4 Useful Strategies to Improve Phoneme Manipulation

Phoneme manipulation is the ability to add and remove sounds in words. This is an essential skill because it lets readers assess alternative spellings that represent several sounds rather than just one. 

We’re going to look at a few simple – but useful – strategies to improve your students’ phoneme manipulation. They will help teach students a helpful skill that can aid in their comprehension and writing skills. Read on for more. 

Sound Removal

Adding or removing sounds in words is a necessary skill because, as we said in the intro, it allows students to test alternatives to words in their spelling and reading. Many students that struggle to hear sounds in words will also struggle with sound removal at first. 

In the sound removal activity, students will practice pronouncing words by removing a few of the sounds. For younger students who have not practiced this technique much, you should remove the initial sound in words. 

For example, have your students pronounce a word without its first sound. You can start with the basic CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) words – for instance, say ‘cat’ without the ‘c,’ or ‘van’ without the ‘v.’

If your students are older, you can use words with 4 or 5 sounds – CCVCC, CVCC, CVCCC, CCCVC, etc. For instance, say ‘plump’ without the ‘p.’ You can continue removing sounds at either the middle or the end of the word. 

Change the Sound

This is a great activity to do if you have 5 minutes to spare and can also be an excellent way to end or start a literacy session. Your students’ age will determine how many sounds you have in a word, but we’ll use words with four sounds for the sake of this example. 

Write a word on the board, like ‘tram.’ Then, underline or circle one of that word’s sounds, choose a student to change that sound to form a new word, and write the new word down. 

In the new word, highlight a sound to be changed, and repeat the process until all of your students have answered. If a student cannot think of a real word, a nonsense word will do just fine, so long as the spelling combination is a plausible one and something you’d see in English. 

Sound Substitution

You can build on the first activity by having your students change the sounds in a word to form a new word. Have them write a word of your choosing down, and change it to another word of your choosing. 

For example, have your students write the word ‘sat,’ and have them change it to ‘mat.’ You may also want to discuss with them which sound they are changing – is it the first, second, or third sound? It’s essential that only one sound is being changed at a time in this activity. 

Fun Sound Games

This is an excellent activity for younger students. To start, pick a category, like names, animals, or colors. 

Then, pick one thing from that category, like a tiger. Have your students change the word’s first sound to make silly new words, like ‘piger,’ ‘diger,’ and so on. 

Concluding Thoughts

Phoneme manipulation is an important skill to teach your students at a young age, so be sure to practice it regularly.

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