Phonemic Awareness Activities, The Accelerated Learning Way
One of the greatest discoveries I found that allows young children to learn how to read quickly is beginning sound isolation. Phonemic awareness activities help young children isolate the parts of words that give them that jump in reading. I'm excited to share the key to learning how to teach your children to read at a younger age!
Beginning Sound Isolation
All Reading Begins with Sounds
Phonemic awareness is the ability to perceive individual sounds in spoken language. It is this awareness that makes learning to read with phonics fun and easy. It begins with sound isolation.
For example, the picture at the right represents a spoken word.
You know what word I'm thinking of. Now, don't spell it, just think of it only as a spoken word, not a printed word. When we think about the spoken word for this picture, and analyze it, we find that it is made up of 3 distinct and separate sounds: /h/.../ow/.../s/. This ability to hear and perceive the individual sounds in spoken language is what allows a child to understand how written language and spoken language map onto each other. Research stresses the importance of teaching a child with phonemic awareness activities.
Perhaps the simplest definition of reading is knowing how to map spoken language onto printed words.
Part of phonemic awareness obviously requires the ability to hear the sounds. So a child with a hearing problem who is unable to actually hear speech sounds clearly and accurately is going to have difficulty with learning to read. But it is not only a child's hearing that allows him to perceive the sounds in a spoken word. It's more than hearing. It's an awareness that language can be broken down into smaller pieces.
Learning About Phonemic Awareness
I learned about phonemic awareness from 5-1/2 year old Theresa who wasn't progressing along the path of reading despite her obvious intelligence and willingness. As I was working with her, trying to figure out where the problem was, I pulled out a rhyming game. There was no logical reason to begin with a simple rhyming game but that's what I did. And much to my surprise, Theresa couldn't match up the rhyming pictures. And somehow this discovery - that Theresa couldn't rhyme - hit me like a ton of bricks. Instantly my intuition led me to see that there was a connection between Theresa's inability to rhyme and her struggles with learning letters and decoding simple words. This connection, as I later came to understand more fully, was in fact the role that phonemic awareness plays in the acquisition of reading.
This experience had a profound impact on me. I didn't have the right words for it - I didn't read the research or know about phonemic awareness until 10 years later. The only way I could express it to my colleagues at the time was to say, "We've got to teach the children to hear sounds."
And so we began to create lessons and games designed to teach children to hear the beginning sound of a word and then all the sounds of a word. And when we learned to do that, a wonderful thing happened: very young children began to read. We were starting to figure this reading thing out.
Step One: Beginning Sound Isolation
Fact: if you want a child to understand, learn and remember the sounds that alphabet letters make, he has to have an understanding of the alphabetic principle, that is, how sounds in spoken language map with letters in print.
Fact: I didn't learn this at an institute of higher learning or read it in a book. I learned it from the preschoolers in my class while we played fun phonics games.
But in order to understand the alphabetic principle, a child must first be able to perceive the individual sounds in spoken language. Not all of the sounds in a word /h/.../ow/.../s/, just the first one (/h/).
Once I figured out that children need to be able to isolate the beginning sound of a spoken word in order to understand, learn and remember letter-sounds, I was on fire to find fun and engaging ways to get them to do it.
I'd like to share with you some accelerated learning methods to teach beginning sound isolation. Please click on the links below. Thank you for reading!
This article was written by Randall Klein, Early Reading Specialist
Click here for a free accelerated learning beginning sound game based from this article.
See the great phonemic awareness activities card games at right.
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