What is phonological awareness? What is phonemic awareness? Learn how to help your students develop these important skills – and download a free cheat sheet!
If you teach children ages 3-6, you’ve heard the terms phonological awareness and phonemic awareness. Whether or not children have them is a strong predictor of reading success.
But what are they, exactly? And what activities will help your students develop them?
Today I’ll be sharing definitions of these important terms. I’ll also provide links to free activities to help develop them.
And if you scroll to the end of the post, you can print a free cheat sheet with even more ways to teach phonological and phonemic awareness – no printer ink necessary!
What is phonological awareness?
When children have phonological awareness, they know that language is made of words, syllables, rhymes, and sounds.
Are phonological awareness and phonics the same thing?
Phonological awareness is different than phonics because it’s about sounds and not letters. Children can develop phonological awareness with their eyes closed.
Phonological awareness includes:
- understanding of word
- rhyming ability
- understanding syllables
- phonemic awareness
Let’s break each of these down.
1. Children understand concept of word when they can recognize how many words are in a sentence.
Develop concept of word by inviting students to clap for each each word they hear.
2. Children understand rhyming when they can identify rhyming words and generate their own rhymes.
Develop rhyming by playing rhyming games, reading rhyming books, singing songs that rhyme, and learning nursery rhymes.
Free printables to teach rhyming
- Rhyming clip cards
- Rhyming letter books
- Rhyming pack
- Rhyming matching game
- Rhyming bingo
- Rhyming bingo (easier version)
- Dot the rhyming word
- Folding rhyming books
3. Children understand syllables when they can clap or count the syllables in a word and blend syllables together to make a word.
Develop the understanding of syllables by teaching children to clap the parts of a word. Ba-na-na. Also challenge your students by saying a word slowly, by syllable. Ask them to put the syllables together to make the word.
What is phonemic awareness?
Phonemic awareness and phonological awareness are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. Phonemic awareness is one component of phonological awareness, and a very important one. When children have phonemic awareness, they know how to segment, blend, or manipulate individual sounds in words.
Children have phonemic awareness when they can identifying beginning sounds in words, blend sounds together to make a word, and count the individual sounds within a word.
Develop phonemic awareness by playing games with words and teaching children to identify individual sounds in words.
Get more activities !
Want simple, no-ink-required activities to develop phonemic and phonological awareness? Grab the free download below!
Get your free printable!
BUILD A STRONG READING FOUNDATION
Phonemic Awareness Games & Activities
The research is in! Children with a strong foundation of phonemic awareness become better readers. Our bundle is your one-stop shop for teaching all levels of this important skill.
Me and my parents have no words to express your generosity!!! We love you!!!!!
Preschool and kindergarten teacher
I am having trouble downloading the cheat sheet for phonelogical awareness. I have tried chrome too. Could you help please?
This is Kate, Anna’s assistant. I just downloaded it myself to make sure it works. I’m using Safari. I clicked on the red bar that says, “SIGN ME UP!” Then I was given a chance to enter my email address (the one I already use on this website). I entered it and the file immediately opened up for me. In entering my email address, I signed up for a free series of informational emails, to which I can unsubscribe if I choose. Please try this and see if it works!
Thanks for explaining this in such an easy way. Can you start these skills with a three year old? If yes what should be the main focus on – rhyming ? Will you do a post detailing which age group should do whthe can skills? It would be so helpful . Thank you again . Waiting for your reply.
Yes, for sure with a 3 year old! I like to start with rhyming and move on to syllables and then isolating beginning sounds. I wouldn’t say that you can exactly line them up to specific ages, because it depends on the child.
Thank you soooooo much, Anna! They are so helpful for my kindergarten and ESL children, we do enjoy and love the worksheets you are sharing. 🙂
You’re very welcome, Schuirrel!
I am using Chrome on my Android phone and I do not see a link for the cheat sheet. I see the links to download the 18 activities but no cheatsheet.
I’m sorry for the issue, Lisa, and don’t know why it’s not working on your phone. I’d try it on a desktop or laptop and see if you have the same issue.
Thank you for all the freebies that you are willing to share. I am using Google Chrome and I am able to get everything but the freebie on Phonological and Phonemic Awareness cheat sheet. Any suggestions?
I’m so sorry for taking so long to answer your comment, Ashley! My inbox got backed up. I don’t know why this isn’t working for you. I work through a third party called Leadpages. Maybe they were having a bug? Let me know if it still won’t work.
I am really bless to have found you ladies. I am learning soo much and i am enjoying imparting my knowledge to emergent readings.
Thank you and may God continue to bless you abundantly.
Thank you so much, Yvette!
You are awesome! Thanks!
Thank you, Laura! 🙂
Thank you!!! These freebies are wonderfully complete!
You’re very welcome, Clara!
