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Reading Room – September 2022

Welcome to the Reading Room, CES’ monthly tips and tricks article to help you improve your student’s reading through providing information, resources, and materials about the various components of Structured Literacy and the Science of Reading.

This month we will be exploring the component of phonological awareness.  Phonological awareness is a crucial skill for the acquisition of reading.  It is commonly the fundamental weakness found in struggling readers.  In fact, all students can benefit from phonological awareness activities, particularly in the early grades.  Older students who are struggling readers can benefit from strengthening these skills as well.  The activities for older students must be presented in an age-appropriate way.

What is PA?  It is the ability to hear individual words in sentences, the ability to hear individual syllables in words, and the ability to hear individual sounds in syllables and words. These skills are hierarchical in nature beginning at the word level moving to the sound level (phonemic awareness which is the most difficult).  PA begins with rhyming activities and moves up the hierarchy of difficulty to adding, deleting, and substituting phonemes in words and syllables.

Example Activities to address phonological awareness from the most simple to the most difficult:

Rhyme Providing –  Teacher – Say chip.  Teacher – What word rhymes with chip? Student – flip, clip, dip, etc.

Rhyme Categorization – Teacher – Holds up three pictures on individual index cards.  Teacher – has student name each one (hat, gate, hook).  Teacher –  Holds up a picture of a book. What is this? Student- book. Teacher- Which picture rhymes with book? Student – hook.

Sound Providing – Teacher – Say bread.  Student – bed.  Teacher – What sound do you hear at the beginning of bread? /b/.  Teacher – What is the last sound you hear in the word bed? Student – /d/.

Teacher  – What is the middle sound (vowel sound) you hear in the word bed? Student –  /e/.


Compound Words

Teacher – Say cup, say cake. What word do you have when you put them together?

Student – cupcake


Teacher – Say pub, say lic.  Put them together and what word do you have?

Student – public


Teacher – Say /sh/, /o/, /p/.  Put them together and what word do you have?

Student – shop

Segmentation  – Counting


Teacher – Repeat this sentence. The big brown dog ran.  How many words are in this sentence?

Student –  5


Teacher  – Say fantastic.  How many syllables are in the word fantastic?

Student – 3


Teacher  – Say clamp.  How many sounds are in the word clamp?

Student – 5

Segmentation – Deletion

Compound Words

Teacher  – Say baseball.  Say baseball again but don’t say base. 

Student – ball


Teacher  – Say pumpkin. Say pumpkin again but don’t say kin.

Student – pump


Teacher  – Say slip. Say slip again but don’t say /l/. 

Student – sip

Segmentation – Substitution


Teacher  – Say football.  Say football again but instead of foot say base.

Student – baseball


Teacher  – Say clip.  Say clip again but instead of /k/, say /s/. 

Student – slip (initial)

Teacher – Say not.  Say not again but instead of /t/, say /b/. 

Student – nob (final)

Teacher  – Say red. Say red again but instead of /e/, say /i/. 

Student – rid (medial)

In addition to these activities here are some resources some of which are free and  some of which you might want to purchase.

University of Florida Literacy Institute Virtual Teaching Hub – free resources.

Heggerty Phonemic Awareness Pre K

Heggerty Phonemic Awareness K

Primary – Grades 1 & 1

Primary Extension – Grades 3, 4, 5

Bridge the Gap – for all learners (especially good older students who have phonemic awareness deficits)


Equipped for Reading Success – David Kilpatrick.  Incredible resource for PA activities as well as orthographic mapping activities and many others.

For questions, please contact:

Chris Fox – cfox@ces.org, Jessica Powell – jpowell@ces.org