If you have been following the blog for the past several weeks, you have learned A LOT about phonemic awareness. So far, in this phonemic awareness skills series, we have discussed rhyming, syllables, onset and rime, sound isolation, phonemic blending, and phonemic segmentation. This final blog is about phoneme manipulation, the most sophisticated of all phonemic awareness skills.
Phoneme manipulation is the ability to change individual phonemes, or sounds, in a word. It is also the most difficult of the phonological awareness tasks. In this blog, I will describe different types of phoneme manipulation. I will also provide some simple ways to introduce and practice phoneme manipulation with your child.
You can practice adding phonemes to the beginning or end of a word. For example, start with the word /top/, then add /s/ to the beginning to make the word, /stop/. Another example, start with the word /for/, add a /t/ at the end to make the word /fort/. You can also challenge your little reader to produce consonant blends. For example, start with the word, /cap/, then tell your child to add the /l/ sound after the /c/ sound making the word clap. Reinforce the learning by asking your child to tell you what was added to create the new word.
Phoneme deletion is the elimination of a sound. Just as with phoneme addition, you can also delete the initial or final consonant sounds as well as eliminate a consonant in a blend. Tell your child, “Now we are going to play a different game. Instead of adding a letter to a word, we are going to take one away. For example, say the word /fort/. Now take away the /t/ sound at the end and what do you have? That’s right! You have the word /for/.” Great job!
With phoneme substitution, you are completely replacing one phoneme for another. Tell your child, “Say the word /bat/. Now change the /b/ sound to the /c/ sound. What’s the new word? That’s right, cat!” This skill can be difficult because, in order to get the new word, the child must mentally DELETE the first phoneme, add the NEW phoneme, then BLEND the word. But do not lose hope! With continued practice (and patience), your child will gain confidence and will be substituting phonemes in no time!
In closing, phonemic awareness is foundational to reading development. Your child will be a successful, confident reader if they master phonemic awareness skills. Just keep in mind, the early years are critical for fostering reading enjoyment. Practice is important, but should be non-threatening. Always keep the learning light and most of all, FUN! Happy reading!