Tag Archives: phonological awareness

Expanding a child’s phonological awareness through games

block fun

In the process of emerging literacy and learning to read, children will need to conquer phonemic awareness, a part of phonological awareness. While the two are related, there’s a difference that should be understood before parents step into a conference with a reading specialist or teacher:

phonemic awareness: the ability to hear and identify the individual sounds in spoken words

phonological awareness: the understanding that spoken language is made up of individual and separate sounds.


At the youngest of ages, we work with children on enunciation and sounds. Parents make sounds, encouraging children to mimic, then, as children work out using words, parents and friends help with enunciation. This is a beginning stage of phonological awareness.

As children approach pre-elementary age, they begin to identify sounds associated with words and language, which helps them in the earliest stages of reading. To help pre-kindergarten and kindergarten-aged learners, there are several learning games to play.

Rhyming Circle

Start with any word and go around a circle, rhyming. Example:

Person 1: look
Person 2: book
Person 3: nook

It’s acceptable to create words when playing a game like this, in this situation a even though stook is not a word, the game can go on. An alternative to this game is to use a ball and pass it to a friend who’s turn it is to rhyme. Pass hot potato style around a circle, or toss across the circle from friend to friend.

Alliteration circle

Just like the rhyming game, above, play with alliteration. (this is often much more difficult than rhyming). This time, it’s the last part of the word that changes: green, gram, grill, great, etc.

Letter tiles: Making Words

Letter tile games like Bananagrams are great for playing for teaching children to association sounds with letters (which is a part of phonics). Spell a word with letter tiles, then replace some letters to make a new word. GAME becomes GAVE becomes GIVE becomes HIVE become HAVE, etc.

Another game to play with letter tiles, for older learners, is Making Words. Start with a large word, or your child’s name. For example, spell the word dinosaur, with letter tiles. We discover all the words you canmake from the word dinosaur, including sour, soar, no, or, our, in, as, etc.

There are many ways to adapt these games, and so many more games to teach children the basics of phonological awareness and to enhance their skills.


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What You Can Do with Rusty and Rosy’s 5 Strands of Reading

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You know that Rusty and Rosy Readingä is a computer software program that teaches your child reading skills. Bud do you know what those skills are and what you can do to help promote offline what your child learns online?

In technical terms, Rusty and Rosy Reading is arranged into five instructional strands. As your child works through the program, he or she will receive instruction and practice in all three. The type of instruction your child receives (learning nouns and verbs vs. homophones) will depend on your child’s level in the program.

Just so you’re aware, the five strands are

Phonological Awareness: Teaches how to hear, distinguish, and manipulate sounds in spoken words.

Phonics: Teaches alphabet recognition, letter-sound correspondences, word recognition, and decoding skills.

Comprehension and Vocabulary: Teaches word meanings explicitly and implicitly and strategies for deriving meaning from text.

Language Concepts: Teaches print concepts, grammar, mechanics of written and spoken language, reading readiness skills, and writing.

Fluency: Teaches how to read text accurately and quickly with appropriate expression.

Now, here are just a few ways you can have your child practice the skills they learn from Rusty and Rosy:

Phonological Awareness

Play rhyming games with your child. Say a word and have your child think of words that rhyme.


Read while you shop. When you are at the store and pick up a block of cheese, show your child the word cheese on the package and sound out each letter while pointing to the letters. For readers, you can have your child spell the words as you fill each item on your grocery list.

Comprehension and Vocabulary

Just as Sesame Street has the letter of the day, you can have a word of the day.

Also read books together and ask questions about the story when you are finished.

Language Concepts

When telling a story to your child, help your child identify the different punctuation marks: period, question mark, and exclamation mark.


This is a skill for your second-grader or more advanced reader. For this one, you can have your child read aloud and practice inflection and pacing.

Do you and your child do reading activities like these? We’d love to hear what you do.