A Sound Start: Phonemic Awareness Lessons for Reading Success


This book is an ideal resource for any teacher who wants to include explicit phonemic awareness instruction in an early reading program. One easy-to-use 8 1/2" x 11" volume provides three separate sets of phonemic awareness lessons, complete with scripted directions and reproducible learning materials and assessment tools. Incorporating a variety of fun and engaging activities, each set of lessons is field-tested and research-based. Teachers can choose from developmentally sequenced lessons for the whole class ...

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This book is an ideal resource for any teacher who wants to include explicit phonemic awareness instruction in an early reading program. One easy-to-use 8 1/2" x 11" volume provides three separate sets of phonemic awareness lessons, complete with scripted directions and reproducible learning materials and assessment tools. Incorporating a variety of fun and engaging activities, each set of lessons is field-tested and research-based. Teachers can choose from developmentally sequenced lessons for the whole class and small groups, more intensive lessons for children struggling with phonemic awareness, and class lessons on the consonant phonemes to help children hear and process the sounds of American English. The lesson sets can be used independently or in combination with each other, and can easily be adapted to meet the needs of specific classes.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A particular strength of this well-organized book is the inclusion of materials for both whole-class and individual lessons. This makes it an ideal resource for speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and other special service providers working with general education teachers to provide early literacy instruction and intervention for typically developing children as well as those with language and literacy learning risks. Ideally, the shared use of this book will give teachers, graduate students, and SLPs a common way of talking about language and its sounds that they can embed in other reading and writing instruction within the general education curriculum."--Nickola Wolf Nelson, PhD, CCC-SLP, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, Western Michigan University

"The National Reading Panel, of which I am a member, strongly recommends phonemic awareness training as part of early instruction in reading. A Sound Start contains many excellent and useful ideas for those who want to start students on the road to high achievement in reading. This text should be of great value to teachers, teacher educators, and others concerned with the science of sound reading instruction."--S. Jay Samuels, EdD, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus

"Finally, completely scripted classroom lessons for helping children develop the phonemic awareness skills essential for successful reading acquisition! Empirically based and field-tested for effectiveness and usability, the lessons include step-by-step directions and all materials necessary for implementation, including pre- and posttests and reproducible student forms. Unique to this book is the provision of three types of lessons: whole-class/small-group phonemic awareness skills lessons, individualized lessons for children needing extra assistance, and whole-class lessons focusing on the acoustic features and production of phonemes to reinforce learning. Teachers, tutors, and reading specialists alike will find this book a wonderful resource."--Natalie Rathvon, PhD, Early Reading Initiative project director, Archdiocese of Washington Schools, Washington, DC

"Many want to develop phonemic awareness competencies in children but do not know where to start. This book provides systematic and sound guidance to teachers of beginning readers. The lessons it contains also provide a great start on phonics, developing deep understanding of letter-sound associations and phonemic blending as part of word recognition and production."--Michael Pressley, PhD, Michigan State University

Offering guidance for the inclusion of explicit phonemic awareness instruction in early reading programs, this book supplies three distinct sets of lessons, with scripted directions, reproducible materials, and assessment tools. They include sequenced lessons for entire classes or small groups, more intensive lessons for children having trouble with phonemes, and class lessons focusing on consonant phonemes. The lessons may be used independently, or in conjunction. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781572307612
  • Publisher: Guilford Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 4/26/2002
  • Series: Solving Problems in the Teaching of Literacy Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 297
  • Sales rank: 1,519,988
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Christine E. McCormick, PhD, is Professor of Psychology at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois, where she teaches courses in developmental psychology, early childhood assessment, and early reading. She has a doctoral degree in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota and is a former Montessori teacher and school psychologist. Widely published, she brings to this book over 25 years of experience in developing early reading materials for young children.

Rebecca N. Throneburg, PhD, is Associate Professor of Communication Disorders and Sciences Department at Eastern Illinois University, where she teaches courses in normal language development, phonological awareness, and language and literacy. Her doctoral degree in speech-language pathology is from the University of Illinois. She conducts research in the school setting regarding service delivery and collaboration among professionals.

Jean M. Smitley, MS, is Associate Professor of Communication Disorders and Sciences Department at Eastern Illinois University, where she teaches a course in phonetics and phonological development. She has also collaborated with kindergarten teachers to provide phonological awareness training to kindergartners. Her master's degree is from Eastern Illinois University, and she has focused on reading development and disabilities in her postgraduate course work.

