Marking sounds in words
Competence in phonemic awareness is clearly related to success in spelling skills and involves understanding and demonstrating skills in:
- hearing individual sounds in spoken language - phoneme awareness.
- manipulating individual sounds in spoken language.
Modelling strategies and then guiding students through those strategies in controlled and then independent activities provide the opportunity for them to see, practise and consolidate skills. Further to this, activities which allow students opportunities to transfer and consolidate their new skills in a variety of contexts are essential. There are many strategies that support phonemic awareness; however, instruction should progress from 'shallow to deep' (Stanovich, 1993).
As there is a reciprocal relationship between reading and phonemic awareness (Adams, 1990; Stanovich, 1986), phonemic awareness is taught in the context of teaching reading and writing.
- Adams, M.J. (1990). Beginning to read: Thinking and learning about print. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
- Stanovich, K. E. (1986). Matthew effects in reading : Some consequences of individual differences in the acquisition of literacy. Reading Research Quarterly, 21, 360-406.
- Stanovich, K. E. (1993). Does reading make you smarter? Literacy and the development of verbal intelligence. Advances in Child Development and Behaviour, 24, 133-180.
Activities to support the strategy
Activity 1: beginning-middle-end
Beginning-Middle-End is useful as an extremely brief, whole-class activity.
- The teacher places the letters of a three- or four-letter word face down so that the students cannot see them and tells the students the word (e.g., dog).
- The teacher and students sing the following brief song to the tune of “Are You Sleeping, Brother John?”: “Beginning, middle, end; beginning, middle, end/Where is the sound? Where is the sound?/Where’s the d in dog? Where’s the d in dog?/Let’s find out. Let’s find out.”
- After singing, one student comes forward, picks the position (beginning, middle, or end) that he or she believes the sound is in, and turns around the letter card. If the child reveals the letter d the teacher asks the class, “Does this letter make the d sound?” and confirms, “Yes, it does, doesn’t it? We hear the d sound at the beginning of dog.”
- Repeat this process for the other two phonemes. It is more engaging if the teacher does not ask for the phonemes in sequence. Middle sounds are more difficult to discern so they should be asked later.
- Use Beginning – Middle–End one or two times each day during kindergarten and early first grade, selecting words that reinforce the letters that students are studying.
- Use high frequency words on the blank chart to show a visual letter-phoneme map. Laminate on A3 to use several times a day.
- Use a Y shaped arrow when two letters make one phoneme and no arrows connecting phonemes that make no sound (e.g. silent ‘e’).
Activity 2: word mapping
Use high frequency words on the blank chart to show a visual letter-phoneme map. Laminate on A3 to use several times a day.
Use a Y shaped arrow when two letters make one phoneme and no arrows connecting phonemes that make no sound (e.g. silent ‘e’).
Activity 3: spelling roll–a–word (ES1 – S2)
Start with the first word in your spelling list. Roll a die and complete the activity for the number you roll. Continue with the rest of your list.
Activity 4: word family garden (ES1 – S2)
Have students help to identify words with the same ending and then display the word families in an attractive manner. Make it possible to add to the display. For example, add new petals to the flowers in the following word family garden.
Instructions available at www.kiwicrate.com/projects/word-family-garden
ACELA1471: Expressing and developing ideas: Understand how to use digraphs, long vowels, blends and silent letters to spell words, and use morphemes and syllabification to break up simple words and use visual memory to write irregular words.
EN1-5A: Outcome 5: uses a variety of strategies, including knowledge of sight words and letter–sound correspondences, to spell familiar words (EN1-5A) - Understand and apply knowledge of language forms and features: understand how to use digraphs, long vowels, blends and silent letters to spell words, and use morphemes and syllabification to break up simple words and use visual memory to write irregular words.
Apps and iPads
- Ensuring students work in pairs will encourage discussion and develop spoken language when they are working with Apps on iPads.
|Early literacy skill||App||Cost||App description|
|Letter identification||iWrite Words||Free||Trace upper- and lowercase letters and simple three-letter words.|
|Letter identification||Little Matchups ABC||Free||Match lowercase to uppercase letters.|
|Phonics||Little Matchups ABC||Free||Match letters to letter sounds. Match letters to pictures that start with that sound.|
|Phonics||ABC pocket phonics||Free||Identify letters based on sound to create words.|
|Phonics||Word Connex||$6.49||Sort words according to common meanings, spelling patterns and phonics features.|
|Phonics||ABC Spelling Magic||Free||Spelling app for young learners exploring 3 letter words. Picture cues help and then drag letters into place. Teaches the sound of the letter and how to build words.|
|Sight words||Fry Sight Words||Free||Provides a list of 10 sight words at a time for practice; matching game makes memorisation fun. Can be customised for each student.|
- Reading Rockets: activities and ideas for building reading skills at home (you may need to paste this link into your browser: