Posts Tagged ‘phonemic awareness activities’

Phonemic Awareness for Older Kids

Having recently reviewed Literary Resources LLC Bridge the Gap (Heggerty), I wanted to share my own approach to teaching phonemic awareness to older kids. My reading interventions provide a 5 minute daily phonemic awareness activity, designed for students ages 8-adult in reading intervention. Given that phonemic awareness is essential to decoding and that older students who struggle with reading generally lack this ability to hear and manipulate discrete speech sounds.

“There is no age where a student is ‘too old’ for phonemic awareness training‒if the skills have not been mastered, the student should get training” (Kilpatrick, David A., 2016, Equipped for Reading Success).

By providing an instructional alternative to the Heggerty program, I want to assure you that nothing is wrong with the Bridge the Gap program; however, it is an add-on instructional component. In contrast, the 5 minute phonemic awareness instruction is the first of 5 Daily Google Slide Activities in my two reading intervention programs and seamlessly integrates the focus phonemes into the second activity i.e., Blending, Segmenting, and Spelling. For example, if introducing the long /e/ sound-spellings in the second activity, the example words used, say in phoneme isolation, will include those long /e/ sounds. For my money, the more connected the program components, the better students master the instructional objectives. My integrated phonemic activities seem to apply the following recommendations to the letter:

According to Louisa Moats and Carol Tolman, “Instruction that enhances awareness of speech sounds is relevant for older students who are inattentive to the internal details of spoken words. These students may show all the symptoms listed for younger students, including poor spelling, inaccurate decoding of new words, mispronunciation of words, and difficulty remembering or recalling new words. Direct teaching with a vowel chart and a consonant chart is quite possible with students at fourth grade and up, and many can improve substantially in PA with structured practice” (Reading Rockets).

I provide two evidence-based reading intervention programs for older students: 1. Teaching Reading Strategies (Intervention Program) 2. The Science of Reading Intervention Program. The first is a comprehensive, full-year word recognition and language comprehension program (55 minutes per day). The second is the word recognition component of the first and can be implemented as a semester class (55 minutes) or a pull-out or early-late option for the whole year (30 minutes per day).

Both programs include the interactive 5 Daily Google Slide Activities (print copies also work just fine). Each of the 54 Google slide activities include practice Phonemic Awareness with phoneme isolation, addition, deletions, substitution, manipulation, segmentation, and reversals. The teacher completes 3 of these lessons per week (typically Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday). The teacher displays the slide for in-class instruction or shares the screen for ZOOM instruction, reads the slide information, and provides cues for unison responses. No prep required. Only teacher slides are provided for this activity. If you would like to preview the 5 Daily Google Slide Activities, including the phonemic awareness drills, check out this video.

Phonemic Awareness Activities

The Science of Reading Program Phonemic Awareness Activities

The first 6 lessons focus on phonological awareness, the alphabetic code, and the history of the English language. These lessons also include links to the Animal Chants YouTube videos. The Vowel Valley Animal Chant and the Consonant Sounds Animal Chant introduce students to the proper mouth positions and sound articulations for each of the English phonemes with catchy songs and rhymes. The rest of the lessons focus on the previous day’s sound-spellings, and so provide excellent review and practice with these phonemes.

These daily lessons are profitable for all ages 8-adult struggling readers. However, some of your students will require additional concentrated phonemic awareness instruction. Plus, if teaching a full-year reading intervention program, some of your students will have been assigned to your care later in the year and will not have had the benefit of the daily lessons. For these students, the diagnostic Phonemic Awareness Assessments (see below to receive a free download right in your mailbox) will produce the relevant data to determine what needs to be taught to whom, and just as importantly, what does not need to be taught to whom. The comprehensive Teaching Reading Strategies (Intervention Program) provides the individualized or small group instructional activities students need to master phonemic awareness.

Intervention Program Science of Reading

The Teaching Reading Strategies (Intervention Program) is designed for non-readers or below grade level readers ages eight–adult. This full-year, 55 minutes per day program provides both word recognition and language comprehension instructional resources (Google slides and print). Affordable, easy-to- teach, and science of reading-based, featuring the Sam and Friends Phonics Books–decodables designed for older students. The word recognition activities and decodables are also available as a half-year option in The Science of Reading Intervention Program.


Get the Phonemic Awareness Assessments FREE Resource:

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Phonemic Awareness Activities

Response to Intervention

Reading Intervention

Get ready for some terrific phonemic awareness activities… But first, let’s get clear on just what phonemic awareness is all about, why it is important, and how it relates to reading. Phonemic awareness is the basic understanding that spoken words are made up of individual speech sounds. We call these speech sounds phonemes. There are about 43 common phonemes in English. See my attached list, Phonemes, which includes adjustments for the Spanish phonemes in footnotes.

Why is phonemic awareness essential?Phonemic Awareness

Between 20 and 40% of the population does not naturally develop phonemic awareness. Research indicates that there may be both medical and genetic factors that contribute to this deficiency (Grossen, 1997).

When children cannot hear and manipulate the sounds (phonemes) in spoken words, they struggle learning how to attach these sounds to letters and letter combinations. Lack of phonemic awareness is the chief causal factor of reading disabilities (Adams, 1990). In fact, phonemic awareness is the best predictor of reading success (Goldstein, 1976; Zifcak, 1977; Stanovich, 1986, 1994).

