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Reading 101 is a collaboration with the Center for Effective Reading Instruction and The International Dyslexia Association.

Phonological and Phonemic Awareness: In Practice

Phonological and Phonemic Awareness: In Practice

These activities will work effectively for most students, but children will vary in their response to these activities. Some students will need much more practice than others, and what works well for most students will not necessarily be effective for everyone.

Language comprehension activities

Counting words in a sentence

Counting the words in a sentence may seem simple. But when we speak, we run words together. It’s important for young children to learn that the stream of speech is composed of  individual words. For children with low language skills or children learning English, this activity is especially crucial. It is perfectly fine to take sentences from a story. The language should be close to common speech.

Steps:

  1. Give each child a manipulative or manipulatives with which to count the words in a sentence.
  2. Dictate a sentence. The sentences should be articulated clearly but not in a halting, artificial manner. The words should run together as in natural speech.
  • Avoid dictating haltingly: “Mom [pause] went [pause] to [pause] the [pause] store.”
  • Be careful when dictating phrases such as ‘going to’, ‘would have’, ‘used to’ to pronounce two words. Avoid saying, ‘gonna’, ‘woulda’, ‘useta’, and so on.
  1. All students repeat the sentence.
  2. One student uses the manipulatives to count the words.
  3. All students use the manipulatives to count the words in the same sentence.

Repeat these steps with as many as 10 sentences.

Following these steps, students have individual turns and group practice to ensure the maximum amount of practice in a brief activity.

One manipulative that has been used is a paper bunny cut out and attached to a wooden stick. Students ‘hop the bunny’ for each word in the sentence. Other manipulatives are bingo chips or bottle caps which are counted out for each word.

Sentences should start at two to five words in length, then should get a little longer, but generally should not exceed eight words.

 

Phonological awareness activities

Counting syllables

Counting syllables requires the student to know what a syllable is. Introduce the vocabulary word: syllable. Syllables can be explained to children in this manner:

“Words are made up of syllables. Some words have 1 syllable. Some words have lots of syllables. Our mouth knows where the syllables are. Let’s use our mouth to feel syllables. Watch me. I will use something called clamped lips to feel syllables. I will close my lips tightly and shout the word ‘classroom’.”

Close your lips tightly and shout ‘classroom’. Students will hear two muffled shouts.

“I heard two shouts. I felt two pushes of air. I wanted to open my mouth 2 times. That means ‘classroom’ has two syllables. I hold up two fingers to show how many syllables are in ‘classroom’. Do it with me.” Then lead the group through two examples.  

Steps:

  1. The teacher dictates words in a natural manner.
  • Avoid dictating haltingly: “mon [pause] ster”
  • Dictate words as they are said, not as they are spelled. For example, say ‘DOC-ter’ not ‘doct-OR’. 
  1. All students repeat the word.
  2. All students shout the word with clamped lips.
  3. All students show how many syllables using their fingers.

Repeat these steps with as many as 15 words. Early lessons should include words with one and two syllables. Then include words with three syllables. When students are proficient, introduce some challenge words with four or more syllables. Remember to include one, two, and three syllable words as well.

After some practice, take away the scaffold of using clamped lips:

Steps:

  1. The teacher dictates words in a natural manner.
  2. All students repeat the word.
  3. All students show how many syllables using their fingers.

 

Segmenting syllables

Segmenting syllables is easily taught after students can use clamped lips to count syllables. It is best to restrict this activity to words with three or fewer syllables.

“I can say a word, then say each syllable in the word. As I say each syllable, I will lay down a card. I will lay the cards left to right. Watch me. I say the whole word: ‘Peanut’. I say each syllable and put down a card: ‘pea’ [place a card] ‘nut’ [place a card so it appears left-to-right for students]. Now I sweep my finger below the cards and say the whole word: ‘peanut’ [sweep finger below the cards left-to-right]. Do it with me.”  The teacher then leads the group through two examples.

Steps:

  1. The teacher dictates words in a natural manner.
  2. All students repeat the word.
  3. One student uses the manipulatives to segment the syllables.
  4. All students use the manipulatives to segment the syllables.

Repeat these steps with 10 to 15 words. Early lessons should include words with one and two syllables. Then include words with three syllables.

