Phonemic Awareness: Developing Sound Sense


Learn about phonemic awareness, phonological awareness, and phonemes and why they are so important for learning to read.



A comprehensive curriculum for teaching phonemic awareness, including lesson plans with scope and sequence.


Before You Start

Review these critical concepts before you jump in!


Teaching Tips

Tips and suggestions for using our curriculum and planning your own phonemic awareness lessons.


Pacing & Assessment

Helpful materials and resources for determining which modules and activities your child should be focusing on.


Sound Pronunciations

Learn to pronounce sounds (phonemes) properly, to make it easier for your child to learn how to blend sounds into words.


Phonological Awareness: Sounds in Language

Listening (A1–A9)

Phonemic awareness pre-skills begin with basic listening skills. Learn to pay attention to environmental noises and animal sounds.


Rhyming (B1–B10)

Rhyming activities highlight the similarities and differences between words. These games will also introduce the idea that words have structure as well as meaning.


Sentences & Words

Learn that language has structure as well as meaning. Learning about sentences and words builds the foundation for dividing words into syllables and ultimately individual sounds.


Compound Words

Bridge the gap between words and syllables with a series of games with compound words (two-syllable words made from a pair of one-syllable words).


Syllables (E1–E14)

Children will learn to hear the syllables within words, divide words into syllables (analysis), and put separated syllables together into a word (synthesis). Understanding this word structure is vital to learning phonemic awareness.


Phonemic Awareness: Sounds in Words

Word Families (F1–F9)

This section is a bridge leading to a child’s being able to hear one sound (phoneme) of a word in isolation and blend it together with a spoken word family ending to form a whole word.


Beginning Sounds (G1–G6)

Learn to listen for and pick out the beginning sounds of words. This is where we start to divide words into individual sounds.


Ending Sounds (H1–H12)

Hearing and manipulating the last sound in a word is more difficult than hearing the first sound. We will spend a whole series of activities developing this vital skill.


Digraph Sounds (I1–I6)

Digraph sounds (a.k.a. “special sounds”) are single sounds written with two letters (such as sh and ch). In this module children will learn to hear and identify these sounds, as well as learning how they are written.


Connecting Sounds (J1–J15)

Practice working with individual sounds (phonemes), including vowels, adding and removing them from the beginning and end of short words. Learn to count the number of sounds in words and pay attention to the order of the sounds.


Consonant Blends (K1–K7)

Introduce your child to initial consonant blends, such as in black and draw. Learn to hear, blend, and isolate the individual sounds in these tricky consonant pairs.


Beginning Reading (L1–L6)

Put your child’s phonemic awareness skills to work in reading actual words! Swap the sounds — first, middle, and last — within words to make new words.


1. What Is Phonemic Awareness?

Phonemic awareness is the ability to think about, analyze, and manipulate the sound structure of individual words. This pre-reading skill, also called phonological awareness, will make phonics that much easier for your child. It is the foundation of a child’s reading ability — if a child can’t hear the individual sounds in a word, he will always struggle to figure out the letters in that word.


Phonemic awareness is the skill of hearing the difference between bat and mat and understanding that changing the /b/ sound in bat to an /mmm/ sound can create a different word.

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2. Teaching Phonemic Awareness

We at have created a comprehensive curriculum for phonemic awareness instruction. It is intended for parents to use with one child in the home as well as for preschool teachers to use in the classroom. The curriculum is divided into eleven sections, each containing about ten activities and games. All the activities are designed to be short and engaging.

Just go through the curriculum in order, as later exercises will build upon the skills learned in earlier exercises. Refer to our Teaching Tips for suggestions on planning lessons and tailoring activities to your child.

How long will this take? For typically developing four-year-olds, it takes about ten months, or one school year, to go through the entire Phonemic Awareness Curriculum.


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3. Benefits of Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness makes learning to read easier. A child with phonemic awareness can already blend sounds into words, and so she finds phonics more intuitive. When a child can separate words into sounds, spelling (breaking words into letters) becomes easier.

“Teach[ing] phonemic awareness…accelerates reading and writing growth of the entire classroom…”
Ingvar Lundberg, “Phonemic Awareness in Young Children”

A typical child entering elementary school with high phonemic awareness is almost certain to become a skilled and confident reader. A child with low phonemic awareness is likely to struggle with phonics and reading.

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3 Responses to “Phonemic Awareness & Phonological Awareness: The Foundation For Literacy”

  1. Teach Phonemic Awareness Simply and Effectively « Peer Tutoring Resource Center

    […] Phonemic awareness is a vital skill for children who are learning to read. Put simply, it is the ability to split up and rearrange individual sounds (called phonemes) within spoken words. Some people call this pre-phonics, because a child who has learned to hear the sounds within words is ready to start connecting those sounds to letters and written words. Research has proven that phonemic awareness is one of the two best predictors of success in early literacy. […]

  2. Kaitlyn Brown

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