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Hettie's Tips and Tricks: Phonological Awareness

This game is to improve your child’s phonological awareness (PA) skills as they play with sounds. PA is the ability to play with sounds in your head and is foundational for spelling and reading.

You can order a Process Phonics Object Box from or you can make your own box using these or other objects to represent sounds:

First do a scavenger hunt with your child to collect the following objects. Each object stands for a sound.

a apple (It’s important to say the sounds of the letters as you build words instead of the names.)

b bear

c comb

d dog

e egg

f fan

g gum, goat

h horse, hat

i igloo, itch,

j jack-o-lantern

l lion

m mirror, mouse, man, mop

n nut

o octopus

p pipe, pen

qu quarter

r ring

s scissors, sock

t turtle, table

u umbrella

v van

w watch

x box (x says “ks” as in box - this is the only one that doesn’t use the first sound of the word)

y yoyo, yarn

z zipper, zebra

Magic e is an Elephant (The Magic e is also known as Silent e or Bossy e) or I may see it as Scary e because I graduated from Auburn)


sh shovel

ch chick

th thumb, thimble

wh whistle

Play with these objects to make up real or nonsense words. At first keep it to short syllables like ug, at , ip, og, oz, ez , mat, pat, lit, fish, win, fin, fat, cap until these are easy, then do whatever is fun making words or sentences using these sounds.

The idea is to have fun playing with sounds to make words. You also may want to ask each other to change one sound at a time to make a new word. Your child can play with making words with the objects by himself/herself. Let it be his/her special game.

If it gets frustrating, take a “brain break” to laugh and have fun. Then, back up to easier words and more physical movement - or come back to it another time.

Ways to improve reading and spelling every day: Games to improve Phonological Awareness

(PA is the ability to play with sounds in your head.)

Free activities to improve phonemic awareness can be found at (The Phonological Awareness Chipper Chat kit from Super Duper Publications is $55.96 and provides many fun games to improve phonological awareness. Sorry this resource is not free!)

Strong phonological awareness is necessary for good reading and spelling skills. PA games are great to do here and there when you have time like while in the car — it needs to be a short little game that’s fun, while moving like throwing a koosh ball or doing a hand movement like clapping to the beat or doing a cheer…Or set it to a dance or song! One of the best things you can do is to make rhyming with rhymes, read and sing rhymes. Your child may not “get it” at first, but keep it fun and intersperse play, songs, or reading of rhymes whenever you can and you’re likely to see a big improvement in reading and spelling.

One basic pattern is: Say sidewalk. Now say sidewalk without “side." Say sidewalk without "walk”. Do the same with other words such as sunrise, doorbell, birdhouse, mousetrap, hotdog, sunset, basketball, football, poptop, hopscotch, rainbow, raincoat, bookbag, backpack, timepiece, ragtag, doorknob…

Take away or change smaller pieces of words, such as in: Say “mack” Now say mack without “m” … change the “a” in “bat” to “i” … change the “f” in “fish” to “w”…

Here are some examples (just do a little at a time to keep it fun - this could be a game for the whole family!

  • The basic pattern is: “The word is ______. I say __, you say (what’s left)”

  • The word is raccoon. I say r, you say __ (accoon).

  • The word is mop .. I say m, you say (op). Do also with lop, pop, cop, hop, mop...

  • I say bag, I say b, you say (ag). Do also with rag, lag, mag, sag, rag, gag, shag, jag, wag...

  • The word is mom, I say m, you say (om). Do also with tom, lom, pom, fom, hom, gom...

  • The word is home, I say h, you say … (ome). Do also with Rome, comb, dome…

  • The word is phone. I say f, you say … (“own”)

  • The word is walk, I say w, you say (alk). Do also with talk, chalk, balk…

  • The word is back, I say b, you say …(ack). Do also with sack, mack, pack, whack, knack, jack, tack, rack...

  • The word is daddy, I say d, you say (addy). Do also with paddy, maddy, caddie, baddie, laddie...

  • The word is Kate, I say K, you say (ate), Do with late, gate, bait, wait, mate, nate, rate...

  • The word is Lauren, I say L, you say (auren)

  • The word is munch, I say m, you say …(unch). Do also with bunch, punch, hunch, lunch

  • The word is jump, I say j, you say…(ump). Do also with bump, lump, tump, dump, fump, vump,

  • The word is pie, I say p, you say … (ie) Do with sigh, lie, nigh, buy, why, my

  • The word is fight, I say f, you say …(ight). Do with light, might, night, kite, bite, height...

  • The word is table, I say t, you say … (able). Do with mable, label, cable…

  • The word is shop, I say sh, you say (op).

  • The word is ship, I say sh, you say (ip).

  • The word is shoot, I say sh,you say… (oot).

  • The word is where, I say wh, you say…(air).

  • The word is which, I say w, you say…(itch). Do also with ditch, mitch, pitch...

  • The word is church, I say ch, you say (urch). Do also with lurch, birch, murch, gurch…

  • The word is thank, I say th, you say,,,(ank), Do also with rank, shank, bank…

If any of these are hard or frustrating, just switch to easier ones and s/he’ll just keep getting better and better, as long as they’re fun and in little short mini-games.

Hettie Johnson, MA, CCC-SLP

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