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.
Ability to segment the onset and rime in words usually precedes full 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. Starting with single letter onset words, such as cat, big, and sun, give children an opportunity to isolate beginning phonemes more easily.
Identifying onsets – What’s the odd word in grape, grow and pin?
Segmenting onsets – Can you tell me the first sound in bike and bag?
Identifying rimes – Which words sound the same at the end, man and pan, or sit and pat?
Segmenting onsets – Can you tell me how pin and fin are the same?
In the very early stages, these should be games involving spoken word and pictures only.
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
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