1 > Goals


  • To increase teachers' knowledge of phonological awareness.
  • To develop methods of fostering children's phonological awareness.

2 > In Advance

  • Distribute the handout (pages 11-13) one week before the workshop.
  • Have a flip chart and markers available.
  • Ask teachers to be ready to present one activity designed to foster children's phonological awareness. They might bring a favorite poem, chant, or rhyme; describe a listening game; show how they use children's names to foster children's awareness of syllabication and initial letter sounds; or demonstrate how they use children's invented spelling to promote awareness of letters, words, sentences, and letter sounds.

3 > Begin the Workshop

To reinforce how difficult it is for children to hear the individual sounds of letters, begin with an experiment. Pick two people from the group whose speech patterns differ. (They might be from different parts of the country, or one of their home languages might not be English.) Give one a slip of paper with the word pin written on it, the other with the word pen. Ask the others to close their eyes while each person, in turn, reads the word she was given. Have the participants write the word they think they heard on a piece of paper. Find out how many participants heard the words correctly.

Next ask the group to try to say isolated letter sounds. For instance, ask them to say the sound of a /w/ as it is at the beginning of the word window without saying the sound of the lint. Try saying the Ip/ in the words pin and pen without pronouncing the /in/ or /en/.

Make a point of discussing how difficult it is for children to hear the sounds of letters and that introducing letter-sound relationships through children's firsthand, meaningful experiences increases their interest and need to learn to listen and make the connection between letters and their sounds.

4 > Continue the Workshop

Continue the workshop by sharing the games, poems, and other activities designed to foster children's phonological awareness. As teachers present their activities, reinforce the following:

  • Reading rhymes, poems, or stories full of rhymes over and over helps children notice sound patterns.
  • Pointing to words on a chart or in a big book, framing initial letters with your hand and saying the letter name and sound, or framing words with your hand, helps children make the letter-sound connection.
  • Encouraging children to invent their spelling as they scribble, draw, and write helps them construct their own knowledge of the alphabetic system.

5 > Conclude the Workshop

While it is true that children need direct instruction to gain phonological awareness, this does not mean they learn this awareness through large-group instruction. Effective teachers use spontaneous experiences to introduce individual children to phonemes. For example, they could ask children to listen to the sound of /z/ in zip as they are zipping children's coats, identify the / in the word firefighter when children are playing firefighters, or say "Susan, your name begins with /s/." Ask teachers to keep track of the number of times they use spontaneous occurrences to introduce phoneme awareness over a week. Then ask them to try to increase this number during the next week. Ask teachers to bring their findings to the next workshop.