Phonological Awareness Activities for Parents

Phonological Awareness Activities - parent friendly activities

Building underlying awareness of how sounds combine to make words will help with reading.  There is an instructional sequence to these skills, but they don’t all have to be mastered before moving on.  Note that when a letter is inside hatch marks (//), it indicates just the letter sound.

Word Segmentation:  Count words in sentences.  Have your student think of a short sentence to describe a recent event.  (“I went to the beach yesterday.”)  Clap the words and count them.  Make the sentence longer and count again.  (“I went to the beach yesterday and it was really windy.”)

Rhyme Recognition and Production:  Play rhyming “I Spy.”  You say “I spy with my little eye something that rhymes with … [grable].”  The student looks around and sees a “table.”  It’s great to do this to pass the time in a new place, like a restaurant, a waiting room, etc.

Syllable Blending and Segmentation:  Count syllables in words.  As you’re unloading groceries clap the syllables in the items.  “How many times did we clap?”  Some new exotic additions to the grocery list may spice this up a little (“arugula!”).  You could vary this by listing just things you like or dislike, or choosing a category of thing (animals, cars) your student is interested in.  

Syllable Deletion:  Using compound words, ask what’s left when you take away a word.  This is the kind of thing that might work on a car ride.  “If you start out with a [starfish, football] and you take away the [star, foot], what’s left?”  Work on first and last parts of the words.

Phoneme Manipulation:  Start with first sounds in words and do something similar to the syllable deletion activity.  “What word is left if I start with [pie] but take away the [/p/ sound]?”  Words like pie, take, chart, cape, etc., all have hidden words in them.

Move on to identifying sounds in words, first sound first, then last sound, then middle sound.  You can do this as a spy game.  Set up a bridge and have animals cross the bridge: The student has to give the first (last, middle) sound as the secret pass-code to have the animal cross.

Phoneme Blending:  Try a Simon Says game.  Warm up with “Simon says touch your [wrist, etc.]  Then play it with the words broken into their sound parts: “Simon says touch your /l/-/e/-/g/.  Touch your /l/-/i/-/p/-/s/.”  Use one-syllable body-part names like toe, heel, foot, knee, thigh, chest, back, ear, etc.

Phoneme Segmentation/Deletion:  Collect or draw pictures of one-syllable things on note cards, and draw 3 boxes under each. (Examples: cat; dog; can; cup; pan; fan. Don’t include consonant blends like “stem,” or “spot.”)

[This is /c/-/a/-/t/.]

Explain that there are three boxes because there are 3 sounds in each word.  There may be fewer boxes than letters, but there are only 3 sounds (like “coat” or “peach”).  Put a marker (or a star or other treat) in each box as you and the student identify the sounds in order.

Variation:  “If I cover up the first sound, what’s left?”  (“What do you have if you take away the /c/ in “cat”?”)

This can develop into removing sounds at the end and eventually into replacing sounds at beginning, end and middle.  (Replacing sounds is harder than deleting, so should be done after.)

Sound/Letter Correspondence:  You might start filling the boxes (above) with the letter that represents the sounds.  If your student knows the letters, so this will develop naturally out of the sound-identification, -deletion, and –substitution activities.

Game/Activity Ideas & Resources:

Sounds Abound Bingo, available online at

Learning Resources Reading Rods Phonemic Awareness Kit, available online at

Get Read for the Code, books A, B, and C (address letters as they are introduced in kindergarten class)

Sounds Abound: Listening, Rhyming, and Reading, activity book available online at

Sounds Wizard game box (not currently available), from