Though we may not be exactly sure what school will look like for our children this year, one thing is certain. For many young children, the upcoming school year is extra special because they will be starting kindergarten. And whether that happens in a “big kid” classroom with lots of friends, or with our family at the kitchen table, there are several skills every Pre-K child needs in order to be fully prepared to conquer Kindergarten – and beyond!

So, if you’re focusing on kindergarten readiness, here are a few fun activities to try this summer:

Phonological Awareness Activities: “I’m a sound detective!”

Before we jump right into the activities, let’s chat through phonological awareness and why it matters.The understanding of how words sound and the ability to recognize and work with those sounds is called phonological awareness. It’s also one of the most important foundations for learning to read. Most people may think learning to read begins with sounding out letters, but that’s not the case. Learning to read begins way before a child even sees words on a page – and phonological awareness is key!

By the time a child starts Kindergarten, they should be able to complete these phonological awareness skills:

  • Generate rhyming words
  • Listen and differentiate between sounds that are the same and sounds that are different
  • Blend and segment phonemes in CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) and one syllable words

Now to the fun part… the activities that help teach these skills! All of these activities – as well as many others – can be found in our free downloadable resource, “Tried and True Recipes for Teaching Phonological Awareness.” Here are some of our favorites:

1. Sergeant Smarty

Sergeant Smarty is here and he needs some sound sleuths to help him! Get your kiddos into their detective gear because it’s time to investigate some onset-rime clues.

The onset is the initial phonological unit of any word (e.g. c in cat) and the term “rime” refers to the string of letters that follow, usually a vowel and final consonants (e.g. at in cat). This blending onset-rime activity is also great for large groups, as you can see when Mary, a Pre-K teacher, tries it out with her students:


2. Onset-Rime Bingo

B-I-N-G-O and we’re learning onset-rhyming with this game-o! Make your own onset-rime BINGO cards by rearranging the Onset-Rime picture card in a variety of ways. Explain that the children will have to be great sound sleuths and listen carefully to both the onset and then the rest of the word to blend the sounds and find the picture on the card that matches the word.

Onset-Rime Bingo Picture Cards


3. Hungry Monster – Blending Syllables

This monster is HUNGRY, but it isn’t just hungry for any food – he’s got a craving for multi-syllable foods. To get started, you can create your own hungry monster the kids will feed during this activity. Make him happy, make him scary, make him colorful – use your creativity! 

You can print out multiple syllable food picture cards here, or try using plastic food or cutting pictures from magazines or boxes. Next, the monster lets the children know what he wants, “chick….. en. chick…… en.” The kids have to blend the syllables together to select the right food. Nom nom nom!

Hungry Monster Blending Syllables Activity


4. Rhyming Pairs

Glue, Shoe! Hat, Cat! Shell, Bell! Give children sets of rhyming objects they can match up to  put in pairs in their muffin tins. It’s as easy as that!

Rhyming Pairs Activity


5. Song: This Old Man

Surely you know this one, “This old man, he played one, he played knick knack on my thumb!” I bet you were singing this in your head when you read it. It’s pretty catchy, right? This nursery rhyme can easily be adapted to help children understand the concept of deleting phonemes. Let’s take the same tune and tweak the words just a bit:

Students are bound to love these phonological awareness activities and they’ll get one step closer to being kindergarten-ready! Phonological awareness is just one key piece of the puzzle, so be sure to check out our posts on Alphabet Knowledge and Emergent Writing.

Recommended Kindergarten Readiness Skills Resources

Phonological Awareness