Examples to promote phonological awareness

​This page has example activities to develop the major phonological awareness skills. It's important to remember that phonological awareness activities do not have to occur with the written letters. Initially, working on phonological awareness takes place without the written word (using real objects, pictures, and counters for instance).

As phonological awareness activities develop it's important for students to participate in phonological awareness activities that link sounds (phonemes) to letter patterns (graphemes). 

Allington et al. (1998) note the importance of using a range of resources purposefully such as nursery rhymes, riddles, songs, poems, and read-aloud books that manipulate sounds to draw young learners’ attention to the sounds of spoken language.

For example, using a familiar rhyme such as Five Little Monkeys provides a playful and meaningful context for young learners:

Five little monkeys jumping on the bed
One fell off and bumped his head
Mama called the doctor and the doctor said,
“No more monkeys jumping on the bed!”

Phonological awareness activities and lessons should broadly involve:

  • Highlighting phonological awareness concepts in songs, rhymes, poems, stories, and written texts
  • Finding patterns of rhyme, initial/final sound, onset/rime, consonants and vowels, by:
  • Matching pictures to other pictures
  • Matching pictures to sound-letter patterns (graphemes)
  • Matching pictures to words
  • Matching words to other words
  • Using games to practise the awareness of syllables, rhyme, initial/final sound, and individual sounds in words.

The examples below provide some ways to incorporate phonological awareness into everyday classroom activities.

Example activities:

Syllable awareness

Students sit in a circle. Each student claps the syllables in their name e.g. Lu-cy (clap, clap) 

This could also be done with claves, other forms of body percussion     

Group time rhymes with movement, stamping feet for the beat or syllable - e.g. feet, feet, feet, feet, march-ing up and down the street    

Mystery bag - fill with familiar objects, students pull out an object, name it, clap the syllables - e.g. 'lion' - li-on, 'ball' - ball, 'octopus' - oct-o-pus    

Set up a t-chart on the carpet (could use string or masking tape), children choose an object from around the room to bring to the carpet and classify depending on the number of syllables e.g. the t-chart may have 1-syllable and 2+ syllables, children place their objects accordingly (hat in 1 syllable, pen-cil in 2+ syllable)   

Foundation Level Lesson: Developing Syllable Awareness

Text: I Went Walking by Sue Williams and Julie Vivas 

About the text: A little girl goes for a walk and meets a number of colourful farm animals along the way.

The text contains

  • Repeated sentence structures
  • Questions and answers
  • Supporting text matching the illustrations
  • Rhythm and rhyme

Links to the curriculum

Victorian Curriculum (English), Reading and Viewing: Language-Expressing and developing ideas:
Foundation: Recognise that texts are made up of words and groups of words that make meaning (Content description VCELA144)

Victorian Curriculum (English), Reading and Viewing: Literacy-Interpreting, analysing, evaluating:
Foundation: Read texts with familiar structures and features, practising phrasing and fluency, and monitor meaning using concepts about print and emerging phonic, semantic, contextual and grammatical knowledge (Content description VCELY152)

Victorian Curriculum (English), Speaking and Listening: Language-Phonics and word knowledge:
Foundation: Identify rhyming words, alliteration patterns, syllables and some sounds (phonemes) in spoken words (Content description VCELA168)

Theory/practice connections

A component of phonology is syllable awareness. Understanding syllables, that is, understanding that words can be broken up into parts, helps students to decode words when reading and spell words when writing. Before focusing on syllables in print, it is important that students develop an auditory awareness of syllables. Children’s literature which has rhymes and repetition provides an engaging context for students to develop their skills in syllabification.

Additional resources

Objects and pictures for follow up work.

Learning intentions

We are learning to identify the syllables in words.

Success Criteria

I can clap the rhythm of the text.

I can clap the syllables in words with one, two or three syllables.

I can classify words into groups according to the number of syllables.

Group Size

Small group

Lesson process

  1. Read I Went Walking to the students, encouraging choral reading of the text.
  2. Repeat the reading, encouraging students to read along and clap to the rhythm of the text.
  3. Have the text written on long sentence strips and use a pointer to highlight syllables. Students clap along to the rhythm and identify the words that have two claps (two syllables) – walking, looking, yellow
  4. Read again and use different body percussion for one and two syllable words.
  5. Read again and students use percussion instruments to highlight syllables.
  6. Students focus on the colour of the animals and find the colours that have two claps.
  7. Follow up activity: Students classify objects or pictures according to the number of syllables.


Ask students to clap out parts of the text.

Differentiated practice

For beginning readers, syllables can be identified through claps and discussed as ‘the claps in words’. Once students are comfortable with the concept, the term syllables can be used. For students who can identify syllables in one and two syllable words, multisyllabic words can be introduced. These students can be helped to recognise syllables in multisyllabic words by noticing that each syllable has a vowel sound and that their jaw drops each time they say a syllable. More advanced readers will be able to  identify syllables in written words

  • rhyming card games
  • sorting objects by rhyme
  • storybooks with rhyme - for example, Hairy Maclary, Room on the Broom, The Gruffalo
  • I have, who has? Students have a card/object, they need to find the other student in the class that has a card/object that rhymes with theirs - e.g. the student with a frog needs to find the student with a dog
  • book with song - One Elephant Went Out To Play
  • using songs with actions to highlight rhyming:

    My hands a feeling chilly,
    I think they're turning blue I need something to warm them up but what can I do?

