Teaching students to hear the beginning sounds in words is the third step in their phonological awareness development.
If we want our students to be able to read and write with decoding fluency, we must teach them how to hear initial sounds well before they can hear individual sounds!
The steps in phonological awareness, in order, are:
word recognition (sentences)
onset-rime recognition --- This is an important step!
Onset is the beginning sound. The rime is the rest of the word, from the vowel on.
It is easy for students to hear the onset and rime in one syllable words.
FYI- I suggest that you don't teach your students the term "onset and rime."
I teach my students onset, but not rime-- it will confuse them between rime and rhyme.
Materials I needed were my "baggie packets" with either all materials, or just those for onset and rime. Click here to see how to make the packets!
*Attached is an anchor chart that I like to use to teach students about onset (and rime). I like to leave the word onset showing and cover the word "rime"- read about that in the section below! In any case, I love the anchor chart and I use it to refer to or hang up throughout the year.
This introduction should be done once in small groups.
I might repeat this introduction one or two times throughout the year if the students aren't seeming to remember the rules.
*Beginning sounds are easy for most, but should be practiced regularly for some! For my speech students or those who may have hearing difficulty or slow language development, just saying things slowly isn't concrete enough! Moving manipulatives is a much more brain-connected concept for students and it helps make their skills much more stable!
"The onset is the first sound we can hear in a word. Words are made up of different sounds and parts; the first sound you hear is called the onset. Can you say onset?" (Students will say "Onset.") "Right! The first sound we hear in a word is called the onset!
Today, I am going to work with you to hear how to pull out the first sound in a word."
I need one baggie to model using the manipulatives for your students. I talk about the color that represents onset (and rime, or as I say, "the rest of the word"). I continue to reinforce that the onset is the first sound you hear in a word. When I use my paper pieces, I make sure they are facing the students so they can see what it will look like right in front of them.
I begin with CVC words. "Watch how I pull out the first sound I hear in a word. My word is: map." As I say map, I run my finger under both squares as they are touching. They are touching to show they are one word. "Map."
"Now, listen to me pull out the first part of the word. M...... ap."
I pull one square apart at a time, as I say "m"... and "ap."
"Now I will touch the first sound I heard and the rest."
(I touch each square as you say each part.)
"Now, I will blend the word back together." (I move the two squares so they are touching again.) "Map." "I can navigate a road using a map."
(I make sure to have the students repeat all of my sentences, to make a connection.)
I take out my baggies and pass one to each student. I go through the same process, listed above, with my students. At this point, I need to continue to model as they do it- they will most likely have to watch and follow me for the first few words. I continue to use CVC words throughout the lesson and do one other word at the end of this lesson- CVC words are easier for students to hear in the initial lesson.
"We are going to find the beginning sounds in words. Our word is: sip."
I have them put their squares together and connected.
"Let's say our word: sip. We need to run our finger under the word as we say it.... sip"
"Now, let's move one square for the beginning sound you hear and the rest of the word.
As they say sip, I show them to move their left and then show them to move their right rectangle. "Touch s...... Touch ip."
"Now, we have found the beginning sound,s, and the rest, ip. Let's stick them back together and blend them into one word."
"Students should move their squares back together where they are touching.
"Use your finger as we say the whole word.... Sip." (I make sure students track under the whole word- if they don't, I show them how and do that last part again.)
"I can sip a milkshake."
I repeat and let them practice, scaffolding down my support.
I like to see how the groups do with a word by themselves. If they were able to do this well, I move on and work on many different words. If the groups were unable to find the beginning sounds in the words very well, I repeat this same lesson next time... If I repeat the lesson again to re-teach, I skip the introductory part and just jump into it.
This practice can be done in small or whole group and can be practices as many times per week, throughout the year, as necessary. However, once students are able to hear individual sounds on a consistent basis, this practice should be done minimally. (I make sure to remember that it is still helpful to have students listen for individual beginning (etc) sounds for spelling purposes.)
The routine is as follows:
The teacher says a sentence.
The teacher says the word, pulled out of the sentence.
The students repeat the word.
"Now we will pull out the beginning sound in the word. Our word is: ________."
Students will run their finger under both squares as they are touching. They are touching to show they are one word. Students will say the word.
"Now, we will pull out the beginning sound with our squares and touch each part as we say it."
Students will pull one square apart at a time, as you say the beginning and the rest of word.
Students will touch one square and say that word part, then move to the next and do the same.
"Now, we will blend the word back together."
Students will say the whole word.
The teacher will use the word in a sentence.
The students will repeat the sentence.
The teacher has a student use the word in their own sentence.
Assessing this task is easy- I watch and listen. As students are moving their manipulatives, I watch their movements and listen to their sounds. If students are having difficulties, I like to talk through the lesson with them, as you can see in the video. I will give students my example until they can do this exercise well independently- then I can watch their learning in motion!
I like to extend this task into centers to provide extra practice and help students become more efficient when quickly finding initial sounds and blending them with the rest of the words. Attached are some activities I like to use in centers to strengthen this skill!