Definition: The ability to hear, identify, and manipulate phonemes, the individual units of sound in spoken words.

Why it matters: Before they can learn to read print, children must understand that words can be broken down into smaller units and then sounded out. Phonemic awareness is the "super skill"; studies show that explicit instruction in phonemic awareness improves children's word reading and reading comprehension, and helps them learn to spell.

Explains distinctions between phonological awareness and phonemic awareness. Asserts that instruction with rhyming games, substitution, and segmenting heightens phonemic awareness.

Presents phonemic awareness as a key pillar of literacy instruction that should be taught systematically and explicitly. An end goal is for a child to segment sounds of letters in a word.

Shows the right way to pronounce consonant sounds (cognates) and each of the 44 phonemes. Demonstrates saying /b/ rather than /buh/ by dropping the unnecessary vowel sound.

Literacy How > 

Includes direct links to diagnostic tools for measuring phonemic awareness—a strong predictor of reading success. It also provides specific tips for developing phonemic awareness in dual language learners.
 

Bay Tree Learning >

Highlights three mistakes to avoid making when teaching phonemic awareness (PA). The author, a teacher, warns against teaching PA in isolation, exhausting working memory, and mispronouncing sounds.

Reading Rockets >

Offers five approaches for building phonological awareness. Elkonin boxes help students segment words into individual phonemes. Sound games can also build phonemic awareness.
 

Reading Rockets >

Synthesizes research findings and includes three summary tables that have activities for developing awareness of onset and rhyme, and building simple and compound phonemic awareness.

READING BY PHONICS >

Provides activities and worksheets using phoneme blending, segmenting, addition/ subtraction, isolation/ identification, and substitution. Includes a video with a student working on blending.

Sound Beginnings includes games where players match the correct letter/ sound relationships of a word identified by a picture. The interactive app builds phonics skills and helps develop reading skills.

Phonics Phones provides directions for making phonics phones and a list of situations when they can be useful. Phonics phones amplify students' voices and help them to focus and pay attention to the sounds.

The role of phonemic awareness in learning to read
L. Ehri and S. Nunes

Distinguishes between phonemic awareness, phonological awareness, and phonics. Describes specific ways that students can manipulate phonemes in spoken words using letters.

Phonological awareness: An essential component of reading instruction.
M. Hougen

Includes a table with a sequence for phonemic awareness instruction, starting with rhyme and ending with individual phonemes. Provides sound manipulation activities for each stage.

Supporting phonemic awareness development in the classroom                 H.K. Yopp and R.H. Yopp

Includes a table with a sequence for phonemic awareness instruction, starting with rhyme and ending with individual phonemes. Provides sound manipulation activities for each stage.

Assessment and instruction in phonemic awareness and word recognition skills             
S. Al Otaiba, M. Kosanovich, & J. Torgesen

Distills research into three ways that phonemic awareness helps children learn how to read. Presents ways to assess PA in order to inform instruction and identify learning needs.

PHonemic awareness instruction helps children learn to read: Evidence from the National Reading Panel’s meta-analysis  
L.C. Ehri, S.R. Nunes, D.M. Willows, B.V. Schuster, Z. Yaghoub-Zadeh, & T. Shanahan

Summarizes the NRP’s findings in 2001, specifically in relation to PA instruction. Recommends isolating one or two PA skills at a time when teaching both at-risk and general student populations.

Purposeful play for early childhood phonological awareness.
H.K. Yopp and R.H. Yopp

Includes multisensory lessons focusing on skills needed to develop stronger phonological awareness. Students learn how to isolate sounds and identify words, syllables, rhymes, and phonemes.

Phonological awareness: From research to practice. 
G.T. Gillon

Offers strategies for helping preschoolers to adolescents acquire phonological awareness skills. A useful tool for educators looking for intervention strategies and assessment ideas.


REFERENCES:

Al Otaiba, S., Kosanovich, M., & Torgesen, J. (2012). Assessment and instruction in phonemic awareness and word recognition skills. In A.G. Kamhi & H.W. Catts (Eds.), Language basis of reading disabilities (Chapter 5). 

Ehri, L. & Nunes, S. (2002). The role of phonemic awareness in learning to read. In S.J. Samuels & A.E. Farstrup (Eds.), What research has to say about reading instruction (Chapter 6). 

Ehri, L.C., Nunes, S.R., Willows, D.M., Schuster, B.V., Yaghoub-Zadeh, Z., & Shanahan, T. (2001). Phonemic awareness instruction helps children learn to read: Evidence from the National Reading Panel’s meta-analysis. Reading Research Quarterly, 36(3), 250-287. 

Gillon, G.T. (2004). Phonological awareness: From research to practice. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Hougen, M. (2016). Phonological awareness: An essential component of reading instruction. Targeting the 2 Percent, 5, 1-9. 

Yopp, H.K. & Yopp, R.H. (2000). Supporting phonemic awareness development in the classroom. The Reading Teacher, 54(2), 130-143. 

Yopp, H.K. & Yopp, R.H. (2011). Purposeful play for early childhood phonological awareness. Huntington Beach, CA: Shell Education.