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What Is Phonemic Awareness?

Phonemic awareness is all about the spoken sound, and it is the foundation for reading!

What is phonemic awareness and how does it transform reading? It is the most important

ingredient in the reading recipe, but it seems to be forgotten at times. Phonemic awareness

falls under the umbrella of phonological awareness, which is an awareness of every level in

the sound structures of our language.

What is Phonemic Awareness?

Phonemic awareness is all about the spoken sound, or the phoneme, which is the smallest unit

of the language. It is an understanding of the structure of the language. This includes knowing

that the language is made up of words and in turn, words are made up of parts that we call

syllables in addition to rhymes and other sounds.  Before a student is able to understand written

language, they must have an understanding of the spoken language.

Phonemic awareness is all about the spoken sound, and it is the foundation for reading!

The simplest explanation is this......phonemic awareness gets the ears ready for what the eyes

are about to see. This is so true because if the ears are not ready, it does not matter what you 

put before a student. It will be a foreign concept to them.

Why is Phonemic Awareness Important?

Phonemic awareness is important because although children can know their letters and sounds, if

they are unable to understand and manipulate sounds, then they won't be able to do anything with

them. They will be unable to hear the parts of a word, nor will they be able to blend a word together.

Research has shown that the best predictors of student's reading success lie with their ability to

grasp phonemic awareness. When students arrive at school and their phonological awareness is

well-developed, then the probability of their success in making sense of how letters and sounds work

in print is high. It is necessary for students to be able to effectively use letter-sound correspondence

when it comes to reading and writing.

Phonemic awareness is all about the spoken sound, and it is the foundation for reading!

Phonemic Awareness in Whole Group

There are many moments where we can add phonemic awareness throughout our day. You can

definitely bring in phonemic awareness elements into your whole group time. I like to do

this during our read-aloud time. This is not a time to be very specific, as the children in your

classroom will likely have diverse needs. I use this time to introduce new concepts, and kind of see

where my students are in general. It's also good practice to incorporate phonemic awareness

activities into your daily reading time.

Phonemic awareness is all about the spoken sound, and it is the foundation for reading!

It is necessary to provide opportunities for children to develop their ear for language. Find all of

the stories that contain rhyming words and alliterations! As adults, we can be over these types of

books quickly, but they are a goldmine for students who are learning to listen inside of a word!

Include poems and silly songs as well. The good thing about poems and songs is that you can

put them on charts. Now yes, adding a visual brings in phonics, but for your students who are ready,

the visual aid is a good thing.

Phonemic Awareness in Small Group

Small group is where the magic happens! This is where you get the biggest bang for your buck. I

begin each small group with about 5 minutes of phonemic awareness. Now for my students who

have none, we spend more time on it. At the beginning of the year, we focus on it a lot, because

knowing where my students are helps me to know who is ready to begin phonics. The easiest place

to begin is simple and quick phonemic awareness routines. It gives me a fast snapshot of where each

student is.

Phonemic awareness quick routines!

It's so important that you don't go too fast. I know that pacing guides and the powers that be

seem to always rush students, but building up phonemic awareness in a student is just like

building a house. If the foundation isn't right, eventually the house will begin to crumble

and it will be an unstable structure. 

Phonemic awareness is all about the spoken sound, and it is the foundation for reading!


To switch it up a bit, I begin to add in picture supports. I find that it helps students who 

struggle, because although they may not get all of the answers right, it gives them a bit of a

confidence boost that they can identify the pictures correctly.

Phonemic awareness is all about the spoken sound, and it is the foundation for reading!    

Once again, if you find that initially, you are spending most of your small group on phonemic 

awareness, it is ok! They will make progress, and you will naturally see a path forward to begin

your phonics instruction.

Phonemic awareness is all about the spoken sound, and it is the foundation for reading!

At this point, the picture supports begin to include the letters that we are working on. It is 

during this time that they truly begin to understand how the letters and sounds work are

connected. At this point, you will begin more of a traditional small group, and you will find

that your groups become more and more differentiated.

Phonological awareness in small group.

Phonemic awareness is the foundation of reading. If you have students who are struggling, go 

back and check their level of phonemic awareness. I guarantee that it is an area that they are 

weak in, and therefore it is affecting their reading ability! By building up their ear to "hear", 

their reading will greatly improve!



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Phonemic awareness is all about the spoken sound, and it is the foundation for reading!

Back to School Read Alouds



One of my favorite times of the school year is back to school time. I love being able to make a book

come alive for a little one! That means voices, theatrics, and everything! I usually begin the year with

reading for enjoyment, and introducing concepts of print. Then I dive a little deeper into a book, and 

I begin to lay those foundational skills for comprehension. This takes a lot of continuous modeling,

but it's so worth it!

