Onset- rime segmentation

This level of phonological awareness is typically more difficult than syllable level awareness but easier than phoneme-level awareness. The onset is the consonant or consonant cluster within a syllable that comes before the vowel. The rime is the part of the syllable that contains the vowel and any remaining consonants.

Onset- rime segmentation usually precedes phonemic awareness. Pre-schoolers will generally identify onsets as single units and will state that ‘spoon’ begins with /sp/, and ‘flat’ begins with /fl/. The /sp/ and /fl/ are of course made up of two phonemes each and children will need to eventually break these into their individual phonemes for accurate reading and spelling to develop. Single onset words, such as cat, big, and sun, give children an opportunity to isolate beginning phonemes more easily.

To produce a rhyming word you simply change the onset of a word to make hat, cat and mat. Identifying onsets involves asking the child, “What’s the odd word in grape, grow and pin?” and segmenting onsets involves “Can you tell me the first sound in bike and bag?”

Identifying rimes can be done by playing games where children are asked, “Which words sound the same at the end, man and pan, or sit and pat?” and  segmenting the onset by asking, “Can you tell me the how pin and fin are the same?” In the very early stages, these should be games involving spoken word and pictures only.

Onset / rime units – break cup into two parts, c-up

Later, when phonics is introduced, children will need to be able to break the rime -up (as in c-up), into its constituent phonemes, /u/ and /p/ in order to read and spell effectively.