Phonemic Awareness Activities for 4-5-6 Year Olds

Research has shown repeatedly that phonemic awareness is a powerful predictor of success in learning to read. (Reading Program Advisory: Teaching Reading pp. 4-5)

Phonemic Awareness is more highly related to reading than are tests of general intelligence.(Stanovich, 1996)

What is it?

In Irvine Unified School District, support for phonemic awareness development occurs in Kindergarten
and first grade and includes the abilities to:

Guidelines for Use of Following Activities

Attached you will find a "developmental" list of activities to reinforce what is happening in your child's classroom. We hope this is a positive and fun one-on-one time with your child.

These activities are intended to be done orally and for short periods of time (5-7 min.) repeatedly in every day life. Examples: in the car, in the bath, waiting for appointments,

car wash, in line, etc...

Listening Awareness

Have child close eyes and listen for three sounds you make.

Ex: Parent claps hands, snaps fingers, and stomps feet.

Child opens eyes.

Parent says, "First you heard ______.

In the middle you heard_____. And last you heard ______."

Child fills in blank.

Continue listening game using the following:

  • animal sounds (moo, oink, quack)
  • color words
  • familiar items (tree, grass, truck)
  • letters of alphabet
  • sounds of alphabet "b-a-t"

Rhyming Awareness

Read and teach your child Mother Goose's Nursery Rhymes

Substitute rhyming words.

Ex: Hickory, dickory, dock

The mouse ran up the clock.

Child changes clock to a rhyming word such as "sock".

Continue above substitute rhyming with multiple nursery rhymes and Dr. Seuss books, and any other rhymes/songs your family knows. (See attached book list for book ideas.)

Word and Syllable Awareness

Play ‘Word Clap’. Parent says "Sailboat."

Child says (while clapping), "Sail…boat" (claps two times for the two parts)

Sample Words:

playground sandbox crayons chair friend classroom
paint paper kitchen bedroom bathroom computer

If your child has mastered 2 syllable (part) words, try 3 syllables.

Play ‘What’s the Word’ Game

This time parent says a word in parts and the child repeats the entire word.


Parent: ""

Child: "dinosaur"

Parent: ""

Child: "alphabet"

Parent: "tel…e…vi…sion"

Child: "television"

Again, you can make this more difficult with words with more syllables when your child is ready.

Word Family Awareness

Choose a word family to practice.

Parent says, "C….at. What’s the word?"

Child says, "Cat."

Continue with the same word family to reinforce rhyming, vowel patterns and sound blending.


at an it en ot ake ane ole
cat ran bit hen dot cake plane sole
sat fan hit pen cot sake cane whole
bat man sit ten tot rake lane mole
fat clan fit men lot make mane pole

Table of Consonants, Vowels, & Word Families



b d f g h j k l m n p q r s t v w x z


a e i o u sometimes y

Short Vowel sounds:

a e i o u
cat pen it top cup

Long Vowels say their own names:

Long "a" "e" "i" "o" "u"
cake me tie no cute
say meet wife poke hue
train eat night boat cue

Nearly 500 rhymes can be derived from the following 37 rhymes:

ack ain ake ale all ame
–an –ank –ap –ash –at –ate
–aw –ay –eat –ell –est –ice
–ick –ide –ight –ill –in –ine
–ing –ink –ip –ir –ock –oke
–op –or –ore –uck –ug –ump