    I can rub them, rub them, wriggle them around,
    I can shake them, shake them and bang them on the ground.

    I can rub them, rub them, wriggle them around,
    I can shake them, shake them and bang them on the ground.

For more information, see: In-Practice Example: Identifying and generating rhyming words  

  • poetry reading - Kenn Nesbitt has some examples, also how to write poems using alliteration
  • analysing a poem to find all the alliteration (this can be highlighted)
  • book reading - e.g. Fox in Socks (Dr Seuss), Hairy Maclary
  • making up own alliteration poems as a class/small groups
  • using tongue-twisters
  • using (and/or making) word wheels, recording the words made. This can be done individually on small whiteboards or posters in groups
  • sorting words by rime - this could be done on the interactive whiteboard, students can move words into like groups, e.g. all the words ending in -at grouped together
  • 'chunks' game - students choose an onset and rime, if it makes a real word they keep it, if it is a non-word it goes back in the pile. e.g. 'tr' and 'ack' = track - real word, 'cl' and 'at' = clat - non-word
  • matching games with onset card and corresponding rime card (e.g. sparklebox resources)
  • roll a word - onset (one dice), rime (second dice), read the word then write down under word/non-word
  • word families

For more information, visit: In-Practice Example: Blend and segment onset and rime

Initial and final sounds
  • sorting objects or pictures by the initial or final sounds
  • bingo
  • labelling initial sounds of objects in a drawing response
  • word study - highlighting initial sounds and final sounds

Foundation lesson-Initial sounds

Text: I Went Walking by Sue Williams and Julie Vivas  

About the text A little girl goes for a walk and meets a number of colourful farm animals along the way.  

The text contains

  • repeated sentence structures
  • questions and answers
  • supporting text matching the illustrations
  • rhythm and rhyme

Links to the curriculum

Victorian Curriculum (English), Reading and viewing: Language.  

Victorian Curriculum (English), Reading and Viewing: Literacy.  

  • Read texts with familiar structures and features, practising phrasing and fluency, and monitor meaning using concepts about print and emerging phonic, semantic, contextual and grammatical knowledge (Content description VCELY152)

Victorian Curriculum (English), Writing: Phonics and word knowledge.  

  • Understand that spoken sounds and words can be written and know how to write some high-frequency words and other familiar words including their name (Content description VCELA157)

Victorian Curriculum (English), Speaking and listening: Language  

Theory/practice connections

Repeated readings of text affords students the opportunity to address fluency, phrasing and expression. Reading a text multiple times, with early readers, allows students to focus on a particular aspect of literacy, within a familiar context. Repeated readings can occur individually, with a partner or in a group.  

Additional resources

Cards with the colour adjectives and names of the animals written on them – such as green duck, brown horse, red cow.  

Learning intention:

We are learning to use the first sound to help us read words.  

Success criteria:

I can identify the first sound of words.  

I can make the first sound in words.  

I can find words in text by looking at the first sound.  

I can re-read a text to improve my fluency.  

Group size

Small group

Lesson sequence

  1. Read the text I Went Walking by Sue Williams and Julie Vivas.
  2. Students are given a set of cards with the names of the animals from the story written on them – black cat, red cow, yellow dog etc. Re-read the text stopping at the name of the animals. Students find the animal name and colour from their card set.
  3. Encourage students to justify their reasoning for selecting a card. Assist students to focus on initial sounds.
  4. Assessment Provide students with a few sentences from the text, which have been cut up and re-arranged. Students use their knowledge of the text and the initial sounds of words to arrange the words into their correct order.
  5. Innovate on the text to create a group big book. Students illustrate and use for choral reading. Students use their developing knowledge of initial sounds to identify the words for the animal and its description.

Differentiated Practice

More support for students who are not yet confident with phonics can be provided through illustrated alphabet cards. The teacher can encourage students to draw upon their phonemic awareness by asking comparison questions, and referring to the alphabet cards. For example: Does cow start with the same sound as car or moon, cow/car or cow/moon.  

Focus on final letter/sounds, for students who are confident with identifying initial sounds. Words from the text written on cards can be sorted to identify and compare final sounds. For example, ‘red’ and ‘bird’ both end with the ‘d’ sound. For students confident with phonics, more complex patterns can be explored through the inclusion of other animals not in the text, such as, cheetah, rhinoceros and llama.  

Segmenting words into sounds and blending sounds into words
  • interactive whiteboard - drag letters to form CVC words (this can be extended), children blend the sounds together to make a real word
  • guess-the-word game
  • segmenting - How many sounds can you hear? This can be recorded/graphed on paper and clip board
  • using magnetic letters to pull words apart by sound, moving them around on a whiteboard, blending and segmenting
Deleting and manipulating sounds in words
  • using letter magnets to change words by deleting or manipulating letters - this could also be done on the whiteboard

In practice examples