Sample Reading Activities

Phonemic Awareness

The following activities and brief descriptions are sample activities to address the various reading components.

These activities may or may not work for your students. Consider whether or not they will be useful to you, how you might modify them for your students, and what other ideas they might suggest.

Phonemic Awareness Activities



Alphabet song

Students sing any one of the variations of alphabet songs. As students sing the song, they indicate, hold up, point to, etc. the letter. (Example, students can have a chart of all the letters, and as they sing the “standard” alphabet song, they point to the letter.)


The teacher asks students to perform some modification to the sounds of a word, such as changing the starting sound from one sound to another, and then saying the resulting word

Clapping sounds / syllables

Students clap every time they hear a specific sound or for each syllable.

Creating rhymes

Students find as many rhymes as possible for a particular word. This can be in the form of a contest to see who can identify the most words. Another way is to use rhyming poetry or songs and change the rhyming words to other rhyming words, filling in the end of a line with a rhyming word, or making up an entirely new line in the poem that fits the rhyming pattern.

Exaggerated recitation

Students read aloud a poem or story by over-expressing the words (e.g., making the entire piece seem super exciting or super eerie).

Explicit instruction

The teacher directly teaches the sounds or sound combinations within words and having students practice them.

Fill in missing words (based on a rhyme)

Similar to creating rhymes, students complete the line in a rhyming couplet or poem.

Finding rhymes

Small groups or individual students find rhyming words, through oral response, graphic organizer, or a list.


The teacher says, “I spy with my little eye something that has the sound…,” followed by the target sound. Students find objects with a name that contain a target sound, whether the first, last, or middle sounds. There can be more than one right answer.

Letter bingo

Using bingo-type cards with words on them, students mark those words that have a given sound or number of syllables. (This combines phonics and phonemic awareness.)

Marking written poetry

Students circle, or otherwise mark, words that have particular sounds or sounds that are similar to a word spoken by the teacher. (This combines phonics and phonemic awareness.)

Matching pictures to words

Students identify pictures of things with specific sounds in a word spoken by the teacher.

Matching words by sounds

Students list or state words that have a specific sound.

Metered poetry

In small groups or as a class, students memorize and recite short poems in a small group or class.

Pair blending

The teacher or a student says the first part of a word, and the other student says the second part. This can be expanded to multiple parts for multiple students.

Pair response to questions

A version of call and response, students ask their partners to modify the sounds within a word. This may produce nonsense words, which is acceptable.

Short-answer questions

The teacher asks students to identify words that have given sounds in a particular location within the word. Each word students identify is sounded out.


Students memorize and sing short rhyming songs.

Sound boards

Students place markers along a picture of a ladder or row of boxes, one marker per sound within a word. Students compare their answers and try to sound out the word with as many sounds as they have identified. Then they blend the individual words together.

Sound picture charts

Students look at pictures of items and sound out their names, with the items having the same sound in their names.

Sound removal

Students sound out a word, and then, at the teacher’s direction, remove one of the sounds to see what word results.

Sounding out words

Self-explanatory. Students say the word, then say each sound in the word.

Teacher-led oral practice

There are several ways to do this: the teacher says and then sounds out words containing the same sound for students to echo or as a call-and-response.

Word grouping

Students identify and list a set of words that all contain the target sound.

Word grouping by sound counts

Students identify and list words that have the same number of sounds.

Word swapping

Students change words in rhyming poetry or song to fit the rhyme or to add words that have a specific sound.