Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate sounds in spoken words and is critical for successful reading and spelling. It involves the important skills of segmenting (breaking words into sounds) and blending (blending sounds together to make words). It also includes the advanced skills of deleting, adding or substituting phonemes to make new words. Phonemic awareness is purely oral and an important part of Little Learners Love Literacy®.
Phonemic awareness is a subset of phonological awareness skills continuum – the broader ability to identify sounds of spoken English.
The puppet, Ally the alligator, can only speak in sounds so she provides a great opportunity for children to develop and practise their phonemic awareness skills. We call this 'Ally talk'; Ally asks children to /r/ /u/ /n/ (segmenting the sounds for 'run'). Children say the word and start 'running'. Ally asks them to touch something /r/ /e/ /d/. Children blend the sounds together to say 'red'. They touch something red. Children LOVE the Ally puppet and do the Ally talk themselves.
Every aspect of Little Learners Love Literacy® has a phonemic component. The Sound Box at the beginning of every session introduces children to identifying and segmenting initial sounds. This sound is then linked to a grapheme - speech to print. Phonological and phonemic fun activities for circle time are part of the program from the very beginning and continue into Year 1.
English is a complex alphabetic code with 44 sounds and 26 letters and hundreds of graphemes. Little Learners Love Literacy® teaches the alphabetic code in seven stages, starting with a simple one-to-one match of sounds and letters before moving onto to the more complex code.
The sound /k/ can be represented by these graphemes:
c as in cat (Stage 1)
k as in kit (Stage 4)
ck as in pick (Stage 5)
ch as in school (Stage 7.4)
And many more, less common options such as qu as in mosquito.
Little Learners Love Literacy® is an explicit and sequential phonics program. It explicitly introduces phonemes and corresponding graphemes and teaches children how to blend these phonemes together to read words. Children apply and practise their phonic knowledge and skills by reading the Little Learners decodable books. We currently have two decodable series: Pip and Tim, and The Wiz Kids. We call these the 'secret ingredient' to success and children call them the 'no tricks' books. These books only have words with the phonemes/graphemes the children have learnt. That is why children LOVE them!
Phonics & phonemic awareness together
Many Little Learners Love Literacy resources also combine phonemic awareness and phonics development – activities such as Sound Swap Word Game and Super Spelling. We find this efficient and effective in addition to the pure phonemic awareness work built into the program.