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4 Useful Strategies To Improve Phoneme Manipulation

In the last few weeks we’ve been looking at some of the essential skills children need in order to decode the English language. Specifically I’ve shared activities and ideas for teaching blending and segmenting.

Today I’m going to share with you some of the ways I help students improve the essential skill of phoneme manipulation.

Do you know how to teach children the skill of phoneme manipulation? 4 useful strategies you can use to teach your students how to manipulate sounds.
Do you know how to teach children the skill of phoneme manipulation? 4 useful strategies you can use to teach your students how to manipulate sounds.

What is phoneme manipulation?

Phoneme manipulation is being able to insert and delete sounds in words. This skill is important as it allows readers to test alternatives for spellings that represent more than one sound (Sounds~Write, 2013).

Here are 4 useful strategies you can use to teach your students how to manipulate sounds in words.

1. Sound deletion

Being able to delete or add sounds in words is an important skill to develop as it helps students test alternatives for reading and spelling. Many students who have problems with hearing sounds in words will struggle to be able to do this at first.

In this activity students will practice saying words by deleting some of the sounds. For young children or those who haven’t had much practice with this, start with deleting the initial sound in words.

For instance, get students to say a word without the first sound. Again, you can start with your simple CVC words. For example, say ‘mat’ without the ‘m’. Say ‘Tom’ without the ‘t’.

If you have older students use words that have 4 or 5 sounds (CVCC, CCVCC, CVCCC, CCCVC etc). Say ‘slump’ without the ‘s’. You can also move on to removing sounds either in the middle of the word or at the end of the word. For example, say ‘clump’ without the ‘l’ or say ‘print’ without the ‘t’.

2. Sound substitution

The above activity can be extended further by getting students to change sounds in words to make new words. To include writing practice you can get your students to write the word down, I like to use small whiteboards (dry erase boards) for this. If you have one for each student then it’s a simple way to get students to write the new word and hold the board up to show you. You can then quickly scan to see if any students may have difficulty.

Ask students to change ‘mat’ into ‘sat’ or ‘spend’ into ‘spent’. Change ‘spent’ into ‘pent’. Before they go ahead and make the new word you may like to discuss which sound they are changing. Is it the first, second or third sound? When doing this activity it’s important to only change one sound at a time. The words don’t always have to be real words either. This is really fun to do with made up words. For example, change ‘block’ into ‘blon.’ This helps students really listen to the sounds in the words.

Finally you can get your students to track which sound has been changed by underlining it.

For example: mat – sat – sit – sip

3. Silly sound games

This is a fun activity to do with younger children. First pick a category to focus on, such as animals, names or colors.

Pick one thing from the category, such as the color black. Then ask your students to change the first sound in black to make new silly words.

It could go something like: black, glack, slack, clack, plack….

This is a simple activity that can be done while your students are sitting in a circle on the mat.

4. Change the sound

This is a good activity to do if you have a spare 5 minutes, or it is a great way to start/end a literacy session.

Depending on the age of your students it will determine how many sounds you go for in the word. My example will be with 4 sounds – CCVC words.

Start by writing on the board a word, such as tram. Then circle or underline one of the sounds in that word.

Select a student to change that sound to a new one to make a new word, then write that word down.

Again in the new word circle/underline one of the sounds that is to be changed.

Continue with circling a sound that needs changing in the word so all of your students get a turn. If a student cannot think of a real word it is okay to use a nonsense word to keep it going. As long as the spelling combination is plausible and something we would see in English.

Below is an example. First we started with tram and I underlined the /t/, which is the sound that needed changing. So the new word is cram, underline the /r/ to change and make the new word, which is clam.

Do you know how to teach children the skill of phoneme manipulation? 4 useful strategies you can use to teach your students how to manipulate sounds.
Do you know how to teach children the skill of phoneme manipulation? 4 useful strategies you can use to teach your students how to manipulate sounds.

The Complete Phonics Kit

I’ve also put together a kit that focuses on helping children develop the fundamental skills needed to help them become fluent readers and accurate spellers.

The Complete Phonics Kit is essential for all teachers responsible for the language development of children. It includes easy to prepare games, ready to go worksheets, colorful posters and writing frameworks.

Do you know how to teach children the skill of phoneme manipulation? 4 useful strategies you can use to teach your students how to manipulate sounds.

This phonics kit is for you if you are a:

  • Classroom teacher;
  • Learning specialist;
  • Substitute / relief teacher;
  • Home schooler;
  • Intervention specialist; or
  • Parent.

Some of the features of the phonics kit include:

  • Suitable for students aged from 5 to 12 years;
  • Easy to follow information and instructions;
  • Helps to develop your students’ blending and segmenting skills;
  • A range of individual, small group and whole class activities; and
  • Many worksheets and games to assist in consolidating the learning of the phonics sounds.

Find out more about The Complete Phonics Kit here.

Summing up

Well I hope over the last few weeks I’ve given you lots of ideas for finding and picking good quality decodable books, as well as some strategies and activities you can use to help your students develop the skills needed in order to read and spell.

If you’ve missed any of the posts you can find them below:

Benefits Of Reading: 17 Tremendous Reasons To Read Daily
How To Select Reading Books Your Students Will Love
A New Phonics Program: Is It Right For You?
6 Helpful Activities To Teach The Skill Of Blending
5 Practical Ways To Help Students Improve Their Spelling

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