Easy Phonological Awareness Activities for Kindergarten and 1st Grade
July 8, 2022
Are you looking for early phonological awareness activities to try out with your kindergarten and first-grade students? In this blog post, I am going to share three ideas and activities that help students with phonological awareness skills. While rhyming is the first thing that usually comes to mind when we think about phonological awareness, I am going to focus on three different activities that you may also want to introduce to your kids. If you’re looking for rhyming activities and ideas, check out my blog post here: Rhyming Activities.
Before I dive into this post, I wanted to let you know you can watch or listen to all this information in video format below:
To read about all three activities, just keep scrolling!
Activity #1: Identify Words in a Spoken Sentence
While this type of activity may seem relatively simple, it is important for your students to identify parts of speech while someone is talking. An easy way to have students practice this is to just say a sentence out loud and have them repeat it while they segment each word and mark it with a manipulative. Just like we do when segmenting sounds or phonemes in a word, students can use their manipulative, such as squishing play-doh or moving a counter, every time they hear a word in a sentence.
For example, if you say “The dog sat.” in front of your class, your students will then take their counters and repeat the sentence while moving up one counter for each word. They will push the first counter up when they hear “The,” then their second counter when they hear “dog,” and lastly they will push up their third counter when they hear “sat.” After they move their counters back down, you can try again with a trickier sentence like “The dog sat on the mat” and have students follow the same steps. You can repeat this a few more times before moving on to a different phonological or phonemic awareness activity.
Tip: An important thing to remember while doing this activity is to speak normally when you are giving the sentence to your class. You want to sound like you would while talking to a friend or reading a book. Your students will be better able to practice this skill if you speak smoothly without slowing down or adding extra pauses between the words.
Activity #2: Practice Alliteration
Alliteration is the repetition of the same initial sound, either with two or more words or two or more syllables in a row. Practicing alliterating helps students to identify and produce more matching initial phonemes. This can be really fun for kids, so there are a few different ways I like to have them practice alliteration.
The first activity is to have your students come up with a word that has the same sound as their name. They would first need to identify the initial phoneme in their name, then come up with a word to go with it. For example, my name is Susan, so I would say “silly Susan.”
A good way to model this for your class is to first explain what alliteration is, give some examples using your own name, then have your students brainstorm ideas together. They can come up with more alliterative words to go with your example, or you could go around the room and have each student share their own alliteration that they came up with for their name. If any students get stumped, the class can all brainstorm together to help!
During this activity, you want students to recognize that they are finding a match for the initial phoneme and not the initial letter. For example, my son’s name is Theo, so we used the word “throwing” while doing this activity and I pretended to throw him a ball. We chose “throwing” because of the /th/ sound and not a word like “terrific” that has the “t” sound (even though he is quite terrific).
The same applies to names like “Juan” or “Cindy”. Even though these names start with “J” and “C”, you want your students to come up with alliterative words that match the sound, not the letter, such as “wonderful Juan” and “surprising Cindy.”
Another way for students to practice identifying alliteration is by reading some great stories. One of my favorite books for this activity is “Sammy Skunk’s Super Sniffer – Animal Antics A-Z.” The story itself is really cute and the main point of this book is to highlight all the alliteration you hear on each page. For example, there is a full list of animals with alliterative names like “Tessa Tiger” and “Polly Porcupine.” Reading this book together is a fun way for students to start identifying what alliteration is in an exciting and entertaining way.
The third activity for your early learners to start practicing alliteration is by picking an animal, such as a penguin, and telling your students that the animal can only eat certain foods that begin with the same initial sound as “penguin”. Your students will first have to identify that “penguin” begins with the /p/ sound. Then they can brainstorm fun foods that also begin with the “p” sound, like pop tarts, popcorn, and pizza.
You can also put your students in small groups for this activity, giving them each a different animal to brainstorm all foods that each animal can eat. Then you can bring them all back together to discuss as a class!
Activity #3: Blending Onset and Rime
Every syllable has two different parts: the onset and the rime. The onset is the letter or letters that come before the first vowel. The rime is the first vowel and all the letters that come after it in that syllable. For example, the first vowel in the word “ball” is “a”. Therefore, the onset of “ball” is “b” and the rime is “all.”
When having students practice this type of activity, I like to have them blend the sounds orally. You can do this by separating the onset and the rime when you say a word out loud in front of your students and have them blend the sounds together to form the word. For example, you would tell the class, “I am going to say two word parts and you are going to blend them together to make a word!” /b/ – /all/, then have your students blend the two sounds together to form “ball.”
A visual and tactile way for students to practice this is by using connecting cubes. For the word “ship”, you would hold up the first cube and make the “sh” sound, then hold up the second cube and make the “ip” sound. Then you would physically put the cubes together and say “ship” to demonstrate how the sounds come together to form the word. You can repeat this with your students using other words, like “tr” and “uck” → “truck” or “c” and “at” → “cat”.
I want to highlight that phonological awareness activities are auditory processes for students to work with sounds they hear in words. You are not introducing the letters or graphemes that make these sounds yet! Depending on your students’ skill level, you only want to do these types of activities for about 5 minutes each day.
Do you use these types of activities with your K/1 students?! Let me know down in the comments!
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