Headstart for Life

Starter Activities for the Budding Reader

…When a child has the chance to hear one good story after another, day after day, he is being taught to read. – James Hymes


Welcome back to Beyond Therapy, HeadStart for Life’s blog!

Today’s blog revisits the field of beginning reading and early childhood education. As we prepare our young ones to become lifelong learners, we have learnt previously the importance of a positive attitude towards language, literature and literacy. From being acquainted with books towards having a genuine love for reading either for learning or for pleasure, children’s reading development is also equally dependent on the foundation of other domains of literacy such as alphabet knowledge and phonological awareness.

letter sounds

With some level of alphabet knowledge, children are able to recognise, name and sound out all the uppercase and lowercase letters of the alphabet. However, in today’s post, we will focus more on the starter activities in teaching awareness to the sensitivity of the sound of language. These activities involve working with detecting rhymes, syllable detection, detecting the onset and the rime.

In teaching the sequence of phonological awareness instruction through a study of both theory and practical experiences, below are some of the learning experiences and teaching strategies that teachers or parents might find useful to implement at home or school.



Objective: to develop the sensitivity to sounds, particularly recognizing words that end the same way

Rhyming Posters/Chart – write a song on posters and sing to the tune of familiar nursery rhymes; place the one-syllable rhyming words/pictures in the appropriate place in the song; track the print as you print

"Do You Know?" to the tune of "London Bridge"

“Do You Know?” to the tune of “London Bridge”

Rhyming Picture Cards – show picture cards of objects/pictures and have children identify if they rhyme


“Yes” and “No” rhyming pictures


“I-Spy” Game – choose an object that children see in the classroom/room and think of a word that rhymes with it

Computer, Room, Desk, Toys, Game, Play, Child, Youth


Objective: To help read words more accurately, fluently as well as spell words correctly

Picture Sorting  – sort the pictures and group them according to the its number of syllables

Name Game –  children’s name written on the paper and asked to group according to the similar number of syllables

Counting – group pictures/words according to the number of syllables using blocks/claps

"How many syllables do you hear?"

“How many syllables do you hear?”


Objective: To learn about word families and encourage reading and spelling acquisition

Roll the Dice – roll the dice wherein one die is for the onset (e.g. c is the onset in the word cat) and another die for the rime (e.g. at is the rimes in the word cat) ;  ask the child to retrieve the picture when you put or blend these sounds together

Roll, Blend & Write It Onset Rimes 2

Photo credit: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-UZH2XmYT2Tc/VKauNLZk57I/AAAAAAAAH-Q/rG0DfZsKo0E/s1600/Roll%2C%2BBlend%2B%26%2BWrite%2BIt%2BOnset%2BRimes%2B2.jpg

Making words– children choose the correct onset and rime prompted by pictures using letter magnets,spinning wheels, paper cups, flashcards, etc.


Photo credit: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/b9/b5/7b/b9b57bbaf17834df87a8abbd8cef130b--word-family-activities-fun-activities.jpg

Photo credit: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/b9/b5/7b/b9b57bbaf17834df87a8abbd8cef130b–word-family-activities-fun-activities.jpg


Objective: To know how to manipulate the individual letter sounds in words

Guess the sound – show the picture of words that begin with the same sound; have them to say the words and then guess what sound they start with by retrieving the letter card

Travel game – pretend to go on a trip and have the child suggest objects to put in the suitcase that starts with the secret sound; if it does not, tell the child that the object cannot go


There are several more activities to develop phonemic awareness using the components of phonological awareness, such as asking students to identify, match, isolate, segment, or blend initial, medial and final sounds. In my next post, join us again as we will share more about how to support phonemic awareness development among budding readers.

Let’s remember…

The ultimate goal is to help young learners understand the relationships between letters of written language and the sounds of spoken language. However, a carefully planned phonemic instruction might also make children to deliberately tune off. The list above is intended to be illustrative, not exhaustive wherein children will respond differently along the development in early reading.

Therefore, it is important to examine what truly drives children to engage in literacy  activities with enthusiasm. Our team at HeadStart for Life would love to hear some of the variety of methods and approaches that is most effective to your child. Feel free to share your ideas below in our comment box!



Agustin, E. R. (Writer). (n.d.). Demo Teaching: Phonemic Awareness. Live performance in Quezon City, Philippines.

Scholastic (2016). Assessment and enrichment program: Process tools [Handouts].

Pado, F.E. (2014). Teaching preschoolers and early graders in the context of the K to 12 curriculum [Handouts], Retrieved from UP College of Education.


"All the information on this site is for educational purposes only and does not replace the assessment and intervention of a registered speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist or any other medical or education professional."

About Dianne

Dianne has 7 years of teaching experience in both special education and early childhood settings. She has always maintained with her the three P’s as an education practitioner – perseverance, patience, and passion. In her teaching practice, she likes to explore on read aloud stories, multi-sensory instructions and music and movement activities.

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