Phonemic Awareness: Step 6 Helping Students Thrive with Phonemes

The final steps in Phonological Awareness is adding, deleting, substituting, and manipulating phonemes. These are critical skills to bridging phonics.

Let’s wrap this up with Phonemic Awareness. As mentioned before, Phonological Awareness is oral and students need to understand letters and sounds before the symbols are added. Previously, we have looked at matching beginning (alliteration) and ending (rhyming) sounds…moved to identifying words in a sentencesyllables in the words…and breaking words into onset and rime. We are at the phonemic level now. We are focusing on the individual sounds in a word (and it has nothing to do with letters).

As with all things phonological, there are steps, but we are at the end.

Compound Word Combine and Divide

Students can start the process of phonemic awareness, by blending and segmenting. The easiest way to practice blending and segmenting is starting with compound words.  Asking students to combine and divide compound words gives them a “concrete” place to start. There is meaning in each part of the word, so combining it and separating it makes sense. We need to lead them in careful, explicit practice. First, start with combining two words to make a new word. I usually did this by holding out a hand with each word, then asking them to clap a new word.

Teacher: “basket”     “ball” (making sure to put a pause between words)

Students: “basketball”

Next step in phonemic awareness, ask the students to divide the compound word. You can hold you hands clasped and as they respond, you separate your hands with each word.

Teacher: “airport”

Students: “air”        “port”

Compound Word Delete Parts

The final steps in Phonological Awareness is adding, deleting, substituting, and manipulating phonemes. These are critical skills to bridging phonics.

Once students have an understanding of combining and dividing word parts with compound words, you progress to deleting word parts. Starting with deleting the initial word part, helps students keep the last word they heard.

Teacher: “Say basketball.”

Students: “Basketball.”

Teacher: “Now say it again but take away basket.”

Students: “Ball.”


Finally, they are asked to delete the final word part.

Teacher: “Say cupcake.”

Students: “Cupcake.”

Teacher: “Now say it again but take away cake.”

Students: “Cup.”

From there, students learn to add and delete phonemes in words. Helping them practice this skill can be a critical step in independently encoding and decoding.

Word Ladders are my Favorite!

Finally, let’s talk word ladders. I absolutely love word ladders. Word ladders allow students to substitute and manipulate phonemes all at one time! Students follow step-by-step directions to manipulate words. The more this is automatic, the more students can do this while they read and write words.

The last sets in my Phonological Awareness BIG Bundle, help with Adding, Deleting, Substituting, and Manipulating.

The Adding and Deleting Set has 5 different activities: Adding and Deleting with Compound Words, Adding and Deleting Word Parts with Compound Words, Adding and Deleting Word Parts with Onset/Rime, Adding and Deleting Initial Word Parts, and Adding and Deleting Final Word Parts.

Substituting and Manipulating Phonemes
Substituting and Manipulating Phonemes

The Substituting Set has 3 different activities: Find the Change, Write the Change, and How did it Change?

The Manipulating Set has 5 different activities: Substitute the Target Word, Add to the Target, Add and Delete Phoneme Writing, Manipulate the Target Word, and Word Ladders.

Phonemic Awareness: Step 6 Helping Students Thrive with Phonemes

Make sure you check out the BIG BUNDLE, as well. It has everything you can need and more.

Cathy Collier

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