As a kindergarten teacher, it is my job to teach kids ALL they need to know to be successful when they get to first grade. That’s a TOUGH job. Phonemic awareness is one of those skills that is really hard and something that we work on the entire year. Kids either instantly get it or they have to work on it to gain that skill. So, where do you start when there are so many things to cover? One of the very first things I like to do is begin with some beginning sound activities.
The importance of Beginning Sounds
Why beginning sounds? My end goal is for my students to be able to decode cvc words and even tougher words as the year goes on. There are many parts to a word and sometimes, it may take some students a little longer to grasp beginning sounds. I also focus on sound discrimination, rhyming words, and anything that can be done with their eyes closed. Yep. That’s right. Everything that falls under the phonemic awareness umbrella is done with sounds.
Phonemic Awareness in Small Groups
As my students learn their letters and are able to blend their phonemic awareness skills with their newly learned phonics skills, I like to work on building and decoding words. One game that is no prep can be done on a whiteboard with a marker. I play this “What’s Missing?” game. It can actually be done with any of the letters, but I introduce it with the beginning sound missing. Since we haven’t mastered medial and final sounds, we focus on mastering identifying beginning sounds.
During small group or in centers, I want them to focus on the same things that we do in whole group or in their small group. Sometimes, I add a ring of cards to a center that is similar to our What’s Missing game. They have to write the letter that is missing. This is more phonics than phonemic awareness since they are applying their phonics skills with the letter, BUT they are using their ears to hear what is missing.
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Integrate with Technology
Another whole group activity that I like to do is for everyone to grab their device (if you’re not at a 1:1 school, whiteboards and markers work well) and we write the beginning sounds in these words using our See it. Write it. Interactive PowerPoint. This resource actually has audio on the answer slide. Some of the interactive powerpoints that we use, do not have sound.
If we do this whole group, in the past everyone was on the rug and I’d say show me your answers. If students are in their seats, you can still do the same thing. It’s easy to get a quick glimpse of who has it, I may take down a note or two, and then we check our answers. I do have my students to fix the letter if they need to. The goal is to recognize the sounds and to correctly write the letters.
Beginning Sounds with Tech
If your student have devices or you have enough to share, I like to assign activities from Seesaw, Boom and Google Slides. Students are able to work independently. Depending on the platform, I can look at what they’re doing in real-time. It’s pretty cool how far tech has come with what we can do in the classroom.
We do sound sorts using technology as well. Students have to say the words and listen for the beginning sound. Then, they move the picture over to the correct letter. This goes with our sorting PowerPoint that we use from The Phonics Diner. I assign this to them in Seesaw. It’s extremely easy to use for kindergarten students. You can check out my Seesaw resources here.
Beginning Sound Sorts
We also REALLY really really love sound sorts. A few years back, I started doing a chant with my students as we were trying to figure out where to sort picture cards. I realized it would be a perfect center or independent activity for my students. This simple pocket chart game can be used with one letter and then a few pictures. They have to sort through the pictures and determine which one goes with that letter. As my students improve, I usually add two letters and then three letters to the pocket chart. I do try to keep the number of pictures down so there aren’t too many cards to get distracted with. It’s the perfect independent center where students can practice their beginning sounds and sort them to the correct letter. You can grab the sort here.
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Interested in more tech ideas? Check out this post.