This post contains affiliate links, which means that I'll get a few cents thrown my way at no 

cost to you. That'll help me keep this old blog running!

Kevin Knows the Rules

Created engaged learners with these back to school read alouds! They are perfect for introducing characters, setting and more!

Kevin Knows the Rules is a book that was unknown to me before last year. My sweet friend Keri

introduced this book to me, and I couldn't believe that I hadn't heard of it before. Any book about

rules and procedures in a classroom and I'm sold! I love how it shows Kevin actually obeying the

rules, so it is a model for the students to look at. This is a great place to discuss how we as the 

readers actually know that Kevin is following the rules!

The Little School Bus 

Created engaged learners with these back to school read alouds! They are perfect for introducing characters, setting and more!

Some of you might recognize this gem of a book if you were fortunate enough to come across a

certain reading program. It is absolutely hilarious and I will never part with it! It has a fun story,

and repeating text. I love looking at the pictures because they tell another story! Your students can 

practice rhymes and learn about characters and setting as well as sequence story events with The 

Little School Bus

The Recess Queen 

Created engaged learners with these back to school read alouds! They are perfect for introducing characters, setting and more!

Mean Jean and Katie Sue are the best literary pair this century. The Recess Queen is the perfect

book for discussing appropriate behaviors on the playground, as well as how we should and 

should not treat every person that we come across. With this book we focus on characters and 

setting of the story, as well as specific character traits for Mean Jean and Katie Sue.

What I Like About Me

Created engaged learners with these back to school read alouds! They are perfect for introducing characters, setting and more!

The children that are featured in What I Like About Me are as different as can be, and they are proud

to show off what makes them unique. The focus for this book is to introduce characters and settings,

and provides an opportunity for students to focus on what makes us all unique. In addition to writing

pages, students can also create a craft.


Each resource contains headers that can be used to create anchor charts and each book companion

contains a craft as well. You can find the book companions here, and you can grab the books from




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Created engaged learners with these back to school read alouds! They are perfect for introducing characters, setting and more!


What is Phonological Awareness?

Students who are phonologically aware are at a great launching point to become great readers! So what's the difference between this, phonemic awareness and phonics?

There are so many terms that are used in education, it can definitely be overwhelming! A lot of times

they are used interchangeably (incorrectly so), and that adds to the confusion. We hear the words

phonics, phonemic awareness and phonological awareness thrown out there, but what do they

mean? Let's dive in!

What is Phonological Awareness?

Phonological awareness is like an umbrella term that covers the others. It is all about the sounds of

the spoken language. We must be sure that we don't confuse that with the word auditory. When we

talk about the word auditory, that means all of the sounds that are heard. Phonological means only

the sounds of the spoken language.

Students who are phonologically aware are at a great launching point to become great readers! So what's the difference between this, phonemic awareness and phonics?

When students have phonological awareness, that means that not only can they recognize different

sounds of spoken words, but they can also manipulate the sound parts of spoken words. This

includes phonemes (the individual sounds in a language), rhyming parts, alliteration, initial, medial,

final sounds as well as syllables, etc.

What is Phonemic Awareness?

Phonemic awareness is a type of phonological awareness. Phonemes are the smallest unit of sound

in spoken words. They are the smallest parts of oral words. When a child shows phonemic 

awareness, they are able to not only recognize but manipulate all of the individual phonemes in a 

word. It is important to remember that this has nothing to do with letters, not directly at least. 

Phonemic awareness is something that you can do with your eyes closed. 

Students who are phonologically aware are at a great launching point to become great readers! So what's the difference between this, phonemic awareness and phonics?


Students must have a very strong understanding of the spoken language before they will ever

understand the written language. Before they can identify the letter that makes a sound, they have

to first hear the sound. It is only when they hear the sound, that they'll be able to reproduce the

sounds that they hear, know the positions of the sounds, and then manipulate the sounds.

What is Phonics?

Phonics is all about the printed language. This is when letters are introduced, and the sounds that

are represented by those letters are discussed. It is during this time that students are introduced

to the alphabetic principle. They learn that the letters stand for sounds, and they begin to recognize

letters in all of the different forms (capital, lowercase, different fonts, etc.). They also begin to

visually discriminate between letters that look similar.

Phonological Awareness


Phonics is a skill that is done with your eyes open because it deals with visual input. Phonics

instruction helps students to be able to decode (read) words. This is important for encoding

(spelling) later on.


Research has shown that a child's level of phonological awareness when they reach the end of

kindergarten is a strong predictor of their future success in reading. When they are phonologically

aware, they are positioned to become great readers. When there is a focus on phonological

awareness, we can directly prevent reading problems. If a student comes to us with a phonological

deficit, then we can definitely address it!