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Read an Excerpt

A Sound Start

Phonemic Awareness Lessons for Reading Success
By Christine E. McCormick Rebecca N. Throneburg Jean M. Smitley

The Guilford Press

Copyright © 2002 The Guilford Press
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-57230-761-7

Chapter One

Introduction to the Whole-Class and Small-Group Lessons


Chapter 3 contains whole-class and small-group lessons for instruction of phonemic awareness skills that can be used by preschool, kindergarten, or first-grade teachers. These lessons should be taught as one part of a broader early-reading curriculum. Although the classroom teacher may independently deliver the phonemic awareness lessons, collaboration with other professionals such as speech-language pathologists, reading resource teachers, or school psychologists might also be considered. Many professionals are aware of the critical link between phonemic awareness skills success and learning to read. These professionals can assist with delivery of the small-group component of these lessons or might well be helpful in brainstorming modifications that can be made to the large-group lessons to fit the needs of your class.

Children need to develop a working knowledge as well as a conscious understanding of the sounds and sound structure of our language. Explicitly explaining the vocabulary and concepts related to the various phonological awareness tasks (e.g., blending,syllables, rhyme) is important. At a workshop recently, an audience member asked if we used the word "syllable" in a kindergarten class or if we just referred to syllables as parts of words. It was explained that it is necessary to use the terms (e.g., syllable, word, rhyme, sound, letter) to define the target area along with a definition the children can understand (e.g., the parts of a word). A kindergarten teacher with whom one of the authors collaborates reported a child asking his mother in the car, "Mom, do you know how many syllables are in the word hippopotamus?" This example shows that the child is beginning to understand how to think about words independent of their meaning.


The following lessons are based on developmental information (Moats, 2000) and the authors' own experiences in presenting these lessons. It takes varying time and practice for children to develop the ability to attend to the sounds in a word and to manipulate these sounds.

We have designed the 20 whole-class lessons so that the first 10 focus on the larger unit phonemic awareness skills (e.g., rhyming, word/syllable awareness, onset-rime) and Lessons 11-20 focus on the phoneme (e.g., isolation of beginning, middle and ending sounds; phoneme counting, blending, and segmenting).

An outline of the skills targeted each week is listed below:

Week Area targeted

1 Concept of words

2 Rhyme recognition and discrimination

3 Rhyme choice

4 Rhyme production

5 Syllable awareness/counting

6 Syllable blending

7 Syllable deletion

8 Onset-rime blending

9 Onset-rime blending

10 Review/assessment of rhyme production, blending syllables, and blending onset-rime

11 Initial sound identification

12 Initial sound production

13 Final sound identification

14 Final sound production

15 Medial sound production

16 Phoneme counting

17 Phoneme blending

18 Phoneme blending

19 Phoneme segmentation

20 Review/assessment of initial, medial, and final sound identification; phoneme counting, segmenting, blending, and deleting

The teacher should feel free to adapt the activities in each lesson to the class response. For example, if many children in the class are experiencing difficulty blending onsets and rimes into words, the teacher may wish to spend one more week on that skill. Also, suggestions for additional related activities are provided for each lesson so that the teacher can provide more practice on any skill necessary to meet the needs of the class.


The whole-class lessons presented here should take approximately 30 minutes. Beginning with an introduction to the specific skill, the teacher should explicitly state and explain the skill. The introduction to the various phonemic awareness skills is necessary to describe the task to the class. The introduction is the time when children are focused and presentation of multiple examples of the skill can be given. For example, we have had three people be a train (engine, train car, and caboose) and chug in front of the classroom. First, the engine says a sound, next the train car says a sound, and then the caboose says a sound; finally the class blends the phonemes into a word. Materials such as puppets and objects are suggested to make the introduction informative yet enjoyable.

We have included literature with these lessons to help link phonemic awareness to reading. The stories allow children to look at pictures, follow a sequence of events, listen to oral speech, and practice phonemic awareness skills. The literature also often provides a theme which is then incorporated in whole-class or small-group activities. The books included in these lessons are available in most libraries. Alternative books and a listing of the materials needed for each lesson are included in the Appendix.