Following these steps, students have individual turns and group practice to ensure the maximum amount of practice in a brief activity.

Manipulatives can be cards, felts, bingo chips, bottle caps, or other objects.

 

Identifying first, last, middle syllables

Identifying syllables requires the student to segment the word, then say just the target syllable. It is best to restrict this activity to words with three or fewer syllables. First, middle, and last are sufficient for this task. When students move to print, the student can carry this skill into sounding out longer words for spelling and reading.

“I can say each syllable in the word. Then I can say just the first syllable. As I say each syllable, I will lay down a card. Watch me. I say the whole word: ‘sunset’. I say each syllable and put down a card: ‘sun’ [place a card] ‘set’ [place a card so it appears left-to-right for students]. I say the whole word: ‘sunset’ [sweep finger below the cards left-to-right]. I touch and say just the first syllable: ‘sun’ [touch the first card]. Do it with me.”  The teacher then leads the group through two examples.

Steps:

  1. The teacher dictates words in a natural manner.
  2. All students repeat the word.
  3. One student uses the manipulatives to segment the syllables.
  • Introduce this by saying, “One student will be our voice, everyone else will segment the syllables silently.”
  • [Name], segment [word].
  1. All students (silently) use the manipulatives to segment the syllables.
  2. A different student identifies just the first syllable.
  3. Everyone, what is the first syllable?
  4. All students touch and say the first syllable.

Repeat these steps with as many as 15 words. Start with one and two syllable words. Start with just identifying the first syllable. Introduce identifying the last syllable. Combine identifying the first and last syllable with one, two and three syllable words. Add three syllable words. Introduce identifying the middle syllable.

Following these steps, students have individual turns and group practice to ensure the maximum amount of practice in a brief activity.

 

Blending syllables

Blending syllables should be  taught after students can segment. It is best to restrict this activity to words with three or fewer syllables.

“I can say each syllable in a word and then I can blend the syllables to say the word. As I say each syllable, I will lay down a card. I will lay the cards left to right. Watch me. I say each syllable and put down a card: ‘lap’ [place a card] ‘top’ [place a card so it appears left-to-right for students]. Now I sweep my finger below the cards and say the whole word: ‘laptop’ [sweep finger below the cards left-to-right]. Do it with me.”  The teacher then leads the group through two examples.

Steps:

  1. The teacher dictates syllables.
  2. All students repeat the syllables and place the cards.
  3. One student blends the syllables.
  4. All students blend the syllables.

Repeat these steps with as many as 15 words. Early lessons should include words with one and two syllables. Then include words with three syllables.

Following these steps, students have individual turns and group practice to ensure the maximum amount of practice in a brief activity.

 

Manipulating syllables (adding, deleting, substituting)

Adding

Manipulating syllables should generally be taught in this sequence: add, delete, substitute. Adding syllables is very similar to blending syllables. Students already know what to do with the cards. As such, it is the easiest manipulation.

“I can add syllables to make a new word. Watch me. I say the first syllable and put down a card: ‘lap’ [place a card]. I add the last syllable: ‘top’ [place a card so it appears left-to-right for students]. I touch and say the syllables: ‘lap’, ‘top’, ‘laptop’ [sweep finger below the cards left-to-right]. Do it with me.” The teacher then leads the group through two examples.

Steps:

  1. The teacher dictates the first syllable and places a card.
  2. All students repeat the syllable and place a card.
  3. The teacher dictates the second syllable and places a card.
  4. All students repeat the syllable and place a card.
  5. All students touch and say, then blend the syllables to say the word.

Repeat these steps with as many as 15 two-syllable words.

Deleting

“Watch me take away a syllable from a word. The word is: ‘pencil’. ‘Pen’ ‘cil’ [place a card for each syllable so it appears left-to-right for students]. ‘Pencil’ [sweep finger below the syllables and say the word]. I take away ‘cil’ [remove the card]. ‘Pen’ is left [touch remaining card]. Do it with me.”; The teacher then leads the group through two examples.

Steps:

  1. The teacher dictates the word and places the cards.
  2. All students repeat the word and place the cards.
  3. All students touch and say, then blend the syllables to say the word.
  4. The teacher dictates syllable to remove, alternating between first and last.
  5. All students touch and say the remaining syllable.

