Phonemic Awareness

Welcome to the Orton Gillingham Online Academy!

Lynn Givens is guest blogging with us again this week! We appreciate her knowledge and expertise & deem it a privilege that she is willing to share with us:

“I have been a teacher of struggling readers and a teacher educator for over 35 years. I served as Director of Intervention at the Florida Center for Reading Research where I was involved in providing intervention training and professional development for teachers throughout Florida. I am currently teaching undergraduate reading courses at FSU’s School of Teacher Education, teaching and facilitating a practicum for teachers of struggling readers, and acting as instructor/facilitator for online teacher endorsement courses in reading. Trained in the Orton-Gillingham Approach, I spent eight years at the Schenck School in Atlanta, which provided me with a firm foundation in teaching dyslexic students and other struggling readers. My goal has always been to provide high-quality, explicit instruction to close the gaps for students who are having reading difficulties and to instruct teachers on how to do this as well.” – Lynn Givens

A Teacher’s Guide to Phonemic Awareness

A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in spoken language. There are about 25 consonant phonemes and about 18 vowel phonemes, or sounds. Seven phonemes such as /ch/ and /sh/ are represented by two letters.

Phonemic Awareness is…

  • identifying and manipulating sounds of spoken language. “Phonemic awareness instruction/practice can be done in the dark.”
  • essential for reading.
  • an important component for all beginning/struggling readers.

Instruction in Phonemic Awareness

  • helps students learn to read and spell.
  • must be explicit, logical, and systematic.
  • is most effective if taught in small groups.
  • is essential for teaching all students, including older, less able readers.
  • should be continued until decoding is automatic.
  • may include counters or markers to help students count/blend/segment sounds.

Seven essential Phonemic Awareness skills – in order of difficulty:

  1. Rhyming
  • Do these two words rhyme?
  • What are some words that rhyme with “rock”?
  1. Phoneme Counting
  • How many sounds do you hear in the word “big”?
  1. Phoneme Matching
  • Which of these words has the same beginning sound? “sun, cat, sit”
  • Which of these words has the same middle sound? “ham, rag, bun”
  • Which of these words has the same ending sound? “best, film, harm”
  1. Phoneme Blending*
  • What word is this: /b//i/ /g/?
  1. Phoneme Segmentation*
  • How many sounds are in “grab”? What are those sounds?
  1. Phoneme Deletion
  • Say the word “smile” without the /s/.
  1. Phoneme Substitution
  • In the word “bug,” change the /g/ to a /n/. What word did you make?

*Blending and segmenting are the two Phonemic Awareness skills that have the most impact on reading and spelling.

Try these Phonemic Awareness activities on your own.

Think of three words that rhyme with each:

1. high     2. lunch    3. spoke     4. boil     5. fawn

Count the phonemes in each of the words below:

6. high    7. through   8. judge    9. oil    10. cream

Identify the third phoneme in each of the words below:

11. choke   12. night   13. square   14 notched   15. scrunch

Place a marker down for each sound you hear in the words below:

16. friend   17. shelf   18. key     19. youth     20. scrunched


1. sigh, cry, bye

2. bunch, crunch, munch

3. poke, oak, yolk

4. toil, spoil, soil

5. yawn, lawn, pawn

6. (2)   7. (3)     8. (3)    9. (2) 10. (4)

11. /k/     12. /t/     13. /a/     14. /ch/     15. /r/

16. ooooo

17. oooo

18. oo

19. ooo

20. ooooooo

As Lynn mentioned,  phonemic awareness is essential for reading. It sets the foundation for the development of literacy skills. It is best teaching practices to provide our students with ample opportunities to practice the skills Lynn has mentioned in this blog post, as they will send our students on their way to language acquisition.

Lynn, we thank-you for this Teacher’s Guide to Phonemic Awareness, as it will be useful not only for those with Dyslexia, but all students will benefit from this explicit instruction as well.

383404807245519100914, Executive Director