Eight On-The-Go Games You Can Do To Develop Your Child’s Phonological Awareness
Mathilde Cerioli, PhD in cognitive neuroscience & positive discipline advocate
Phonological awareness is an essential component of learning to read and doesn’t require children to know their letters. Read the article « The stepping stone to reading that parents often overlook » for more details about it. Reading and writing is a complex auditory process. You can start playing on-the-go games with your preschooler to help them develop into fluent readers once they start actively learning to read at school.
These on-the-go activities are listed from easiest to more advanced, so start from the beginning and move on as you see your child become more confident.
- Clapping game: In this game, children must clap their hands every time they hear a word in a sentence. For example: « I have a red hat,» they would clap five times. Always start with short sentences while speaking slowly. Once you see they are getting the hang of it, you can talk faster or make the sentence longer. And to make it fun, make up silly sentences to get the giggles going!
- Rhyming game level 1: Ask your child what words rhyme. « What words rhyme: is it « cat » and « fat » or « cat » and « umbrella »?. As they get more comfortable, pick words that sound more similar. « What words rhyme together: is it « cat » and « fat » or « cat » and « tap »? ».
- Rhyming game level 2: This one is easy to practice during a commute or a walk. Start a sentence and let your kid finish it to make a rhyme. For example: « I am a queen. My favorite color is … », « I love my rat, it wears a … ».
- Making up new words level 1 - Blending: Invite your child to make up new words from existing ones. Example: « Let’s invent a word, if I put the words « up » and « tap » together, I get « uptap », what do I get if I put the words « boat » and « bat ». Let them quiz you as well; that way, it feels more like a game, encourages them to find words on their own, and you can model the correct answers, which will help them learn faster.
- Making up new words level 2 - Segmenting: Ask your child to tell you what sounds make up a word. For example: « what sounds do you hear in cat? » They would have to answer /c/, /a/, /t/. This is the time to get silly. They will like this game much more if you ask what sounds they hear in potty words, for instance!
- Making up new words level 3 - Deletion: Tell your child you will make up new words together from words they know by stealing a sound. For example: « I am taking the word « mat » and I am stealing the sound /m/, what is left? » They would have to answer « at ». Let them quiz you as well; that way, it feels more like a game, encourages them to find words on their own, and you can model the correct answers, which will help them learn faster.
- Spell words with phonemes - Level 1. For example: « If I put the sounds /p/, /i/, /g/ together, what word do I get? ».
- Spell words with phonemes - Level 2. This time, ask your child to spell a word for you, and you have to guess the word.
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It will help little ones develop phonemic awareness, which is a skill that predicts later literacy performance.