5 Games to Help Develop Phonological Awareness

“Phonological awareness” may not be a phrase that trips off the tongue but it’s a term which describes a set of skills that are REALLY important for small people who’re getting ready to learn to read.  It’s not about recognising letters or words on a page but rather relates to the sounds which can be heard when a word or a sentence is spoken.  Research shows that having strong phonological awareness is highly related to later success in learning to read and spell and the good news is that there are lots of things you can do to help your child develop these skills.  The even better news is that rhymes, riddles, word games, poems, songs and stories can make doing this a whole lot of fun!

Here are my top 5 suggestions for activities you can do with your child to help stimulate phonological awareness.

1. Copy the Sound

You will need:

·         A selection of items which make a sound (two of each – one for you and one for your child) eg a set of keys, coins in a tub, a pot and a wooden spoon, a piece of newspaper to scrunch, a plastic bottle half filled with water.

How to play:

·         Your child should sit with their back towards you. Set out the items in front of each of you. 

·         Make a noise with one of the items.  Can your child use the correct item to make exactly the same noise?

Phonological Skill

Can listen carefully and identify individual sounds.

2. Rhyming Fun

Take turns to choose rhyming names for different types of animals.  You might like to use an animal picture book for this activity.

·         A cat called Matt

·         A fish called Trish

·         A monkey called Chunky

·         A kangaroo called Sue

·         A lion called Brian

It’s fine to make up silly or made-up names eg a sheep called Peep or a rabbit called Fabbit!

Phonological Skill

Can recognise words that have the same ending sound and suggest others which also rhyme.

3. I Spy

This traditional game may have been around a long time but it’s still lots of fun!  A great one for long journeys.

The first person chooses an item they can see then says “I spy with my little eye something beginning with ….” and says the appropriate letter sound.  The second person must try and guess what the item is.  Once they have guessed correctly it is their turn.

Phonological Skill

Can identify the first letter sound in a word.

4. Clapping Game

Put out a selection of items on the floor or if you have some picture cards these would work too.  Make sure you have a mix of one, two and three syllable words.

Choose two items and put the others to one side.  Say “This is an apple” and clap twice as you say the word to show that it has two beats then say “This is a doll” and clap once to show it has one beat.  Repeat this and let your child clap with you.  Now say “Can you give me the ….” and clap once or twice.  See if they can give you the correct item.  Repeat with the other items/pictures.

Phonological Skill

Can distinguish the number of syllables in a word.

5. Think of Three

Give your child two words which start with the same sound and see if they can give you another one.  If your child finds this tricky you could mime the third word for your child to guess eg

Bear and bumblebee both start with b – can you think of another one?” - mime peeling a banana. Repeat the three words together – “Yes bear, bumblebee and banana all start with b!”

Phonological Skill

Can suggest words which start with the same letter sound.

Chatterbox Champions cards are full of ideas for games and activities to help your child develop these and other important pre-reading skills. Pop over to https://www.chatterboxchampions.com/shop and enter discount code AUGUST at checkout to get 10% off any order placed before 31 August 2019.

Elaine Kent