Have you heard that phonemic awareness is a skill that you can teach with the lights off? While this is true (phonemic awareness is about manipulating sounds orally) for many multilingual learners this means that many of these activities can seem like they are full of nonsense words. If you add in pictures then students are both practicing their phonemic awareness skills AND building their vocabulary. Here are some ideas on how to use pictures to teach phonemic awareness skills.
Play a Guessing Game
Choose an object that you can see, or a picture and give hints about the word.
Segment the word /t/ /r/ /ē/ and have students guess what it is.
Point to a Picture
Give hints to create a word chain. Point to pictures for each word.
cut- change the /u/ to /ū/, change the /c/ to /m/
Show Pictures Before or After
Either before or after a lesson, use pictures to teach phonemic awareness skills. First show students pictures of some or all of the words you will be using. This way the main focus can be on hearing the sounds but students that need the extra support can still learn the vocabulary words.
As a part of word study, have students sort pictures based on sound. For example long and sort vowels or beginning sounds. Not only does this help MLs learn new vocabulary, it helps all students focus on the sounds inside the word. When students are only sorting written words they sometimes learn that they can quickly look for specific letters without actually reading the word.
Twitter Discussion about using Pictures When Teaching Phonemic Awareness
Read a discussion between teachers of multilingual learners about if phonemic awareness practice should include pictures. (Hint….the consensus is YES!)
Should phonemic awareness practice include pictures/visuals? (By visuals I mean images connected to words being manipulated, not print/letters)
What are your thoughts and why?
— Dr. Katie Toppel (she/her) (@KatieToppel) February 2, 2021
Read more about teaching phonemic awareness to ELLs.
FCRR Student Center Activities has free phonemic awareness activities that include pictures. Click on a grade level and then open the activity.