Every time you chant a favorite children's rhyme or read aloud from a book like One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss, you are helping your child understand the sounds that letters stand for.
When she notices that the words “two” and “blue” rhyme, she is developing phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness is the ability to understand and hear that a word is made up of a series of discrete, identifiable sounds, or phonemes. For example, the word “did” is made up of three sounds (d, i, d). Once she gets this, she can take words apart, put them together, and alter them. Research indicates that phonemic awareness is a strong predictor of early success in reading.
Reading expert Marilyn Jager Adams outlines five ways to have fun exploring phonemes with your child:
1. Rhyme and Alliteration: Listen for the two words that rhyme in a series of words like “cat, boy, bat.” Repeat examples of alliteration, such as “Sally sells seashells by the seashore.”
2. Odd One Out: Listen for the word that does not rhyme in a series of words like “sat, sit, mat.” Listen for the word that begins with a different sound in a group of words such as “boy, bit, man.”
3. Blending Sounds Into Words: Listen to the word parts “m” and “an,” and put them together to make the word “man.”
4. Segmenting Words: Listen to the word “dig,” and then say the word parts, “d” and “ig.”
5. Sound Switch: Replace one sound with another. For example, replace the first sound in “cat” with “m” to make “mat,” or substitute a “t” for the last sound in “bin” to make “bit.”