Repeat these steps with as many as 15 two-syllable words.

Substituting

“I can change one syllable in a word to form a new word. Watch me. I will change ‘suntan’ to ‘sunset’. Which syllable is different in ‘suntan’ and ‘sunset’? I will use the cards. The first word is ‘suntan’ [say syllables, lay cards, touch and say syllables, blend word]. I want to change ‘suntan’ to ‘sunset’. [Touch below the cards, say new syllables, blend new word]. The second syllable is different. I’ll change the cards to and say the new syllable: [pick up second card and say ‘tan’, lay down new card and say ‘set’]. I’ll touch and say the new word: [say syllables, lay cards, touch and say syllables, blend word].

Steps:

  1. The teacher dictates old word to new word.
  2. All students repeat old word to new word, and lay cards for each syllable.
  3. All students touch and say, then blend the old word.
  4. The teacher repeats the new word.
  5. Below the cards, all students touch and say, then blend the new word.
  6. Teacher asks: syllable going out?
  7. All students touch and say the syllable, removing the card.
  8. Teacher asks: syllable going in?
  9. All students touch and say the syllable, adding a card.
  10. All students touch and say, then blend the new word.

Repeat these steps with as many as 15 words.

 

Blending onset and rime

An onset is the initial consonant or consonant cluster of a one-syllable word. A rime is the vowel and any consonants that follow the onset. So in the word “map,” /m/ is the onset and /ap/ is the rime.

Unlike with syllables, we do not need to teach the vocabulary terms of onset-rime. This skill is a scaffold to phonemic awareness skills, and not one with enduring usefulness. Blending onset-rime is more easily taught after students can blend syllables. Use only words with a single onset sound. Blends can be taught in phonics instruction.

The teacher is modeling facing students. She works right-to-left so it appears left-to-right for students.

“I can blend two parts of a syllable to make a word. Watch me. /M/ [teacher puts right fist on the table], /ap/ [teacher puts left fist on table], ‘map’ [teacher slides her fists together to touch in front of her]. Do it with me.” The teacher then leads the group through two examples.

Steps:

  1. The teacher dictates onset [pause] rime, using fists to represent onset and rime.
  2. All students repeat the sounds and use their fists to represent the sounds.
  3. One student blends the onset and rime to say the word.
  4. All students blend the onset and rime to say the word.

Repeat these steps with as many as 10 words. Remember to use words with only one onset sound. For example, use /ch/ /in/ but avoid /sw/ /im/.

Following these steps, students have individual turns and group practice to ensure the maximum amount of practice in a brief activity.

 

Onset-rime completion

As with all onset-rime activities, use only words with a single onset sound.

The teacher is modeling facing students. She works right-to-left so it appears left-to-right for students.

“I will say a word and give you the first part. Then you say the last part. Watch me. The word is ‘tape’. The first part is /t/ [teacher puts right fist on the table]. What’s the rest of the word? /Ape/ [teacher puts left fist on table]. The word is ‘tape’ [teacher slides her fists together to touch in front of her]. Do it with me.”; The teacher then leads the group through two examples.

Steps:

  1. The teacher dictates onset, using a fist to represent the onset sound.
  2. All students repeat the onset sound and put a fist down.
  3. One student adds the rime and puts the right fist down, then blends the onset and rime to say the word.
  4. All students blend the onset and rime to say the word.

Repeat these steps with as many as 10 words.

Following these steps, students have individual turns and group practice to ensure the maximum amount of practice in a brief activity.

 

Do these words rhyme?

For students to learn whether words rhyme, and to generate rhyming words, they must understand what rhyming is. Introduce the vocabulary word: rhyme. Rhyming can be explained to children in this manner:

The teacher is modeling facing students. She works right-to-left so it appears left-to-right for students.

“Words rhyme when they end with the same sounds. For example, I can check to see whether ‘make’ and ‘take’ rhyme. Watch me. I blend two parts of each word. /M/ [teacher puts right fist on the table], /ake/ [teacher puts left fist on table], ‘make’ [teacher slides her fists together to touch in front of her]. /T/ [teacher puts right fist on the table], /ake/ [teacher puts left fist on table], ‘take’ [teacher slides her fists together to touch in front of her]. The ending sounds for both words were the same: /ake/ [hold up left fist when facing the students to show the ends were the same]. I will do a few and you tell me whether they rhyme.” 

