Stage 0: Foundation for Literacy
Stage 1: Beginning Literacy
Primary: Phonemic Awareness
1. Select sentences from a familiar story or poem based on students’ interest and language abilities
2. Modify each sentence by changing the first sound in a word
a. For example: “The ants go parching” and “Five little monkeys bumping on the bed”
1. Tell students that you are going to read them a familiar poem or story, but something will be wrong!
2. Invite students to close their eyes and listen carefully
3. Read one line of your nonsense poem or story, emphasizing the phoneme you changed
a. Ask the students if they noticed anything wrong with the sentence
4. Read the original sentence, emphasizing the correct phoneme
5. Reread the modified sentence
6. Ask students if they can pick out the difference between the two sentences
a. Help students to identify the two different words
b. Say the two words, emphasizing the change from one phoneme to another
c. Note that the difference in the first sound changes the word and its meaning
7. Repeat the activity with different sentences from the same story or poem
1. Read a nonsense sentence from a story or poem
a. Do not read the correct sentence this time
2. Ask students if they can guess the correct sentence from the story or poem
3. Have students identify the two words that were different and the first sound that changed
4. Repeat process as many times as desired
a. Ensure that all students have the opportunity to participate in sharing the difference or saying the
English Language Learners/ESL:
- Choose familiar poems or stories
- Ensure students understand the task by following up and repeating instructions if necessary
LD/Reading & Writing Difficulties:
- Read your chosen poem with students in advance
- Allow students to participate by saying the correct sentence if they are unable to note phonemic differences
Cultural Appropriateness & Diversity:
- Select stories and poems that are representative of the diverse cultures present in the classroom and the community
- Divide students into ability groups and vary the complexity of the sentences used - Work with students individually
Adams, M., Foorman, B., Lundberg, I., Beeler, T. (1998). Phonemic Awareness in Young Children. Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing.
Yopp, H. K. & Yopp, R. H. (2000). Supporting phonemic awareness development in the classroom. The Reading Teacher, 54, 130-143.
The goal of What's Wrong With This Poem?: Developing Phonemic Awareness is to help students notice differences between phonemes by making funny changes to familiar stories or poems.
What You Need
5-10 minutes - Modify sentences from familiar stories or poems by changing the first phoneme in a word
2, 15-minute sessions Session 1: - Teacher reads modified sentences and real sentences - Teacher helps students determine the two words that are different - Students identify which phoneme has changed
Session 2: - Teacher reads modified sentences only - Students correct the sentences - Students identify the phoneme that has changed
Teacher: - Book of familiar stories, nursery rhymes, or poems
What You Do
Facilitator: - during reading of modified sentences and class discussion of sentences
Whole Group: - during reading of modified sentences and discussion
- Informally observe students' ability to detect the phonemic differences in the words that they hear
- Change this activity to develop different literacy skills, like vocabulary and sentence structure
a. Substitute words: "Mary had a jumbo lamb."
b. Swap word order: "Twinkle twinkle star little"
c. Switch order of events: "Humpty Dumpty had
a great fall, Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall."
- Have students come up with their own nonsense sentences and have a partner figure out the changes
In addition to changing initial phonemes in spoken words, like "bed" to "jed", you can also play with the sounds in words in other ways. An easier phonological awareness activity would be to have students make funny sentences by coming up with rhyming words to replace the original words. A more difficult activity would be to change vowel phonemes or consonant blends and have students identify the switch, for example:
a. "Twunkle twunkle little star" b. "Three grind mice"