Archive for November, 2008

I am a speech Pathologist and I love it.  I wanted to share what we do for reading so that I can look back one day and remember, and also to help anyone else who wants to put together their own reading programme.  Here it goes….


I begin teaching these skills informally from about the age of 2.  We play games in the car, talk about words when reading books, give out silly instructions… Anything that comes out naturally in our everyday life.  Phonological awareness skills are focused on the way you hear words, sounds and are able to manipulate these.  It is not about anything in print, that comes next!

  • Rhyming

Words that have the same ending sound the same.  For example, Cat-fat-mat-hat-sat-pat…  Children learn rhyming in two stages.  The first is being able to identify words that rhyme.  I usually do this when I read Dr Seuss type books.  I will read the para graph/page and then say what words did you hear that sound the same/rhyme.  The skill is being able to pick those two words out of the text (by hearing not reading the print).  The second stage is in being able to generate the word by themselves.  For example I say cat-fat… and then the child has to come up with other words that rhyme (hat-mat-sat… nonsense words are fine too!).  I usually do this by playing Eye-spy in the car (Eye spy with my little eye something that rhymes with bee…….tree!).  You could also do this while reading a book, looking at pictures etc.

  • Syllables

Syllables are the beats in words.  For example the word elephant has 3 syllables el-e-phant, watermelon has 4 wa-ter-me-lon.  Children need to be able to clap the beats (eg. say computer and clap the beats com-pu-ter) and also blend the beats (eg. what word am I saying but-ter-fly… butterfly).  Trips to the zoo are a really good opportunity to ‘do’ syllables.  As you visit each exhibit you could clap the names.  On the way home you could say the syllables and the child needs to tell you the animal.

  • counting words in sentences

This gives children a stepping stone towards syllables.  You say a sentence “It is my birthday”, and the child needs to know that there are four words (ie.  that birthday is one word).  Start with simple sentences like “it is cold”, “my horse”, “I like cars”….

  • Initial sound identification

This is very important in being able to read.  It is not about seeing the first sound in a word, but it is about hearing the first sound.  So, The first sound in car is c, ship is sh, radio is r.  The first sound said is the first sound in the word.  I always start with their name.  Now, if their first name is Kate it’s pretty easy that the first sound is k, but if their name is George then the first sound is j as in ‘judge’ not g as in ‘gate’.  Even thought the letter doesn’t correspond with the sound, the sound the word starts with is important not the letter!

Again this skill is achieved in two stages.  The first is being able to tell you what sound a word a starts with (eg.  what does sun start with ? s).  The second is being able to generate words for a sound (eg.  what words starts with s?   sun).  The second skill is significantly more difficult and quite a milestone when achieved.

  • final sound identification

As above but with final sounds in words.  For example, the last sound in fish is sh, cat is t, skate is t.

  • middle sound identification

As with Initial sound identification but with the middle sounds.  For example the middle sound in cat is short a, gate is long a (ay).  Stick to words with three sounds

  • segmenting

Segmenting is the ability to separate words into sounds.  This skill is vital for good spelling.  For example cat is c-a-t, gate is g-ay-t (so three sounds!), me is m-ee.  I tend to get the kids to clap out sound in the car.  I usually give them a word and ask how many sounds.  If they get it right, then they tell the next erpson a word and it goes around.

  • blending

This is the ability to blend sounds into words – very crucial to reading!  For example, c-a-t says cat, m-ea-t says meat, b-oo says boo.  There are a few ways to blend  sounds together. 1.  Saying each sound with space in between (c  a  t).   2.  stretching the sounds so they join together (ccccaaaaatttttt).  3.  Emphasising the initial sound (C a t)

Here’s a good link with some techniques

Blending Boosters

  • manipulation

I don’t tend to work very much in this area as by the time children can blend and segment, then manipulation usually comes pretty easily.  Manipulation means that the child can delete or add on a sound to a rod and say it.  Eg.  boat without the /b/ sound is oat, lay with a /p/ at the beginning is play…

Next….  Early Reading

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