Bruce Murray, College of Education The Reading Genie


Basic Components of a Phoneme Awareness Lesson

1. Choose one phoneme to teach.

Consonants are usually easier phonemes and typical of phoneme awareness lessons. However, phonics lessons review vowel phonemes. Example: /s/, /f/, or /m/.

2. Devise a sound analogy, picture, and hand gesture for your phoneme, and display its principal grapheme.

Example: Letter S is for /s/, like a sneaky snake. Can you hiss like a snake? Gesture: Weave hand and arm side to side.

Sneaky Snake /s/
Sneaky Snake /s/

Example: The hummingbird is the smallest bird. It hovers by beating its wings 50-60 times a second.  That makes a humming sound. Gesture: Fingers as wings.

Hummingbird /m/
Hummingbird /m/

3. Make an alliterative “tongue tickler.”

Have students stretch or split off your phoneme in the tickler.*

Example: Sam said he was sorry he put salt in Sally’s sandwich.

Stretch it:  Sssam sssaid he was sssorry . . .

Split it: S-am s-aid he was s-orry . . .

4. Have students study the mouth move for your phoneme.

Consider using mirrors to see the mouth moves.

Example: F stands for /f/. It looks like a toothbrush, and it sounds like brushing teeth. What’s your mouth doing with /f/?  Brush /f/ in our tickler: The funny fly flew far to the flowers.

Toothbrush /f/
Toothbrush /f/

Example: L stands for /l/, the light saber sound.
What’s your mouth doing with /l/? Raise your light saber! Cut /l/ in our twister: Lisa lost the lizard’s large lemon. 

Lightsaber /l/
Lightsaber /l/

5. Provide a model of how to find your phoneme in a spoken word.

Example: Let’s see if sneaky snake /s/ is in pest. I’ll know it’s there if the air hisses over my tongue. P-p-p-e-e-e-st. P-e-e-e-sss. . . There, in the middle I hissed like a snake. That was /s/!   We do say /s/ in pest!

Let me check lift. Lll-i-i-i-fff-t. Nope, no sneaky snake in lift.

6. Add phoneme-finding practice by testing spoken words.

When we taste something good, we say, “Mm-m-m!”

Girl eating orange

Example: Do you hear /m/ in Mom or Dad?  In send or mail? In beef or ham?

I’ll name some food. If they have /m/ in them, go m-m-m. If they don’t, say “yuck.” Ham, fish, lima beans, ice cream, cereal, chocolate cake, marshmallows. What am I saying: roo-m? crea-m? sli-me?  What am I saying: m-oon? m-ess?

7. Apply phoneme awareness in phonetic cue reading— decoding the first letters of rhyming words.

Example: We use M to write the Mm-m-m sound.  Is this made or fade? Might or fightFind or mindFan or man?

Return to the Reading Genie homepage.

Last modified: February 24, 2018