Phonemic awareness is an understanding that a word is made up of individual sounds, also called phonemes. A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound that influences a word’s meaning. For example, the phoneme /l/ changes the meaning of “sip” to “slip”. When a child develops phonemic awareness, they are able to manipulate and break down phonemes in a word.
A phoneme can be one letter, such a /d/, or more than one letter /ch/. An important skill for children to learn is identifying phonemes in a word. For example, the word “ten” has three phonemes: /t/, /e/, and /n/. The word “chip” also has three phonemes: /ch/, /o/, and /p/.
Phonemic awareness involves blending, substituting and breaking apart sounds. Blending is when you take individual sounds and blend them into a word. For example, /b/ /e/ /d/ can be blended into the word “bed”. The reverse of blending is breaking apart, such as taking the word “bed” and breaking it into the individual phonemes /b/ /e/ /d/. When we substitute phonemes, we change a sound in a word. For example, when we substitute the initial sound in “bed” (/b/), to /r/, we make the word “red”.
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