As I begin another year with the kindergarten students, I always have to remember to start out with many phonemic awareness activities. So many times we want to jump in and start them off reading, without giving them the tools they need for success. Before children can read, they have to understand that sounds make words, and they all go together. Phonemic awareness is not phonics, but it is the understanding of the sounds that words make and being able to manipulate them.
The students I work with have had little exposure to phonemic awareness activities, so I have to help them on their journey to find them. Many activities we do with those little students are easy ~ rhyming, singing, changing letters in words, and chunking sounds in words. All of it is done without seeing a single word. What I love the most about it is that the kids think it is so much fun.
One activity that really helps students with phonemic awareness skills is called "counting words". This simple activity can be done with any poem or rhythmic book. The students simply listen for the individual words, which some will not hear right away. This beginning activity helps students understand that words are separate from each other and leads to syllable and phoneme segmentation.
It is super simple to do. Just choose any poem, rhythmic book, or sentence. Read it aloud to the students. It is not necessary to show them the words. It is easiest to start off with one syllable words and move into words with more than one syllable in the sentences. A simple early rhyme could be "Jack and Jill", especially the first line.
After reading it once, you read it slowly accentuating the words and have the students say it with you. Once they know the rhyme pretty well, we start counting words. We say it slowly and push tokens onto the counting words boards. I give my students no more than they will need to begin and then start adding some tokens each time.
My students enjoy doing this, but we only do it for about 5 minutes or less each time for about a week or two. After that, we move on to more complex activities and begin really working with the sounds in the the words.
You can grab a freebie "Counting Words Board" set in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. They are bright and colorful and ready to use! During my first few weeks back, my kindergarten students and I will work diligently on counting words!
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