Elementary Literacy Support

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Phonemic Awareness

What is phonemic awareness? Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate sounds in spoken words. It’s an auditory skill, which does not involve words in print and is best taught in kindergarten and first grade.


Why is phonemic awareness important? "One of the most compelling and well-established findings in the research on beginning reading is the important relationship between phonemic awareness and reading acquisition." (Kame'enui, et. al., 1997)

“The best predictor of reading difficulty in kindergarten or first grade is the inability to segment words and syllables into constituent sound units (phonemic awareness)" (Lyon, 1995) University of Oregon Web site: (http://reading.uoregon.edu/big_ideas/pa/pa_what.php)


How can we help students improve their phonemic awareness? Teach explicit, systematic phonemic awareness lessons.  Begin phonics lessons with phonemic awareness activities that activate and warm up the brain’s phonological processor. Examples of phonemic awareness activities include:

  • Blending – “Put these sounds together - /c/ /a/ /t/. What word do they make?”
  • Segmenting – “What three sounds do you hear in the word cat?”
  • Manipulating – “Change the last sound in cat to /p/.  What’s the new word?”


Houghton Mifflin Resources

  • Teacher Edition – phonemic awareness lessons
  • Kindergarten Alpha Friends
  • English Language Learners Handbook
  • Extra Support Handbook


Information and Intervention Ideas


Professional Books

This book is available in most ASD elementary school professional libraries:


Rhymes and Reasons: Literature and Language Play  by Michael Opitz
Book Description at Heinemann Publishers


* A link to book publishers is provided here in order to read a description of the text; however ASD does not specifically endorse these publishers.