The Morning Message this morning asked the children to “write a word that starts with the same sound as Tyrannosaurus.” Observing each child as they approached this task provided me with a wonderful example of how well they have learned the association between letters symbols and the sound they make. All of the children, when asked, stated that the beginning sound in the word Tyrannosaurus was “T” (the letter, not the actual /t/ sound). Although they were all correct, it wasn’t exactly the answer I was aiming for. Thus, I realized that we’ve done a great job of working with the phonics portion of letter knowledge. [ The letter “T” is identified and represents a /t/ sound.] Now, I need to spend more time on the phonemic awareness portion of our language. [Our language is made of words that can be broken down into sounds that can be isolated and identified using our hearing.]
During our Morning Meeting we practiced isolating the beginning sounds in words. After only a few examples, the class understood exactly what I was asking them to do. At home and at school we can use the phrase “what is the beginning sound in ______?” We can expect our children to answer with an isolated sound. On the other hand, if we ask “what letter is at the beginning of ______?” we can expect them to answer with a letter symbol name.
It is very important for their reading and writing [phonics skills] that they gain experience isolating beginning sounds (and later ending, middle, and syllable sounds) using only their ears and their brains. When writing or reading an unknown word, a learner will attempt the parts they do know. This might be the beginning sounds that they represent in print, or using the first letter of a word along with many other clues to decipher a word. Yet, both of these begin with understanding that our language is made of sounds that can be manipulated.