Phonemic awareness encompasses the following concepts. These concepts should be the focus of your instruction.


This is one of the first concepts of phonemic awareness that students easily learn. Rhyming is the ability to hear two words that end the same way. Listening to and saying nursery rhymes or repetitive rhyming refrains helps students hear rhyme. At later stages, they are able to produce the rhyming word.

Books That Promote Rhyming
  • Four Fur Feet by Margaret Wise Brown
  • Zoo Looking by Mem Fox
  • Three Little Kittens by Paul Galdone
  • Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino
  • Buzz Said the Bee by Wendy Lewison
  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault

Matching Sounds

Students are able to listen for words that start with the same beginning sound. This is called alliteration. Bee and buzz start the same way but monkey and bat do not.

Books That Support Alliteration
  • Faint Frogs Feeling Feverish and Other Terrifically Tantalizing Tongue Twisters by Lilian Obligado
  • Miss Spider's ABC by David Kirk
  • Alligators All Around: An Alphabet by Maurice Sendak
  • Dr. Seuss's ABC by Dr. Seuss
  • Sheep on a Ship by Nancy Shaw

Segmenting Sounds in Words

This occurs when students are to separate the sounds they hear by phonemes (mom into /m/o/m/), syllables (robin into rob-in), or onsets and rimes (like into /l/ike/). Children who are able to segment sounds can begin to learn to write the letters for the sounds they hear.

Books That Support Phoneme Segmentation
  • Sounds of a Powwow by Bill Martin, Jr.
  • The Listening Walk by Paul Showers

Blending Sounds to Make Words

Blending requires that students put speech sounds together to make a word. An example of this is blending the phonemes /d/a/d to make dad or blending the onset and rime /h/op/ to make hop.

Books That Support Blending and Sound Manipulation
  • Annabel by Joy Cowley
  • Jolly Olly by I. Plater
  • The Baby Uggs Are Hatching by Jack Prelutsky
  • Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss
  • Silly Sally by Audrey Wood

Substituting Phonemes

Students are able to change one phoneme to another to make a new word. For examplem, the p in pig can be changed to a w to make the new word wig.

Books That Support Phoneme Substitution
  • The Happy Hippopotami by Bill Martin, Jr.
  • Listen to the Rain by Bill Martin, Jr. and John Archambault
  • Cock-a-Doodle-Moo by Bernard Most
  • There's a Wocket in My Pocket by Dr. Seuss
  • The Hungry Thing by Ann G. Seidler and Jan Slepian