The whole-class activities provide a simple way to ensure that all children have the opportunity to develop these phonemic awareness skills. The children are often active during these activities and take turns manipulating words, sounds, etc. Sometimes the children participate by responding to or vocalizing particular sounds, words, or syllables during activities. Music, gross motor activity (e.g., jumping or clapping to syllables), and visual stimuli help the children realize that it can be fun to analyze words. It is suggested that children sit in circles for some of the whole-class activities, but that may not be possible dependent upon the size of the classroom. Be flexible in adapting the lesson to fit the needs of the children in the class.

The small-group activity can be used for all children in the class if you have enough time to implement multiple small groups throughout the week. An alternative is to invite assistants (parents, teacher assistants, speech pathologist, or other professionals) to help, with each adult instructing a small group simultaneously. You may also decide that your time and resources allow for only one or two small-group lessons. The small-group lessons can then be used to provide extra assistance to the children in your class who seem to be struggling with the concepts presented in the whole-class format. Use the assessment data along with classroom performance to determine which small group or groups of children are most in need of additional practice.


Phonemic awareness lessons equivalent to the ones included in this book were provided in two kindergarten classrooms during the 1997/98 school year. In the first classroom, all children received the whole-class and small-group components of the phonemic awareness lessons. The lessons were collaboratively taught by the classroom teacher, a speech-language pathologist, and other teaching assistants. In the second classroom, the classroom teacher independently presented the whole-class lessons and other related activities, but none of the children received small-group instruction. In both of the first two classrooms where phonemic awareness was taught, the classroom teacher also taught a letter-sound/letter-name approach to early reading instruction. In a third classroom, the classroom teacher provided a letter-sound/letter-name approach to early reading instruction without a phonemic awareness component. All of the children in the three classes were tested at the beginning and end of kindergarten with the Phonological Awareness Test (PAT) (Robertson & Salter, 1997). The mean gain of the class that received both the whole-class and small-group lessons was 50 points. The mean gain of the class that received only the whole-class lessons and related activities was 33 points. The mean gain of the class that received the traditional instruction without a phonemic awareness component was 14 points (Barnes, Smitley, & Throneburg, 1998).

During the 1999/2000 school year the whole-class and small-group lessons were provided in four kindergarten classrooms. All children were individually assessed with the Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening (PALS) with the exceptions of the individual rhyme and concept of word sections (Invernizzi & Meier, 1997). The test evaluated skills of rhyming, initial sound identification, letter-sound knowledge, and single-word reading and spelling. Figure 2.1 presents each of the four classrooms' test scores at the beginning and end of the year as well as the difference or gain between the two tests. On the total test score, 112 points were possible. More than 80 children participated in the lessons from the four classes. At the end of the year, most of the children in these classes evidenced substantial gains in the skills during kindergarten, with average class posttest scores that were more than four times greater than average pretest scores. Only six children (7%) were significantly below the class means at the end of the school year (Throneburg, Smitley, & Hilgenberg, 2000).


Assessment of phonemic awareness skills can be accomplished through a number of published assessment tools, such as the PAT, or by informal means. It is recommended that the assessment include evaluation of rhyming, syllable and phoneme blending, as well as initial and final sound identification.

We have included a brief 26-item informal assessment of these phonemic awareness skills at the end of this chapter: 8 items evaluate rhyming judgment and production; 10 items evaluate blending syllables, onset-rime, and phonemes; and 8 items evaluate initial and final sound identification. This assessment also contains three optional sections that evaluate phonics/sound-letter knowledge. The optional section includes 19 items to evaluate sound-letter skills, 5 items to evaluate the ability to read words that can be phonetically decoded, and 5 items to evaluate writing single words that can be phonetically segmented. Two sets of all the test items are included. One set can be used as a pretest of skills, and a second set can be used later as a posttest of skills to evaluate skill growth over the school year.

The phonemic awareness assessment should be administered individually to children. The nonoptional sections (rhyming, blending, and phoneme identification) usually require less than 10 minutes per child. The average time for the optional sound-letter, reading, and writing sections also varies with the skill of the child, but most children complete the tasks in 5-10 minutes. The optional section is strongly recommended by the end of kindergarten. The assessment may be administered by a teacher, teacher aide, speech-language pathologist, or other education professional. The professional who administers the assessment should be aware of the proper production of speech sounds. (Say individual phonemes without adding a schwa vowel-e.g., /sss/ like a snake sound, not /suh/; /f/, just air blowing, not /fuh/.) Detailed information about the phonemes in the English/American language and the correct pronunciation of the sounds is included in Chapter 6.


