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The phonological awareness continuum refers to the general advancement of instruction and learning in the sounds of language, moving from alliteration and rhyming through segmenting sentences, syllables, onset and rime. Instruction and learning typically begin in the home with simple songs, nursery rhymes, and word play, and advance through first grade as children manipulate phonemes to decode and create words.

Alliteration refers to recognizing and producing words that have the same beginning sound. Examples of instructional activities for alliteration include:

  • Stories, rhymes, or songs with alliteration; taking time to identify and build on the sound
  • Which word does not start with the same sound: tap, toe, run, time?
  • Chip, church, chop–can you think of other words that start with the /ch/ sound?
  • How many words can we say that start with the /p/ sound?

Rhyming refers to recognizing and producing words that have the same ending sounds. Examples of instructional activities for alliteration include:

  • Stories and songs with rhyming; taking time to identify and build on the rhyme
  • Which pair of words rhyme: snout and pout or nose and nice?
  • Which word does not rhyme: play, say, clay, clap?
  • Kite, might, sight–can you think of another rhyming word?
  • How many words can we say that rhyme with hood?

Segmenting sentences refers to being able to separate a sentence into words. Examples of instructional activities for segmenting include:

  • The cat ran up the tree. What was the first (last) word in the sentence?
  • The cat ran up the tree. Let’s clap for each word: The…cat…ran…up…the…tree.
  • How many words in this sentence: The cat ran up the tree.
  • What is the second (third, fourth, etc.) word in this sentence: The cat ran up the tree.
  • The can ran up the tree. Which place was “ran”?

Syllables refer to blending or segmenting syllables into words. Examples of instructional activities for syllables include:

  • What word has these syllables: mag  net?
  • Clapping the syllables of words.
  • How many syllables in library?
  • What are the syllables in magazine?

Onset and rime refers to blending or segmenting words by the initial consonant or consonant cluster and the vowel and consonant after the initial sound. Examples of instructional activities for onset and rime include:

  • If I say “mmm” and “ice”, what word does it make when we blend them together?
  • Let’s take off the “mmm” off and add /r/ instead. Now what word do we have, /r/ and “ice”?
  • Listen to the word rice. What is the first sound? What is the rest of the word?
  • Mice and rice both end the same way, “ice.” What other beginnings can we add to make words?

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Phonological Awareness Planning Guide

Resources

  • Chard, D. (1999). Phonological Awareness: Instructional and Assessment Guidelines. Intervention in School & Clinic, 34(5), 261. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.
  • Children’s Learning Institute Website
  • Opitz, M. (2000). Rhymes and Reasons: Literature & Language Play for Phonological Awareness. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
  • Morrow, L. (2009). Literacy Development in the Early Years Helping Children Read and Write (6th Edition). Boston, MA: Pearson