The teacher then leads the group through two more examples, one that doesn’t rhyme and one that does. The teacher directs the students to show thumbs up or down to indicate whether the words rhyme.

Steps:

  1. The teacher dictates two words. Don’t say anything between the words; a brief pause will suffice.
  2. All students repeat the words.
  3. All students show the two parts of the first word using their fists.
  4. All students show the two parts of the second word using their fists.
  5. All students show thumbs up or down to indicate whether the words rhyme.

After some practice, take away the scaffold of segmenting the onset and rime:

Steps:

  1. The teacher dictates two words.
  2. One student shows thumbs up or down to indicate whether the words rhyme.
  3. All students show thumbs up or down to indicate whether the words rhyme.

This activity can be extended to include three words. The teacher asks students which two words rhyme.

Repeat these steps with as many as 10 sets of words.

 

Generating rhyming words

For students with poor phonological awareness, coming up with words that rhyme is a difficult task. For other students, it will be hard to keep them from blurting out rhyming words. To make the task easier, allow nonsense words as well as real words.

“I can say two words that rhyme. Watch me. ‘Watch’ ‘notch’. They rhyme. I can say a word that rhymes. It doesn’t have to be a real word. ‘Watch’ ‘zotch’. ‘Zotch isn’t a real word, but it rhymes with ‘watch’ because both words end with the same sounds.”

The teacher then leads the group through two more examples. Then the teacher dictates a word and asks individual students to provide words that rhyme. If the student struggles, the teacher can provide a new onset sound and have the student blend to create a rhyme.

Repeat these steps with as many as 10 words.

 

Single phoneme instruction

New consonant sounds

Teachers should ensure they are articulating the consonant sounds correctly before starting instruction. Be sure to say a consonant sound without a trailing /uh/ sound at the end. For example, the first sound in ‘foot’ is /fffff/ not /fuh/. Adding the trailing /uh/sound interferes with blending sounds to sound out words. It is critical that teachers articulate sounds correctly, so they can teach the sounds correctly.

Here is a list of the 44 sounds (phonemes) of the English language. And here is a YouTube video showing how each of the sounds is pronounced.

Teaching sounds in isolation can start with children as young as age 4, but articulation may interfere with repeating some sounds. Consonant sounds can be introduced in this way:

Steps:

  1. The teacher says: “You will learn a new consonant sound. The sound is: [sound]. Listen again: [sound].”
  2. Students repeat the sound 4 or 5 times as the teacher walks through the room listening.
  • Ensure all students are saying the sound correctly and not adding the /uh/ to the trailing end of the consonant.
  1. For correction, describe how the sound is formed (lips, teeth, tongue), use hand mirrors so students can see themselves making the sounds.
  2. The teacher calls on 6 to 10 individual students to say the sound.
  3. All students say the sound.

 

New vowel sounds

Again, teachers should ensure they are articulating the vowel sounds correctly before starting instruction.

Vowel sounds can be introduced in this way:

Steps:

New sound

  1. The teacher says: “You will learn a new vowel sound. The sound is: /ăăăă/. Listen again: /ăăăă/.”
  2. Students repeat the sound 4 or 5 times as the teacher walks through the room listening. Ensure that all students are saying the sound correctly.
  3. For correction, describe how the sound is formed (lips, teeth, tongue), use hand mirrors so students can see themselves making the sounds.
  4. The teacher calls on 6 to 10 individual students to say the sound.
  5. All students say the sound.

Teach the label

  1. The teacher says: “A label is what we call something. The label for the sound /ăăăă/ is short a.”
  2. All students repeat the label.
  3. The teacher calls on 6 to 10 individual students and asks 2 questions in a different order: “What’s the short a sound? What’s the label for the sound /ăăăă/?”
  4. All students say the sound.
  5. All students say the label.

 

Match the new sound in the initial position

After learning the new (consonant or vowel) sound, teach students to hear the new sound in the initial position. Introduce the activity:

Now you will listen for [sound] at the start of words. You will tell me whether or not the word starts with the sound [sound]. Watch me. I’ll say a word. I’ll show a thumbs up if the word starts with the sound [sound]. I’ll show a thumbs down if the word doesn’t start with the sound [sound].”

[The teacher says a word that starts with the target sound, pauses, then shows a thumbs up. The teacher says another word that doesn’t start with the target sound, pauses, then shows a thumbs down.]

“Let’s do some together.”

[The teacher leads the group through two examples, one with a word that starts with the target sound and one that does not start with the target sound.]

Steps:

  1. The teacher tells students to listen for words that start with the sound [sound].
  2. The teacher dictates a word.
  3. All students repeat the word.
  4. All students show a thumbs up or down to indicate whether the word starts with the target sound.

Repeat these steps with as many as 15 words in a lesson. Start with consonants, then move to short vowels, then long vowels. Do not use words with blends at the beginning.

 

Match the new sound in the final position

Immediately after listening for a new sound in the initial position, students can listen for the same target sound in the final position. This cannot be done with short vowels, of course, as English words do not end in short vowel sounds. Introduce the activity:

“Now you will listen for [sound] at the end of words. You will tell me whether or not the word ends with the sound [sound]. Watch me. I’ll say a word. I’ll show a thumbs up if the word ends with the sound [sound]. I’ll show a thumbs down if the word doesn’t end with the sound [sound].”

[The teacher says a word that ends with the target sound, pauses, then shows a thumbs up. The teacher says another word that doesn’t end with the target sound, pauses, then shows a thumbs down.]

“Let’s do some together.”

[The teacher leads the group through two examples, one with a word that end with the target sound and one that does not end with the target sound.]

Steps:

  1. The teacher tells students to listen for words that end with the sound [sound].
  2. The teacher dictates a word.
  3. All students repeat the word.
  4. All students show a thumbs up or down to indicate whether the word ends with the target sound.

Repeat these steps with as many as 15 words in a lesson

Start with consonants, resume the activity when teaching long vowels. Do not use words with blends at the beginning.

 

Phonemic awareness activities

Even though segmenting sounds is harder than simply identifying the first or last sound, this is a reasonable next step if students have mastered onset-rime. This activity starts with segmenting, and later includes identifying individual sounds.

Segmenting sounds in a syllable

“Words can be broken into individual sounds. We call this segmenting sounds. A segment is a piece of something. We will break words into pieces or segments.”

[Distribute 3 manipulatives per student — in this example, bottle caps.]

When the teacher is modeling, she may have to work right-to-left so it appears left-to-right for students. If she is working on the board, she can work left-to-right.

“First I will show you how to use the caps. I will count 1, 2, 3 and put a cap out for each number. Watch me. 1 [slide a cap forward], 2 [slide a cap working from students’ left-to-right], 3 [slide a cap working from students’ left-to-right]. You do it.”

[Push the caps into a pile to show the start of a new word.]

“Now I will segment sounds in a word, and I will use the caps to show each sound. Watch me. The word is ‘feet’, /f/ [slide a cap], /ee/ [slide a cap], /t/ [slide a cap], feet [sweep finger below the caps blending the sounds]. I’ll do another.” 

The teacher models one or two more words, then leads the group through two examples. Do not use words that contain the letter ‘x’ or ‘qu’ because those represent 2 phonemes each (x=ks; qu=kw). Use words with one, two, or three sounds. Do not use words with blends until all students have mastered segmenting three sound words. Do not use words with r-controlled or strong diphthongs (oy and ou) until students have learned those sounds in isolation.

Steps:

  1. The teacher dictates a word.
  2. All students repeat the word.
  3. One student segments the sounds, sliding a cap for each sound and sweeping a finger below to blend the sounds back into the word.
  4. All students segment the sounds, sliding a cap for each sound and sweeping a finger below to blend the sounds back into the word.
  5. Another student points and says the first sound.
  6. [after that skill is mastered add:]
  7. Another student points and says the last sound.
  8. [after that skill is mastered add:]
  9. Another student points and says the vowel sound (i.e., /ă/).
  10. Another student points and says the vowel label (i.e., short a)

Repeat these steps with as many as 15 words in a lesson.

