Using Manipulatives to Teach Phonological Awareness Skills

When teaching phonological awareness skills, I like to use a multi-sensory approach. I'll use manipulatives so the student can visualize and feel as they learn.  Visually, I also like to use different colors so that each color represents a part of the word.  This is especially helpful when manipulating phonemes when teaching phonemic awareness. It's also great fine motor practice as well!

Scaffolding First, I'll demonstrate how to do the task. Whether I'm pointing to each object or moving them around. Next, I'll use hand-over-hand to do the task with the student. Lastly, I'll let the student complete the task after I give verbal instructions, giving gestural cues as needed.

Types of Manipulatives:

  • Mini Erasers- Mini erasers are always a hit with students. I like to incorporate seasonal erasers as an added element of fun.
  • Tokens- A magnetic wand and tokens are by far my favorite therapy tool. I have yet to meet a student that hasn't loved it. The tokens also come in a variety of colors, which as a mentioned before, aids as a bonus visual cue.
  • Nesting cups/cups- Cups are great for kids who don't have the fine motor skills for the smaller objects. You can also use a variety of colors.
  • Dry erase- Use dry erase markers on a dry erase board, directly on the table, or on objects (I found the blocks pictured below at Target or you can grab them on Amazon). This option is the ultimate no-prep option. You can write letters or draw shapes to represent sounds. Then wipe off or add shapes to represent manipulation, use your finger on a drawn arrow to represent blending, etc.
  • Sticky Notes- Another great low prep idea. You can use multi-colored sticky notes as blank visuals or you can write on them. 

phonological awareness materials

I TEACH phonological awareness skills, then I can use quick activities to monitor progress or get in a lot of trials for practice. I like using these drill cards HERE because they are leveled to match the students' needs and are perfect for quick, grab-n-go practice. What other ways do you like teaching and practicing phonological awareness skills?

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