Phonological awareness includes understanding that spoken words are made up of syllables and sounds that we can separate and blend, that some words start with the same sound, and that some words rhyme.

How can I help?

  • Give your child repeated exposure to rhyming words.
    • Create several different rhyming bags. Help your child gather objects from around the house that rhyme (e.g., rock, sock, lock). Place objects in a bag or box. Pour the contents of each bag into one pile and have your child sort the objects back into the rhyming bags. You might even try playing a game where your child can pick up one object and then you pick up another object and your child can decide if they rhyme.
  • Emphasize beginning sounds.
    • Say two words and emphasize the beginning sound of each word by repeating the sound of the first letter /d/ /d/ duck, /b/ /b/ bird. After you say the set of words, have your child give you a “thumbs up” if the words have the same beginning sound or a “thumbs down” if they do not have the same beginning sound.
  • Blend onset and rime.
    • Put an object behind your back. Have your child listen carefully as you say a word divided into the first sound of the word (onset) and the rest of the word (rime). "Listen: h…at." (Leave a one-second pause between the h and at when you say this.) "What’s the word? Hat is the word." (show the object). "Say the word fast?" (Show your child how to do this if he or she does not understand.)
  • Blend and segment compound words.
    • Make word puzzle cards to play a silly word game. Cut out, print or draw pictures of objects that are part of compound words. For example, draw a dog and a house for the word doghouse, pan and cake for the word pancake, or a cow and a girl for the word cowgirl. Say one of the compound words fast and have your child find the two pictures that make the word. Repeat with different words. Make silly words too, like panhouse, or dogcow. Let your child make silly words that you have to put together.