The teacher can align this activity with vowel sounds being taught in isolation. The teacher may have taught the short a sound and label earlier in the day. Then she selects short a words to segment. In this manner, students master the vowel sounds and labels in the context of spoken words. It takes more effort in word selection. It yields powerful results by providing solid basis for spelling and reading.

Watch and learn

Dr. Louisa Moats helps a kindergarten teacher learn a technique for teaching phonemic segmentation using chips — to help students learn to identify the individual sounds within a word. Letters can be introduced later.

 

Blending sounds

[Distribute three manipulatives per student — in this example, bottle caps.]

“We can blend sounds to say a word. Watch me. The sounds are /s/ [slide a cap], /ō/ [slide a cap], /p/ [slide a cap]. I will touch and say, then blend. /s/ [touch first cap], /ō/ [touch middle cap], /p/ [touch last cap], soap [sweeping a finger below the caps]. Do it with me.”

When the teacher is modeling, she may have to work right-to-left so it appears left-to-right for students. If she is working on the board, she can work left-to-right.

[Push the caps into a pile to show the start of a new word.]

The teacher leads the group through two examples. Remember, do not use words that contain the letter ‘x’ or ‘qu’ because those represent 2 phonemes each. Use words with one, two, or three sounds. Do not use words with blends until all students have mastered segmenting three sound words. Do not use words with r-controlled or strong diphthongs (oy and ou) until students have learned those sounds in isolation.

Steps:

  1. The teacher dictates the sounds, using caps to show the sounds.
  2. All students repeat the the sounds, using caps to show the sounds.
  3. One student touches and says the sounds, then sweeps a finger below to blend the sounds into a word.
  4. All students touch and say the sounds, then sweep a finger below to blend the sounds into a word.
  5. Another student points and says the first sound.
  6. [after that skill is mastered add:]
  7. Another student points and says the last sound.
  8. [after that skill is mastered add:]
  9. Another student points and says the vowel sound (i.e., /ō/).
  10. Another student points and says the vowel label (i.e., long o)

Repeat these steps with as many as 15 words in a lesson. As with segmenting, words can be selected that reinforce sounds being taught in isolation.

 

Manipulating sounds (adding, substituting, deleting)

This phonemic awareness activity is the most difficult of all the phonological awareness activities. It is the pinnacle skill. Keep in mind that poor phonological awareness is the most common area of weakness for struggling readers. Students who master this skill are on a solid footing for reading success.

Adding sounds

It generally makes sense to teach the manipulation of sounds in this sequence: add, substitute, delete,  for pragmatic reasons. One needs sounds to delete, so adding and substituting must occur before deleting. Manipulating sounds is similar to manipulating syllables.

Remember, do not use words that contain the letter ‘x’ or ‘qu’ because those represent 2 phonemes each. Use words with one, two, or three sounds. Do not use words with blends until all students have mastered segmenting three sound words. Do not use words with

r-controlled or strong diphthongs (oy and ou) until students have learned those sounds in isolation.

“I can add sounds to make new word. Watch me. I say the first sound and slide a cap: /ī/ [slide a cap]. I add the last sound: /s/ [slide a cap so it appears left-to-right for students]. I touch and say the syllables: /ī/, /s/, ‘ice’ [sweep finger below the caps left-to-right]. The first sound is /ī/ [touch first cap]. The vowel sound is /ī/ [touch first cap]. The vowel label is long i [touch first cap]. The last sound is /s/ [touch last cap]. Do it with me.”  The teacher then leads the group through two examples.

Note: The teacher can add sounds in this manner: /m/ /ĭ/, /m/ /ĭ/ /s/, or /ĭ/ /s/, /m/ /i/ /s/. The only change in procedure is to announce whether adding a sound at the start or end of the word.

[Push the caps into a pile to show the start of a new word.]

Steps:
  1. The teacher says a sound and slides a cap.
  2. All students repeat the sound and slide a cap.
  3. The teacher says whether adding a starting or ending sound, then dictates the sound and slides a cap.
  4. All students repeat.
  5. All students touch and say, and then blend the sounds into a word.
  6. All students touch and say, then blend the syllables to say the word.
  7. One student touches and says the first sound.
  8. Another student touches and says the last sound.
  9. Another student touches and says the vowel sound.
  10. Another student touches and says the vowel label.

