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Phonological Awareness: Differentiated Activities for the Classroom

Previously, I shared the importance of phonological awareness development among young readers. If you missed that post, you can access it hereStill, knowing about phonological awareness is one thing; knowing how to appropriately help your students develop it is another. Speaking from experience, I know that it really helps if you have some structured activities to guide you while you're guiding them... especially in those early years of teaching!

Today, I want to share some of my own resources for daily phonological awareness practice.

I created these to use with my own students, to help students develop phonological awareness specifically with syllables. They're great quick, but effective, activities to use daily in small-group instruction. As students become familiar with the routine and gain proficiency with syllable manipulation, you can even transition this to use as a partner exercise.

First, I designed instructional posters that reinforce the definition of a syllable as well as a poster guide for vowel sounds. These are great to use during instructional time as supportive materials, or you can put them on display for student reference during independent activities. Your more visual learners will heavily rely on these as cues when they are working these phonological exercises. 

Next, I created three activities for building phonological awareness. The activities are differentiated to meet the needs of students at different stages of development with phonological awareness. If you weren't aware that there are different stages of development, don't fret; you don't have to do extensive assessments to determine your students' abilities. Observation alone will give you all the information you need to inform your instruction in this area. These activities are designed to easily fit your students at different levels, without being overly complicated.

1. For Students Who Need to Develop Phonological Awareness with Syllables:

Use the “Say, Tap, & Count” activity. This activity features picture cards, which should be cut apart into the same number of pieces as the syllables contained in the words. (The cards feature dotted lines for easy, even cutting.) Lay cards for one picture in front of the student. He/she pronounces the word for the picture. Then he/she touches each part of the picture while saying each syllable in the word. The separate parts for each picture help the student visualize and count the syllables in the word while hearing each syllable as it is pronounced.

2. For Students Who Can Hear & Count Syllables Independently:

Use the “Sort It Out!” activity. This activity features numbered header cards for a pocket chart or a table as well as corresponding picture cards. Each student draws one picture card. He/she pronounces the word for the picture and counts each syllable he/she hears in the word. Then the student places the picture card under the number that matches the number of syllables in the word.

This sounds simple, and it really is - as long as students have developed this level of phonological awareness. If they have to tap, clap, or do a chin-check to help them count the syllables, that's fine! You just want them to be able to do this activities entirely independently. 

3. For Students Who Can Hear & Manipulate Syllables Independently:

Use the “Change It!” activity. This activity features twenty instructional cards for a listening/speaking activity. The teacher reads aloud the instructions as printed on each card. The student(s) listen and follow the instructions to substitute syllables and make a new word. The students say the new word aloud. Each card contains the answer as well as instructions. 

This is entirely an auditory exercise.

For example: 

Say airplane. Instead of plane, say bag. What is the new word? (airbag)

I love using these activities, because I can literally watch my students progress from one skill to the next, and it's so exciting to watch their proficiency develop. They enjoy these as well! If you are interested in learning more about these activities, you can access them here in the Tally Tales TPT store

I used this particular set so much that I realized I needed a little variety to keep it interesting and new for my students. Building on this same concept of these three differentiated activities, I created seasonal phonemic awareness activities to use throughout the entire first semester of the school year! If interested, you can access them individually by clicking on any of the following images. 

There's also a bundle that contains all of these!


Colorful Alphabets
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