While it might be hard to say “phonological awareness” is a critical reading skill for kids to learn in order to become successful readers. It’s also an early indicator of kids struggling with reading as it involves being able to hear and understand words and individual sound often referred to as the “sound system of language.” In this activity we will walk you through the importance of phonological awareness and share a fun way for parents to practice at home with their child.

Phonological awareness is the ability to detect and manipulate sounds in language. It includes skills like counting the number of words in a sentence or finding words that rhyme. Research shows that phonological awareness is highly predictive of later reading success, which is why it is important to start developing those skills as early as Kindergarten. In addition, children with dyslexia or other reading difficulties often have difficulty with processing spoken language (phonemic awareness), which is why it’s that much more important for parents to help their child master this skill.

Try this fun, family-friendly activity at home to help grow your child’s phonological awareness skills:

  • Flip through some magazines, print out some clipart, or even draw some pictures. Look for pictures that represent compound words. Compound words are words that are made up of two individual words, like football, cupcake, and sunshine.
  • Cut out the pictures of the compound words and spread them on the table. Have your child pick one of the pictures and cut it in half.  This symbolizes breaking the word into two individual words (fig. 1).
  • Have your child tell you the two individual words that made up that one compound word. For example, the word cupcake is made up of two individual words: cup and cake.
  • Then, have your child glue the two picture parts together onto a colorful piece of paper to symbolize blending the word back together to make the word, cupcake (fig. 2).
Figure 1 – Cut the picture in two


Phonological Awareness - Figure 1

Figure 2 – Glue the picture back together


Interested in continuing to develop your child’s phonological awareness?

Our new program, EarlyBird at Home, focuses on this and the other building blocks of literacy. The program combines a fun game-based skill development app with our award-winning EarlyBird Assessment, dedicated support from a Literacy Specialist, and additional resources to help parents support their children.

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Get your child started on their reading journey with EarlyBird at Home