Repeat these steps with as many as 15 words

Substituting sounds

“I can change one sound in a word to form a new word. Watch me. I will change ‘make’ to ‘bake’. Which sound is different in ‘make’ and ‘bake’? I will use the caps to find the sound that changes.”

[The teacher uses the caps to touch and say, then blend ‘make’. Below the caps, the teacher touches and says, then blends ‘bake’.]

“The first sound in make is /m/. The first sound in bake is /b/. I remove the first cap, and slide a new cap.”

[The teacher removes the first cap, saying /m/. The teacher slides in a new cap, saying /b/.]

“Not I’ll touch and say the new word. /b/ [touch first cap], /ā/ [touch middle cap], /k/ [touch last cap], ‘bake’ [sweep finger below caps].”

The teacher models one more example, then leads the group through two examples.

Steps:

Starting word

  1. The teacher dictates a starting word.
  2. All students repeat the word.
  3. All students slide caps to show each sound, then sweep a finger below to blend the sounds into a word.

Substituting a sound

  1. Teacher says: “Change [old word] to [new word]. Repeat.”
  2. All students repeat “Change [old word] to [new word].”
  3. All students touch and say, then blend old word.
  4. All students touch and say, then blend new word [pointing below caps].
  5. Teacher instructs students to point at the sound that changes.
  6. One student removes the cap, saying the sound going out.
  7. Another student puts a new cap in, saying the sound going in.
  8. All students touch and say, then blend the new word.

Repeat these steps with 4 to 6 words in a lesson.

Substitute just the first sound for several lessons. Substitute the first and last sounds for several lessons. Finally teach substituting the middle sound. Practice substituting sounds for several lessons. Then reintroduce adding sounds. Practice adding and substituting sounds for several lessons before introducing deleting sounds.

Deleting sounds

“I can delete one sound in a word to form a new word. Watch me. I will change ‘bike’ to ‘by’. Which sound is removed in ‘bike’ to ‘by’? I will use the caps to find the sound that is removed.”

[The teacher uses the caps to touch and say, then blend ‘bike’. Below the caps, the teacher touches and says, then blends ‘by’.]

“The last sound in ‘bike’ is /k/. The last sound in ‘by’ is /ī/. I will remove the last cap.”

[The teacher removes the last cap, saying /k/.]

“Now I’ll touch and say the new word. /b/ [touch first cap], /ī/ [touch last cap], ‘by’ [sweep finger below caps].”

The teacher models an example of deleting the first sound and the last sound. The teacher leads the group through two examples, once deleting the first sound and once deleting the last sound.

Steps:

Starting word

  1. The teacher dictates a starting word.
  2. All students repeat the word.
  3. All students slide caps to show each sound, then sweep a finger below to blend the sounds into a word.

Deleting a sound

  1. Teacher says: “Change [old word] to [new word]. Repeat.”
  2. All students repeat “Change [old word] to [new word].”
  3. All students touch and say, then blend old word.
  4. All students touch and say, then blend new word [pointing below caps].
  5. Teacher instructs students to point at the sound that will be removed.
  6. One student removes the cap, saying the sound going out.
  7. All students touch and say, then blend the new word.

Repeat these steps with 6 to 8 words in a lesson. Delete sounds for several lessons. Then reintroduce adding and substituting sounds.

These additions, substitutions and deletions will form sound chains — not spelling chains. For example: ick to sick, to lick, to like, to lime, to dime, to die, to I.

Once you’ve introduced the skills of  adding, substituting, and deleting sounds, you can continue to have the students practice these skills.

 

 

Learn More!

 

References

Ehri, L. C. (2004). Teaching phonemic awareness and phonics: An explanation of the National Reading Panel meta-analyses. In P. McCardle & V. Chhabra (Eds.), The voice of evidence in reading research (pp. 153-186). Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing Co.

O’Connor, R. E. (2011). Phoneme awareness and the alphabetic principle. In R. E. O’Connor & P. F. Vadasy (Eds.), Handbook of reading interventions (pp. 9-26). New York: Guilford.

 

Reading 101 is a collaboration with the Center for Effective Reading Instruction and The International Dyslexia Association.

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