When your toddler is proceeding from infancy into the preschool years, it’s time for him to be phonemically aware. For the uninitiated, phonemic awareness is the capability to recognize, ponder over, and manipulate sounds in spoken English. It’s a key skill limited to auditory and verbal level, no reading or writing involved. In fact, phonemic awareness is a precursor to reading skills, helping the child to develop better spelling and word recognition capabilities. Any preschool or international school worth its salt focuses on developing the child’s phonemic awareness before jumping into teaching phonics. Here’re a few proven activities to put your children on the path of phonemic awareness in any preschool or elementary classroom.
Reporting sounds in sequence:
Here’s a game that challenges the children to first recognize single sounds and finally recognize sequences of sounds. Make participants cover their eyes with hands and introduce a common sound, such as clapping, shutting the door/window, coughing, stamping, and more. Now, ask the children to identify the sounds while having their eyes covered. As the game progresses, make two noises in a sequence. Again, ask them to identify the two sounds without peeking. Moving forward, make three sounds and encourage students to report them in sequence in a complete sentence. The response should be invited individually from each participant. For variation sake, ask children to make sounds for their fellow participants to identify and report. The game is helpful in developing memory, attentional engagement, and ability to indentify sound sequences. Also, students’ familiarity with ordinal terms like first, second etc. is ensured.
Storytelling with a twist:
Recite a familiar story or a poem to students who are sitting with their eyes closed. However, change the wordings, every so often. Ask the children to detect and report misspoken words whenever they occur. The student should be encouraged to explain what was wrong with the sentence. The game engagingly helps students get familiar with the contrasts in speech sounds and the meaning of words and phrases they come across in the story or poem read to them. The game offers you the luxury of various variations that can be replayed time and again during the year for better phonemic awareness. The word sequence can be reversed or the words, swapped with each other. For instance, Baa-baa black sheep can be read out as Baa-baa blue sheep, and Twinkle, twinkle little star, as winkle, winkle little car/bar. The game helps students acquire the ability to differentiate between what they expect to hear and what they really hear.
Clap the name:
Any online school is likely to include this game to make children familiar with the nature of syllables. The activity gets underway when you invite a child by pronouncing his name syllable by syllable. When the name is being pronounced, you and the invited child have to clap. Then ask the child about the number of syllables he/she heard in his/her own name. The names can be lengthy involving several syllables. In that case, you are required to help the child with the counting. Several variations of the activity are available to make it more palatable to kids.