Listening Skills: Step 1 Phonological Awareness Builds Successful Readers One Sound at a Time

Step 1 Listening is the first step in getting students to understand sounds and how to use them.

Listening with Phonological Awareness is about listening for sounds and discriminating the sounds. I was talking to a new teacher and she was frustrated by all the *NEW* stuff they were required to do in small group. She didn’t feel like she was given a good explanation about what “Phonological Awareness” is. They were told it’s important. They were told not to skip it. They were told to make sure it was in their plans. It is All. The. Buzz.

…and it makes me kinda crazy. It’s not new. It’s been around forever. We’ve been doing it all along in small group as a part of best practices.

In the past few years phonological awareness is getting much more attention…and I have to say it’s much needed attention.

Listening is Step 1

It’s not hard for most, but it is definitely worth your time. Students need to be able to discriminate between sounds that are alike and different and be able to use those sounds to their benefit. Activities can be done in whole group, small group or one-on-one. Lessons can include discriminating between sounds in “nature” (animal sounds) or sounds “in their world” (cars, bells, whistles, phones, etc). I remember playing Hap Palmer records for my students and getting them to recognize sounds.

Listening: Who is STILL in the barn?

Step 1 Listening is the first step in getting students to understand sounds and how to use them.

I love this little game about listening.

Take your barn and put two animals “outside” the barn.

One is still in the barn, but we don’t know who.

You should make three animal sounds.

One for each of the animals pictured and one for the animal still in the barn.

woof! baaaa! neigh!

Ask your students, who is still  in the barn? Help them practice associating the animal sounds with the animals to determine who is still in the barn.

Repeat the sounds, “Who says ‘woof”?” Touch the dog. “Who says ‘baaa’?” Touch the sheep. Finally, “Who says ‘neigh’?” The horse must still be in the barn.

This is such a fun little game. You can do it over and over with different animals. Start with saying the missing animal last, but move to the middle and first position to raise the bar.

Another way to play is reading a short story (2-3 sentences) and asking the students which animal is missing.

Listening: Additional Activities

Small group lessons can be easily be crafted to be as short as a minute (two rounds of “Who is in the barn?”) or as long as the group time lasts (to play listening bingo).

I created a set for Listening Activities. It has 5 activities, but they can be used an infinite number of times.

1 – Listening Bingo with 12 Bingo cards

Students use game boards to mark sounds and create a BINGO.

2 – Who is STILL in the barn? (using animal sounds and cards)

3 – Who is STILL in the zoo? (using short stories and animal cards)

Students have 3 animals in the zoo with two pictures showing (similar to the barn game). However, teachers read a short story instead of animal sounds.

4 – Matching Passage to Picture (using a sentence to determine the details in a picture)

Students have 3 pictures and match the sentence read by the teacher to one of the pictures.

5 – Listening and Order (asking students to order the animals according to their sounds)

Students have 4 animal picture cards. As the teacher says two animal sounds, the students use the cards to order those sounds.

Check out the set in the video below.

When students can match and order the sounds it gives them a heads-up for matching letter sounds and ordering letters. What else do you do for listening activities to build phonological awareness?

These are also included in the Phonological Awareness BUNDLE.

Phonological Awareness BUNDLE
Cathy Collier

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