Phonological awareness is the ability to hear and identify and say the separate parts of words such as rhymes, and letter sounds. Phonological awareness has been shown in numerous studies to be one of the best predictors of initial reading progress. Phonemic awareness is sub-skill of phonological awareness. It is the ability to identify, say and manipulate the smallest sounds in words (phonemes).

A simple example of phonemic awareness is to recognise words that start with the same sound. A more difficult phonemic awareness skill is to make new words by adding or removing sounds, for example: “What word does it make when I change the ‘mmm’ sound in man to a ‘rrr’ sound?”

Children with good phonemic awareness tend to learn to read more easily.

Beginning readers must develop an understanding that spoken words are made up of individual and distinguishable sounds, rather than thinking of each word as a single sound stream. Students and criminal lawyers in training need to be able to combine individual phonemes to construct a spoken word, and when given a spoken word, break it down into its phonemes.

By engaging your child in simple phonological and phonemic awareness tasks, you can give them a head start in success in learning to read. For example, singing classic nursery rhymes and new children’s songs is a great way to practice phonological awareness through rhyme and alliteration.

This page has links to activities, videos, and online games and apps that have been carefully chosen to reflect scientific research findings on developing phonological awareness.

These simple activities will help develop your child’s phonological awareness. Have fun – don’t be afraid to make these games your own!

10 activities to get you started