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Phonological Awareness

Phonological Awareness


Phonological Awareness is the awareness of all of the sounds of language. Having a good phonological awareness means having the ability to hear and distinguish sounds. It helps children become prepared to learn how letters and sounds go together in words.  It is the essential key stone for learning how to read and write and therefore hugely important in our Year 1 classrooms. The main skills to have in gaining a good phonological awareness are:

  • listening for and identifying environmental sounds.
  • syllable awareness.
  • onset and rime.
  • rhyming.
  • alliteration.


Once we have introduced children to all of these skills we then begin our phonics program where we teach the children how the different letters of the alphabet (graphemes) correspond to different sounds (phonemes). The children learn how the sounds can blend together to make words. They also learn how words can be segmented into sounds in order to read the word. The children learn to read and write simultaneously. We will discuss this more in detail in the Phonics section of our page.


How can I help my child develop their phonological awareness?


Below are some ideas to help support your child in their acquisition and development of phonological awareness.


Environmental Sounds

Being able to discriminate different sounds heard in their environment helps children to tune into sounds and really become aware of sound. It also helps develop their listening and attention skills which are so important for learning. 

A simple but really effective activity is a 'Sound Walk'. Create a checklist before you go on your walk and invite your child to tick off different sounds as they hear them.




Syllable Awareness

Syllable awareness is being able to count how many syllables are in words by clapping or tapping. Being able to segment a word into syllables is an important pre-reading skill and will hep children decode words when they learn to read.


A fun activity to practise this skill is simply clapping the syllables in different words. You could even use musical instruments to tap out the syllables.  You could even tie syllable counting into a physical activity. Why not try large body movement to identify the number of syllables in a word, or bounce a ball; you could even use stepping stones. The possibilities are endless.


Onset and Rime

The onset of a word refers to the initial sound of a word and the rime is the collection of sounds that follow so for example cat can be broken down into c-at. Teaching children about onset and rime helps them to recognise common chunks within words and will help them decode unfamiliar words when they learn to read. Creating word jigsaws is a simple but effective way of helping your child practise this skill.



One of the biggest predictors of how well a child learns to read is how well they can recall and say nursery rhymes. This is because Rhyming teaches children how language works. It helps them notice and work with the sounds within words and also helps them experience the rhythm of language. When children are familiar with a nursery rhyme or a rhyming story, they learn to anticipate the rhyming words. This prepares them to make predictions when they read which is an important reading strategy. Rhyming is also really important for writing too. It can help children understand spelling patterns in words.

There are two different skills to learn with rhyming. The first and easier to master is rhyme detection. Being able to identify words that rhyme. Singing songs, reciting nursery rhymes and reading stories is really the best way to develop this skill. Encourage children to simple recognise when words rhyme.

Rhyme generation is the more complex skill to master when learning about rime. It involves identifying a string of words that rhyme with an initial word. Having fun with nursery rhymes by changing up the words is always a hit with children and really encourages them to both identify rhyming words and have a go at generating their own rhymes.


Humpty Dumpty sat on the tree

Humpty Dumpty got stung by a bee!








Alliteration is recognising the initial sounds of words and finding other words that have the same initial sound. This skill enables children to identify individual sounds in words which is crucial for both reading and writing.


There are some fun games that you can play with your child to help develop their alliteration.


  • Eye Spy with my Little Eye something beginning with the 'a' sound. ( you can change the sounds as you play)
  • I went to the market and bought... ( children think of a list of objects beginning with the same sound.)
  • Finish it Off.  Give your child the beginning of an alliterative sentence and ask them to think of a different way to finish it. e.g ' Sally smiled sweetly at ....", " Rabbits ran..."
  • Toungue Twisters are also great fun. 







At the Zoo- a fun interactive activity exploring alliteration.

Rhyming Quiz- a fun quiz to help children recognise rhyming words.