Phonological awareness is a critical early literacy skill that helps kids recognize and work with the sounds of spoken language.
Phonological awareness is made up of a group of skills. Examples include being able to identify words that rhyme, counting the number of syllables in a name, recognizing alliteration, segmenting a sentence into words, and identifying the syllables in a word. The most sophisticated — and last to develop — is called phonemic awareness.
Phonemic awareness is the ability to notice, think about, and work with the individual sounds (phonemes) in spoken words.
Manipulating the sounds in words includes blending, stretching, or otherwise changing words. Children can demonstrate phonemic awareness in several ways, including:
recognizing which words in a set of words begin with the same sound
(“Bell, bike, and boy all have /b/ at the beginning.”)
isolating and saying the first or last sound in a word
(“The beginning sound of dog is /d/.” “The ending sound of sit is /t/.”)
combining, or blending the separate sounds in a word to say the word
(“/m/, /a/, /p/ – map.”)
breaking, or segmenting a word into its separate sounds
(“up – /u/, /p/.”)
This diagram explains the relationship between phonological awareness and phonemic awareness:
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