Phonemic awareness relates to reading in two ways: (1) phonemic awareness is a prerequisite of learning to read (Juel, Griffith, & Gough, 1986; Yopp, 1985), and (2) phonemic awareness is a consequence of learning to read (Ehri, 1979; Read, Yun-Fei, Hong-Yin, & Bao-Qing, 1986).

Can phonemic awareness be remediated?

Yes, but the older the child, the more challenging it is to learn phonemic awareness. See my article titled Should We Teach Phonemic Awareness to Remedial Readers? on remediating phonemic awareness to check out the reading research and instructional solutions.

What about English-language Learners?

It’s true that specific speech sounds differ among languages, and this makes phonemic awareness and phonics acquisition more challenging for English-language Learners (ELs). However, EL students and English-language Development (ELD) students are certainly able to transfer their phonological awareness skills from their primary language to English, and research indicates the positive benefits of phonemic awareness training (Abbot, Quiroga, Lernos-Britton, Mostafapour, and Berninger, 2002). Indeed, some primary languages, such as Spanish, share more phonemes with English than not.

Phonemic Awareness Assessments

Not all students will have mastered the same components of phonemic awareness. Thus, diagnostic assessments are a must to efficiently teach these unmastered components. After completing phonemic awareness assessments, grade and record any unmastered phonemic awareness components for each student on a progress monitoring matrix. An excellent set of six whole-class phonemic awareness assessments with recording matrix is provided free for classroom use at

Phonemic Awareness Instructional Sequence and Workshop Activities

Differentiate instruction, according to the diagnostic data in small group reading workshops. There is an instructional order that makes sense. I suggest that you teach your phonemic awareness workshops in this order:

  1. Rhyming Awareness
  2. Alphabetic Awareness (Make sure to check out the Mp3 “New Alphabet Song” for both beginning and struggling readers found in the phonemic awareness activities packet.)
  3. Syllable Awareness and Syllable Manipulation
  4. Phonemic Isolation
  5. Phonemic Blending
  6. Phonemic Segmentation


Intervention Program Science of Reading

The Science of Reading Intervention Program

The Science of Reading Intervention Program: Word Recognition includes explicit, scripted instruction and practice with the 5 Daily Google Slide Activities every reading intervention student needs: 1. Phonemic Awareness and Morphology 2. Blending, Segmenting, and Spelling 3. Sounds and Spellings (including handwriting) 4. Heart Words Practice 5. Sam and Friends Phonics Books (decodables). Plus, digital and printable sound wall cards and speech articulation songs. Print versions are available for all activities. First Half of the Year Program (55 minutes-per-day, 18 weeks)

The Science of Reading Intervention Program: Language Comprehension resources are designed for students who have completed the word recognition program or have demonstrated basic mastery of the alphabetic code and can read with some degree of fluency. The program features the 5 Weekly Language Comprehension Activities: 1. Background Knowledge Mentor Texts 2. Academic Language, Greek and Latin Morphology, Figures of Speech, Connotations, Multiple Meaning Words 3. Syntax in Reading 4. Reading Comprehension Strategies 5. Literacy Knowledge (Narrative and Expository). Second Half of the Year Program (30 minutes-per-day, 18 weeks)

The Science of Reading Intervention Program: Assessment-based Instruction provides diagnostically-based “second chance” instructional resources. The program includes 13 comprehensive assessments and matching instructional resources to fill in the yet-to-be-mastered gaps in phonemic awareness, alphabetic awareness, phonics, fluency (with YouTube modeled readings), Heart Words and Phonics Games, spelling patterns, grammar, usage, and mechanics, syllabication and morphology, executive function shills. Second Half of the Year Program (25 minutes-per-day, 18 weeks)

The Science of Reading Intervention Program BUNDLE  includes all 3 program components for the comprehensive, state-of-the-art (and science) grades 4-adult full-year program. Scripted, easy-to-teach, no prep, no need for time-consuming (albeit valuable) LETRS training or O-G certification… Learn as you teach and get results NOW for your students. Print to speech with plenty of speech to print instructional components.

SCIENCE OF READING INTERVENTION PROGRAM RESOURCES HERE for detailed product description and sample lessons.

FREE DOWNLOADS TO ASSESS THE QUALITY OF PENNINGTON PUBLISHING RESOURCES: The SCRIP (Summarize, Connect, Re-think, Interpret, and Predict) Comprehension Strategies includes class posters, five lessons to introduce the strategies, and the SCRIP Comprehension Bookmarks.

FREE DOWNLOADS TO ASSESS THE QUALITY OF PENNINGTON PUBLISHING RESOURCES: The SCRIP (Summarize, Connect, Re-think, Interpret, and Predict) Comprehension Strategies includes class posters, five lessons to introduce the strategies, and the SCRIP Comprehension Bookmarks.

Get the SCRIP Comprehension Strategies FREE Resource:

Get the Diagnostic ELA and Reading Assessments FREE Resource:

Get the Phonemic Awareness Activities FREE Resource:

You may also want to check out the phonics materials and activities found in these articles: Phonics Games and in How to Teach Phonics.

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