What is Phonemic Awareness?

There are a lot of different definitions and explanations about what phonemic awareness is.  We define it as the ability to hear and manipulate the individual sounds in words that are spoken.  Children need the understanding that words are made up of sounds.  The individual sounds are called phonemes.  Hence the name .  .  . phonemic awareness.  Understand that this is about spoken words, it is auditory and does not involve written words.  Therefore, phonemic awareness activities can be done in the dark.

phonemic awareness activities

Phonemic Awareness vs Phonological Awareness

Phonemic awareness is a part of phonological awareness.  These terms are often used interchangeably.  Phonemic awareness is under the umbrella of phonological awareness. That is why our Phonemic Awareness Activities satisfy most of the CCSS Phonological Awareness standards. 


Phonemic Awareness in Kindergarten

Having the ability to hear and manipulate individual sounds in spoken words is an important pre-reading skill. There is a strong correlation between a student’s phonemic awareness and their success in learning to read.  Most kindergartners come to school with some phonemic awareness.  Some can rhyme, some can hear and isolate beginning sounds.  However, usually their knowledge is incomplete. Therefore, phonemic awareness skills must be taught in a thoughtful and strategic way.  It is often intentionally taught during the reading skills block, with lessons building upon each other.  The lessons are usually very quick and engaging.


It is also woven throughout many other kindergarten activities.  For example, every time a Dr. Seuss’ book is read, and the class is listening for rhyming words, phonemic awareness is being taught.  Every time a teacher demonstrates how to stretch out a word during interactive writing, phonemic awareness is being taught. 

Activities for Kindergarten

4 Kinder Teachers has put together some fun, fast activities for phonemic awareness instruction.  These activities ensure that all children become phonemically aware.  These lessons are no prep and easy to implement. They are fast-paced and will only take a few minutes.  There are 81 lessons in all: 26 alphabet and 55 weekly activities.  See below for more details.


Alphabet Phonemic Awareness Activities

We have letter specific activities that have been created for use when focusing on one primary letter.  They can be used when introducing or reviewing a letter.  If you are using our Alphabet Animals Reading Skills Curriculum, we recommend doing these activities the first 26 days in conjunction with Rainbow Writing Letters A-Z.  You could also use these activities immediately after you introduce a new letter.


Example Lesson

  • The teacher begins the lesson by saying, “We’ve been studying the letter c.  C says /c/.  Can everybody say that sound /c/ /c/ /c/?” Students make the /c/ sound.  
  • The Teacher replies, “Very good!  Now we’re going to play a game.  I’m going to say a word and if it starts with /c/, you’ll make jazz hands.  For example, If I say cat, you make jazz hands.  Show me your jazz hands.” Students make jazz hands. 
  • The teacher continues, “Great! This is a fast game, so you need to listen carefully.”  The teacher proceeds by saying each word and waiting for the students to respond.  
  • After finishing the list of words, the teacher completes the lesson with the following: “Great job!  Were there any tricky words?  Can you think of a word that begins with /c/?  Turn and tell a neighbor.” Students share a word that begins with /c/.

Weekly Phonemic Awareness Activities

We suggest these activities be used after the alphabet activities. They are also fast-paced and will only take a few minutes.  These activities include rhyming, initial sound comparison, manipulating phonemes, segmenting words into phonemes, and more.  They follow the same format.

  • First, the teacher explains the directions (which can be found before each activity).
  • Next, the teacher models the example.
  • Then the students do the activity.
  • Finally, the teacher reinforces the appropriate response.

Example Lesson

  • The teacher explains the directions, “I’m going to say two words, if the words begin with the same sound do a thumbs up.  Listen carefully”. 
  • The teacher models the example,“cat, cup”.  Both the  teacher and the students do a thumbs up.  
  • Students do the activity. Teacher says, “Now it’s your turn.  Listen carefully: fun, fan.”  The students do a thumbs up. 
  • The teacher reinforces the appropriate response by putting her thumbs up and explaining, “Fun and fan start with the same sound /f/”.  

More From 4 Kinder Teachers

Start your school year off right with Alphabet Animals Phonemic Awareness Activities.  You can do these lessons alone or in conjunction with our Alphabet Animals Reading Skills Curriculum.  It is a yearlong, reading skills curriculum that covers the standards, includes strategies for differentiation, and is fun and engaging for your students. Please visit our TpT store 4 Kinder Teachers to see all our products.    

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Hi, we're Jackie, LeighAnn and Jessica

We are a team of kindergarten teachers turned educational consultants.  We help teachers like you with:

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