Excerpted from A Sound Start by Christine E. McCormick Rebecca N. Throneburg Jean M. Smitley Copyright © 2002 by The Guilford Press. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

1. Phonemic Awareness: An Introduction
-- Phonemic Awareness and Learning to Read
-- Instruction in Phonemic Awareness
-- Assessment of Phonemic Awareness
-- General Instructional Issues
-- The Lessons in This Book
-- References
2. Introduction to the Whole-Class and Small-Group Lessons
-- General Guidelines
-- Sequence of Skills
-- Plan of the Lessons
-- Data on Effectiveness
-- Assessment
-- References
-- Phonemic Awareness Assessment
3. The Whole-Class and Small-Group Lessons
-- Lesson 1: Concept of Words
-- Lesson 2: Rhyme Recognition and Discrimination
-- Lesson 3: Rhyme Choice
-- Lesson 4: Rhyme Production
-- Lesson 5: Syllable Counting
-- Lesson 6: Syllable Blending
-- Lesson 7: Syllable Deletion
Lesson 8: Onset-Rime Blending
Lesson 9: Onset-Rime Blending
Lesson 10: Review of Rhyming and of Syllable and Onset-Rime Blending
Lesson 11: Initial Phoneme Identification
Lesson 12: Initial Phoneme Production
Lesson 13: Final Phoneme Identification
Lesson 14: Final Phoneme Production
Lesson 15: Medial Phoneme Isolation
Lesson 16: Phoneme Counting
Lesson 17: Blending Two- and Three-Phoneme Words
Lesson 18: Phoneme Blending
Lesson 19: Phoneme Segmentation
Lesson 20: Review of Initial, Medial, and Final Sounds and of Phoneme Counting, Blending, and Segmenting
4. Individualized Instruction in Phonemic Awareness
The Individualized Lessons
Assessment for the Individualized Lessons
Effectiveness of the Lessons
Getting Started
Assessment for Individualized Lessons
Progress Chart
5. The Individualized Lessons
Lesson 1: Beginning Sounds /m/ and /s/
Lesson 2: Beginning Sounds /f/ and /n/
Lesson 3: Beginning Sounds /p/ and /t/
Lesson 4: Review of Beginning Sounds
Lesson 5: Letters m and s for Beginning Sounds
Lesson 6: Letters f and n for Beginning Sounds
Lesson 7: Letters p and t for Beginning Sounds
Lesson 8: Letters m, s, and t for Beginning Sounds
Lesson 9: Letters n, p, and t for Beginning Sounds
Lesson 10: Review of Letters for Beginning Sounds
Lesson 11: Letters for n, p, t
Lesson 12: Ending Sounds /n/, /p/, /t/
Lesson 13: Ending Sounds /n/, /p/, /t/
Lesson 14: Beginning Letters m, s, f and Ending Letters n, p, t
Lesson 15: Beginning letters n, p, t and Ending Letters n, p, t
Lesson 16: Letters for Beginning and Ending Sounds
Posttest and Take-Home Tiny Books
6. Phoneme Characteristics and Lessons
Importance of Understanding Phoneme Production
Phonemes in Words
Similarities between Phonemes
Description of Phoneme Production
Lessons for Specific Phonemes
Phoneme /b/ (letter b)
Phoneme /k/ (letters c, k)
Phoneme /d/ (letter d)
Phoneme /f/ (letter f)
Phoneme /g/ (letter g)
Phoneme /h/ (letter h)
Phoneme /?/ (letter j)
Phoneme /l/ (letter l)
Phoneme /m/ (letter m)
Phoneme /n/ (letter n)
Phoneme /p/ (letter p)
Phoneme /r/ (letter r)
Phoneme /s/ (letter s)
Phoneme /t/ (letter t)
Phoneme /v/ (letter v)
Phoneme /w/ (letter w)
Phoneme /j/ (letter y)
Phoneme /z/ (letter z)
Phoneme / / (digraph sh)
Phoneme / / (digraph ch)
Phoneme / /('sing') (digraph ng)
Phonemes / ('thumb') /ð/ ('those') (digraph th)
Appendix: Books, Materials, and Alternative Books for Each Class Lesson
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