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My Favorite Items for Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness plays a HUGE role in reading success.  Children that struggle with phonemic awareness have more difficulty with reading and writing.  In the younger grades, we have to make it a point to provide plenty of phonemic awareness instruction to our students.  I love using a variety of fun manipulatives while working on these skills.

The best manipulatives for phonemic awareness instruction.

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Here are a couple of my favorite manipulatives and how I use them with my Phonemic Awareness activities.


Slinky spring toys are great for giving students a visual to “stretching” through their words.  My students start by holding their Slinky together.  I give them a word and they stretch it out as they say each sound.  Then, they repeat the word and push the Slinky back together.


These are easy to find EVERYWHERE right now.  Since my students are obsessed with these, I might as well use them for instruction.  Say a word and have the students push down a bubble for each sound that they hear.  You can also use these for counting syllables or words in sentences.

Magnetic Wands and Magnetic Chips

These are always one of my first go-to items when working on phonemic awareness skills.  I give each student a magnetic wand and 3-5 magnetic chips.  I say a word and the students pick up a chip as they say each sound in the word.

Unifix Cubes

Unifix cubes are a great tool to demonstrate building words with sounds.  Just like with the other items, cubes are a great manipulative for phonemic awareness.  Students can add a cube for each sound they hear in a word.  You could also use different colors for beginning, middle, and ending sounds.



Have students make 3-4 small balls of Play-Doh.  Say a word and have students smash a ball as they say each sound in the word.  They LOVE this!


Mini-erasers, or any other type of fun objects, make a great manipulative for students to use during phonemic awareness.  I use these with Sound Boxes (free download below).  Say a word and the students move an eraser into a box for each sound they hear in the word.  I love that you can keep this fresh by using seasonal erasers.

Download Sound Boxes and a Word List for FREE by clicking on the picture below.

FREE Download of Sound Boxes and a Word List to use during phonemic awareness instruction.

Need more Phonemic Awareness activities?  Check out Phonemic Awareness at Your Fingertips.

Phonemic awareness sets the foundation for efficient readers and writers. This packet includes everything you need to ensure that your students have strong phonemic awareness skills.

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One Comment

  1. Hi Jodi! Thank you for sharing how you use these manipulatives in your first-grade classroom. I have been looking for ideas that I can use when I meet with small groups. I know my first graders are going to love using pop-its to work on phonemic awareness. Great post!

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