fluency.

So… if the word “it” has two sounds (phonemes), how many sounds are there in the word “sit”?
The correct answer is 3, /s/ - /i/ - /t/.

To help pull out each sound of a word, we teach your children to tap the sounds. For the word “mat”, they would tap one finger to thumb for each sound.

Source: Barbara Wilson

*Helpful Hint: When tapping a word with more than 4 sounds, simply go back to the first finger to continue tapping.

Now it’s Your Turn: Complete the activity below.

Be sure to type your child’s full name and grade in the spaces provided.  Also, select your child's school from the drop-down menu. Typing the name and grade will let us know who has completed the activity. Once we see that you have completed the activity, your child will be entered into a drawing to receive a prize.

Say each word as it appears. Pay close attention to the sounds you hear as you say the word. Be careful – the number of sounds in a word can be different from the number of letters in a word. Tap the sounds if it helps.

Type the number of sounds in the space. If you are incorrect, a helpful hint will appear and you can try again. It is okay to do this with your child.