Thank you for all the wonderful sheets you share. I am a Grandmother helping a dear little boy lost in the school system and your work sheets keep me up to date with what and how to help him.
I’m so glad my materials are useful for you, Maggie!
I just read that someone else had the problem. I am using Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge. I enter the information in the box for the cheat sheet. When I click the red box for “yes, I want it,” nothing happens. The box just freezes.
Did you mean that you ARE using Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge? Definitely try a different browser such as Chrome or Firefox.
The link to print out the cheat sheet for the phonemic and phonological awareness isn’t working for me.
What browser are you using?
Questions about phonological awareness. I must confess. I have been focusing primarily on letter knowledge, and to some extent rhyming. I know realize I need to spend more time on onset-rhyme as well as alliteration. Is there a daily routine that would encompass all of this?
That’s a great question, Doreen! At this point I do not have a particular routine that I recommend on my site, but I’m sure that most commercial programs have a recommended sequence or routine. The important thing is to adjust it as needed to fit the needs of your learners.
Excellent hand on activities. Loved them
Thank you, Olga!
Apologies for not proof reading !!!
Hi Anna 🙂
Just wanting to ask you a quick question as I’ve been thinking about it here…I’m just a little bit worried about the potential for confusion between phonemes and syllables when it comes to teaching them to new 5 year olds. I basically engage the children using a long stretchy snake to say the phonemes and work on the sounds we hear that way. I’m just a bit worried about the syllables aspect and how to being it all together if I do both. Incidentally, I’ve got kiddies who arrive with very little pre school experience and quite often don’t speak in full sentences or the proper articulation. Thank you for any insight you can gives me.
This is a great question! I think that in terms of complexity, clapping syllables is easier than identifying phonemes. So if you are looking for a teaching order, start with syllables. That said, I know that you many need to teach both at different points in your day and not in a particular sequence. I think it’s good to remember that kids don’t need to know the words syllables or phonemes. They don’t need to be able to label what they’re doing: breaking words into syllables or phonemes. Maybe you could use vocabulary that they can identify. When doing syllables, you could say, “Let’s clap all the BIG parts of a word.” When doing phonemes, you could say, “Let’s stretch out the word to hear all the little pieces.” Does that help?
Love the wording of that – big parts, little parts!
I love your resources and advice!
Thank you so much, Cori!
Thank you so much for sharing Anna!
You’re very welcome, Kusum!
Would you be able to email the cheat sheet for phonological and phonemic awareness? The link doe not work to click it. Thanks for all your help!
You need to click the link, and then a box pops up to enter your email information. After you do that, the free download will pop up. What part isn’t working for you? And what browser are you using?
I clicked on the red box next to the small example of the cheat sheet and no box pops up to even enter my email address. What else can I do to get this?
What browser and device are you using? I am using Google Chrome on a Mac and also Safari on my iPhone. Both of those worked for me. Over 700 people have downloaded it, so I know it’s working for some.
Thanks for directing me to the correct browser. Chrome worked.
How do you get cheat sheet? I was also hoping to get the 18 no prep activities but it redirects you to sign up for something.
Thanks for any help. Love your stuff.
You just click on the link, add your email address, and it will pop right up. The email list is for our emails about teaching reading in K-2. I send out emails for that once a week. If you don’t want to be part of the group you can unsubscribe when you receive the first one.
I have just read your blog about “What are phonological and phonemic awareness? “ and was hoping to download the cheat sheet, but the link doesn’t seem to work. I have gone on to your website, I have used google chrome, and when I try to click on the link I can’t even ‘save it as’ as the link doesn’t seem to be there to do it. Please help. I love all the work you do, and really would like this particular sheet.
Hi Petra – I’m sorry, I don’t know what the issue would be if you’ve tried all my tips. What browser are you using, and what device is it?
Hi, Anna. thanks a lot for sharing your teaching ideas and free printables, it really helped me a lot. I just finished reading “What are phonological and phonemic awareness? “, I do have some confusions. I am confused that for kids who are learning english as second language, without development of phonological and phonemic awareness, what will cause. hoping to reveive your reply.
Hello! I don’t have a lot of experience with ESL children, but these bloggers might be able to help you out:
Becky at http://kidworldcitizen.org/
Rachel at http://amotherfarfromhome.com/
Vanessa at http://www.pre-kpages.com/
Mary Anne at http://www.mamasmiles.com/
Thank for these bloggers. Looking forward to checking them out.
As a Kindergarten teacher for 13 years and with my Masters in Teaching English as a Second Language, I understand that the way we teach all early learners, especially in preschool and Kindergarten, are the same! There is always a lot of repetition and lots of practice. Please remember to do activities that are for every kind of learner! Also, if a child is struggling, find a way to move and learn at the same time. Total Physical Response is a great strategy to use! Good luck with your English Language Learners!