Phonological awareness activities for home
Phonological awareness refers to a set of skills that underpin speech, vocabulary and literacy development.
Children need to be able to hear, identify and manipulate individual sounds in spoken words. You can try the following activities at home to help develop your child’s phonological awareness skills:
- sit opposite your child so they can see your mouth moving
- sing nursery rhymes together
- make it fun by using gesture and an excited voice
- clap, stamp and march in time with the nursery rhymes so your child can feel the rhythm
- overemphasise the rhyming words
- sing the nursery rhymes together but leave out the last rhyming word, for example, ‘Jack and Jill went up the hi…’
- use rhyming books to help develop your child’s understanding of rhyme
- read rhyming books and overemphasise the rhyming words
- when your child is familiar with the book, see if your child can guess the rhyming word, for example, ‘cat in the ha…’, ‘sat on the ma…’
- place pictures of rhyming pairs on the table
- support your child to find 2 pictures that rhyme
- praise your child if they find a rhyming pair
Draw attention to the final vowel and end sound (instead of just the end sound). The vowel is important in determining whether a word rhymes. For example, ‘cat’ and ‘hat’ rhyme but ‘cat’ and ‘hut’ do not rhyme. Help your child by telling them which words rhyme and which words don’t.
Treasure hunt and sound walk
- talk about objects in your environment when you are out walking with your child
- clap the number of syllables in objects you see or people you meet, for example, cat (1 syllable), trac-tor (2 syllables) and Steph-a-nie (3 syllables)
- try stamping your feet to make it more exciting
I Spy Games
- sing nursery rhymes and talk about words that rhyme
- listen to everyday sounds such as traffic, birdsong, animal noises (guess the animal)
- clap syllables for objects or characters in the book, for example, ‘Gruf-fa-lo’, ‘pep-per’
- think of a word and jump up and down to match the syllables
Sort it out
- present your child with a variety of 1 to 4 syllable pictures – 2 syllable words are often easier so start with these if your child is struggling
- support your child to clap the number of syllables and sort the pictures into the correct pile, for example, ‘bus’, and ‘pen’ go into the 1 syllable word pile, ‘lap-top’ and ‘pen-cil’ into the 2 syllable word pile, and so on
Word sharing is an activity to try when your child is successful at identifying 2 syllable words consistently. The idea is to ‘share’ the word.
- you say 1 syllable and your child says the other, for example, with ‘rabbit’ you say ‘ra…’ and let your child finish with ‘…bbit’ and with ‘dragon’ you say ‘dra…’ and let your child finish with ‘…gon’
- your child may struggle and say the whole word so support them by prompting to remember to ‘keep’ their own part and to share the word, “oh no you stole my part, let’s try again!”
Support your child to identify the first sound of each syllable. For example, ‘ba-na-na’, or ‘com-pu-ter’.
Odd 1 out
- present your child with 3 pictures
- 1 picture should have a sound that is different to the other 2, for example, ‘peg’, ‘park’ and ‘sun’
- help your child to identify the picture that starts with a different sound
Sort it out
- give your child a range of pictures
- say the words to your child
- help your child sort the pictures into piles that begin / end with the same sound, for example ‘how many things can you find that begin with the letter ‘s’?
- choose a sound to focus on
- go on a walk around the house
- help your child to find objects that contain the target sound, for example, if the sound is ‘s’, then you could collect a sock, spoon, and soap
- you could also include words with ‘s’ in the middle (dinosaur, whistle) or words with ‘s’ at the end (bus, dress, dice etc)
Additional resources and information
This video is part of the Weekend Words series. It explains and demonstrates syllable clapping and shows a Speech and Language Therapist working at home with her daughter.
For more information please contact the Speech and Language Therapy Service at Flockton House on 0114 226 2333.
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Please note this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s. The details in this resource may not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If you have specific questions about how this resource relates to your child, please ask your doctor.