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Students who are phonologically aware are at a great launching point to become great readers! So what's the difference between this, phonemic awareness and phonics?

Developing Print Awareness Through Writing

We know that students can develop print awareness through writing! Shared writing, guided writing and interactive writing all play an important part of an effective literacy program!


There are many recipes in developing print awareness, but they all pretty much contain the same

ingredients. We can help students to develop print awareness through reading, but we can also

work on it during writing. Just as reading activities are crucial components of an effective literacy

program, writing plays an important part as well.

Shared Writing

Shared writing is similar to shared reading in that the teacher and students work together to create

a message or a story. During this time, the teacher is in charge of the writing and establishes how

writing works. The teacher also helps students to understand and see that print is an idea or thought

written down. Shared writing also provides a ton of opportunities for teachable moments. Teachers

can review letters, sound-symbol correspondence, and phonological awareness as well as concepts 

of print.

Interactive Writing

Interactive writing once again allows the teacher and students to work together. However, this time

the teacher is not the only one with the pen. Students are able to participate by writing letters or

words, and then the teacher completes the rest. This is a fun time for students because they really

feel as if they had a part in the activity. They absolutely love to share the pen!


We know that students can develop print awareness through writing! Don't forget this critical component of an effective literacy program!


Guided Writing

In previous years guided writing began more in first grade, although now it seems to have made its

way to kindergarten. Guided writing is normally what I do during our writing workshop time. It

consists of a mini-lesson, where the teacher takes the time to model and re-model everything. This

is when workshop procedures are reviewed, as well as the writing process and writing mechanics

among other things. In guided writing, the children are writing and you are walking around

responding to that writing. They could also be coming to you for writing conferences. Then

students have independent writing time, which we'll talk about next, and at the end of the writing

period, we have share time.

We know that students can develop print awareness through writing! Don't forget this critical component of an effective literacy program!


Independent Writing

It is necessary that students write on a daily basis. They need the time to explore writing and

concepts of print. If their writing time is sporadic, you will not see the necessary growth in their

writing. During independent writing, students are writing without input from the teacher. They are

however able to get help from their peers.

We know that students can develop print awareness through writing! Don't forget this critical component of an effective literacy program!



I think that writing is more difficult to teach than reading. There are a few things that I have

learned and I think that it makes all of the difference. Begin teaching writing as early as you can,

and as often as you can, preferably every day. It's as simple as that. The more your students

participate in writing, the better off they'll be. It makes a world of difference in their development

of print awareness.



We know that students can develop print awareness through writing! Shared writing, guided writing and interactive writing all play an important part of an effective literacy program!

Concepts of Print

Teaching concepts of print the first few days of school is a great way to kick-off your daily literacy block! This set of free lesson plans will help you to know exactly where to begin!

Print awareness is an important component of a child's journey on the literacy train. We know that

the stronger their print awareness skills are, the higher their chance of success in reading. When 

students enter our classroom, we must be intentional in developing this print awareness. We can

definitely do this through reading, but what about those first days of school, when you are unsure

as to where you need to begin?


Teaching concepts of print the first few days of school is a great way to kick-off your daily literacy block! This free resource will help you to know exactly where to begin!


Before we ever pick up a book for comprehension purposes, we focus on print awareness. I like

 to begin the school year with 10 days of lessons that specifically focus on print awareness. The

first five days focus on concepts of books and the last five days focus on concepts of print. I also

like to take this time to talk about how a story made us feel. This can help to shape students' 

attitudes towards reading and writing in a positive way.


Teaching concepts of print the first few days of school is a great way to kick-off your daily literacy block! This free resource will help you to know exactly where to begin!

During this time we look at tons of posters, and we make some into anchor charts! It's a fun

way to introduce these to your students, because it is something that they will refer back to time

and time again. 

Teaching concepts of print the first few days of school is a great way to kick-off your daily literacy block! This free resource will help you to know exactly where to begin!

The awesome thing about this set of activities is that they do not require a certain book! These

lessons are applicable to any book that you choose to begin your school year. It is the perfect

way to introduce books to children, especially if they have not had exposure to them before.

Teaching concepts of print the first few days of school is a great way to kick-off your daily literacy block! This free resource will help you to know exactly where to begin!

It's amazing how much they learn in ten days and it makes learning enjoyable, which will

create positive literacy experiences for your students.

Teaching concepts of print the first few days of school is a great way to kick-off your daily literacy block! This free resource will help you to know exactly where to begin!

Print awareness is a crucial part of a child's growth in literacy and it's important that we




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Teaching concepts of print the first few days of school is a great way to kick-off your daily literacy block! This free resource will help you to know exactly where to begin!