Basic Components of Effective Phoneme Awareness Lessons

Basic Components of a Phoneme Awareness Lesson

1. Choose one phoneme to teach.

Consonants are usually easier phonemes and typical of phoneme awareness lessons. However, phonics lessons review vowel phonemes. Example: /s/, /f/, or /m/.

2. Devise a sound analogy, picture, and hand gesture for your phoneme, and display its principal grapheme.

Example: Letter S is for /s/, like a sneaky snake. Can you hiss like a snake? Gesture: Weave hand and arm side to side.

Sneaky Snake /s/

Example: The hummingbird is the smallest bird. It hovers by beating its wings 50-60 times a second. That makes a humming sound. Gesture: Fingers as wings.

Hummingbird /m/

3. Make an alliterative “tongue tickler.”

Have students stretch or split off your phoneme in the tickler.*

Example: Sam said he was sorry he put salt in Sally’s sandwich.

Stretch it: Sssam sssaid he was sssorry . . .

Split it: S-am s-aid he was s-orry . . .

4. Have students study the mouth move for your phoneme.

Consider using mirrors to see the mouth moves.

Example: F stands for /f/. It looks like a toothbrush, and it sounds like brushing teeth. What’s your mouth doing with /f/? Brush /f/ in our tickler: The funny fly flew far to the flowers.

Toothbrush /f/

Example: L stands for /l/, the light saber sound.

What’s your mouth doing with /l/? Raise your light saber! Cut /l/ in our twister: Lisa lost the lizard’s large lemon.

Lightsaber /l/

5. Provide a model of how to find your phoneme in a spoken word.

Example: Let’s see if sneaky snake /s/ is in pest. I’ll know it’s there if the air hisses over my tongue. P-p-p-e-e-e-st. P-e-e-e-sss. . . There, in the middle I hissed like a snake. That was /s/! We do say /s/ in pest!

Let me check lift. Lll-i-i-i-fff-t. Nope, no sneaky snake in lift.

6. Add phoneme-finding practice by testing spoken words.

When we taste something good, we say, “Mm-m-m!”


Example: Do you hear /m/ in Mom or Dad? In send or mail? In beef or ham?

I’ll name some food. If they have /m/ in them, go m-m-m. If they don’t, say “yuck.” Ham, fish, lima beans, ice cream, cereal, chocolate cake, marshmallows. What am I saying: roo-m? crea-m? sli-me? What am I saying: m-oon? m-ess?

7. Apply phoneme awareness in phonetic cue reading— decoding the first letters of rhyming words.

Example: We use M to write the Mm-m-m sound. Is this made or fade? Might or fight? Find or mind? Fan or man?

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