Literacy Tutorials

Developing Phonemic Awareness

Claire Selin M.S. CCC-SLP, Literacy Specialist

Identifying Initial Sounds in Words

Identifying final sounds

Word Sort - Long and Short Vowel Patterns

Phonemic Awareness

Identifying Initial Sounds

CV words - Phonemic Awareness


Two foundational and prerequisite skills for strong reading and writing are phonemic awareness and sound-to-letter correspondences. Together, these skills allow children to identify the individual sounds of a word and match them with a letter. The research shows that phonemic awareness skills are predictive of later reading abilities and are important to target early on. These skills include being able to identify the initial, medial, and final sounds of simple consonant-vowel-consonant words (e.g.,“cat”) early on and progress to blending/segmenting of entire words. For example, early readers can blend individual sounds such as /c/ /a/ and /t/ into the word “cat”; early writers can take the word “cat” and segment it into the individual sounds /c/ /a/ and /t/. These blending/segmenting skills are required for accurate mapping of a letter to each individual sound (i.e., sound-to-letter correspondences).
The Bjorem Speech Sound Cue Cards are an intuitive way to introduce these important phonemic awareness skills to young emergent readers/writers and children with dyslexia, where a hallmark deficit involves difficulties with phonemic awareness. During the preschool years, emergent readers may only know a few letters, such as those in their names. Automatic letter knowledge can also be difficult for children with dyslexia. The visual picture cues allow for targeting phonemic awareness early on by bypassing unknown letter names. Children quickly map each sound to its matching picture card creating a bridge between the sound-to-letter correspondences. 
Pairing the sound cue cards with the letters of the alphabet is highly encouraged so both phonemic awareness and sound-to-letter correspondences can be addressed simultaneously. For example, you can use the sound cue cards to identify each individual sound in a simple consonant-vowel-consonant word immediately followed by identifying the corresponding letter for each sound, as in this video [currently creating a video for this, keep checking back!]. Additionally, as the child progresses, the sound cue cards provide excellent support for mastery of the short versus long vowel system of the English orthographic (i.e., written) system! You can use the contrastive short and long “a” sound cue cards to reinforce long vowel spelling patterns such as the silent -e in “cape”.

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