Family Math Night

Phonemic Awareness

(Grade K)

What is it?

Phonemic awareness is a student’s ability to hear, identify and manipulate the individual sounds in spoken words. This is an oral language skill in which no print is involved. One way to think about phonemic awareness is that it can be done in the dark.


cat= /c/ /a/ /t/ (I hear three sounds in cat)

ship= /sh/ /i/ /p/ (I hear three sounds in ship)

clock= /c/ /l/ /o/ /k/ (Even though there are 5 letters, there are only four sounds in clock)

Why is it important?

Phonemic awareness provides the foundation for phonics learning. When a child recognizes individual sounds (phonemes) in a spoken word, he or she is better prepared for early decoding (reading) and encoding (writing) activities.

How can you support your child at home?

  • Beginning/Ending Sounds: Ask your child to isolate the first or last sound of a word (i.e. What is the first/last sound you hear in “cat”?)
  • Beginning Sounds “Soup Game”: Tell your child, “Let’s pretend we are making a pot of soup and everything we put in the soup must begin with the letter “P” Take turns coming up with words that begin with /p/. (i.e. potatoes, pickles, pasta). Students are welcome to provide “silly” words (i.e. pots, purple, pigs) to make it fun
  • Body Tapping: This is a version of Head/Shoulders/Knees and Toes. Choose a word with three sounds (big). Say each sound separately. Have your child touch his head when saying the first sound /b/, touch his waist when saying the second sound /i/, and touch his toes when saying the last sound /g/. When your child can do this activity easily without assistance, say one of the sounds separately and ask your child to place his hands on the head, waist, or toes to show if the sound comes at the beginning, middle (vowel) or end.