Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thinking Thursday: Emergent Literacy #5

Emergent Literacy #1: Print Motivation
Emergent Literacy #2: Print Awareness
Emergent Literacy #3: Letter Knowledge
Emergent Literacy #4: Vocabulary
Emergent Literacy #5: Phonological Awareness
Emergent Literacy #6: Narrative Skills

Here is where my linguistics persona jumps out of hiding and shouts a big hurray! Today we're looking at how children figure out how sounds make up words and how adding different sounds changes the meaning of words. In linguistics-speak children are said to parse the language into smaller meaningful parts. I am fond of the word parse and rarely get to use it so I just had to throw it in!

Pre-Reading Skill #5
Phonological Awareness

It sounds rather intimidating, but phonological awareness simply means that little ones are able to hear and play with the smaller parts that make up words. Children begin by babbling or repeating the same syllable over and over again. Once they master several consonant-vowel repetitions, they begin mixing and matching the syllables together. Already little ones are showing phonological awareness.

We can encourage that awareness by capitalizing on things babies and toddlers love: rhymes and music. Nursery rhymes are perfect for helping little ones get a sense for the feel and rhythm of the language. They also begin to recognize rhyming schemes that show them how sounds are used in the language. Plus, they love our high, sugary-sweet voices that we use when reciting nursery rhymes. Such experiences add to print motivation for little ones in a big way!

Many nursery rhymes are set to melodies that are easy and fun to sing with little ones. Setting words to music is another way to slow down the language and help little ones hear the individual sounds that make up words. Try clapping along while you sing to emphasize syllables so little ones can hear the smaller sounds of words.

When we first started reading books to Sammi she would only let us read nursery rhyme books. She loved the rhythm, the music and the rhymes. It was like she just couldn't get enough of it. Now, she can recite almost any nursery rhyme and can "read" her nursery rhyme books because she knows which one goes with which picture. She's even started adapting lyrics of songs to her present experiences. She makes up a different tooth-brushing song almost every night! I created a list of board books for babies that includes lots of nursery rhyme books.

Next week we finish up the emergent literacy skills by talking about narrative skills. The following week, we have a literacy expert lined up to recap the skills and give us more ideas about preparing our little ones for reading.

In what ways do your little ones show phonological awareness?


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