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Ready to Read:  Phonological Awareness
Here's a short video about phonological awareness, including suggestions on how to share this important early literacy skill with children. To view, click the PLAY button on the left (arrow pointing right).

Phonological Awareness

Here are some baby rhymes that are fun to share and start the process of developing phonological awareness.  Just click the PLAY button (arrow on the left) in the Google Media Player to view.

Phonological awareness is the ability to hear and play with the small units of sounds that make up words.  It includes activities such as rhyme, initial sounds, and breaking words into syllables. 

Phonological awareness looks at four concepts:

bulletPhoneme.  The smallest part of the way a words sounds.  The word "is" has 2 phonemes (/i/ /s/) and the word "lick" has 3 (/l/ /i/ /k/).  The English language has about 42 phonemes.
bulletGrapheme.  Sounds that we use in English can be represented by one letter or two.  These are the smallest part of our written language that represents a sound.  Examples of one-letter graphemes include b, d, k, and r.  Examples of two-letter graphemes include br, ch, and sh.
bulletPhonemic Awareness.  Learning to hear, identify, and manipulate each sound in a word (phoneme). 
bulletPhonics.  Understanding the relationship between phonemes (sounds of words) and graphemes (how a word is written). 

Most children who have an understanding of phonological awareness have an easier time learning to read.  To understand a spoken language, a child must be able to hear and distinguish the sounds that make up that language.  Children that develop an ability to recognize rhymes, syllables, and phonemes learn to read quicker.  Picture books for young children are written to help.  Playing word games is important too.

To help develop phonological awareness:

bulletHelp your pre-reader become aware of the smaller sounds that make up words by learning nursery rhymes and making up your own silly, nonsense rhymes together.
bulletAsk whether two words rhyme: “Do ‘cat’ and ‘dog’ rhyme?” “Do ‘cat’ and ‘hat’ rhyme?”
bulletSing songs with your child every day. Songs naturally break words into syllables and are a fun way to learn about word sounds.
bulletPlay “I Spy” with rhymes. “I spy with my little eye something that rhymes with far (car).” Let your child make up rhymes and have you guess too.
bulletPut two words together to make a new word: “What word would we have if we put ‘cow’ and ‘boy’ together?”
bulletSee if your child can change the beginning sounds of his or her name. “Jimmy, can you change the /j/ in Jimmy to the /t/ sound?” (Don’t say the letter name.)
bulletSay rhymes and sing songs in the language most comfortable for you.
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