What is phonemic awareness?

First of all, Phonemic awareness is not phonics. Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds-phonemes--in spoken words. Before children learn to read print, they need to become more aware of how the sounds in words work. They must understand that words are made up of speech sounds, or phonemes (the smallest parts of sound in a spoken word that make a difference in a word's meaning).

Why teach phonemic awareness?

Phonemic awareness improves students' word reading and comprehension. It also helps children learn to spell.

Examples of Phonemic Awareness Skills

    • Blending: What word am I trying to say? Nnnnn-oooo--t.
    • Segmentation (first sound isolation): What is the first sound in not?
    • Segmentation (last sound isolation): What is the last sound in not?
    • Segmentation (complete): What are all the sounds you hear in not?

How can I help my child with phonemic awareness?

Help your child think of a number of words that start with the /m/ or /ch/ sound, or other beginning sounds.

Make up silly sentences with words that begin with the same sound, such as "Nobody was nice to Nancy's neighbor".

Play simple rhyming or blending games with your child, such as taking turns coming up with words that rhyme (go – no) or blending simple words (/d/, /o/, /g/ = dog).

Read books with rhymes. Teach your child rhymes, short poems, and songs.

Practice the alphabet by pointing out letters wherever you see them and by reading alphabet books.

Consider using computer software that focuses on developing phonological and phonemic awareness skills. Many of these programs use colorful graphics and animation that keep young children engaged and motivated.

Apps that build phonemic awareness


Reading Raven

Rhyming Words


Phonics Awareness


Kinder Smarts