Sign Language And Phonics-Tip #4

I can not tout the benefits enough of using sign language and phonics, but I also believe it works wonders to teach phonemic awareness.  Remember phonemic awareness is a skill pre-readers need to master in order to begin reading.  It is the realization (and understanding) that spoken words are made up of sets of sounds. 

Example: the word cat is made up of the SOUNDS /c/, /a/, /t/.  This is NOT referring to the letters and their individual sounds, but the sounds heard within a given spoken word.

Now with that clarified, here are some helpful hints to using signs to teach phonemic awareness:
  • As you are teaching segmenting, it works well to teach each sound with a handsign.  For this I would use one sign for each sound.  So for example, for the word cat you would say /c/, /a/, /t/, and use each ASL handsign for each letter.  It is important to use one sign for every sound to help your child better understand that each sound is unique and individual.
  • When you are teaching blending, I suggest using the same handsigns (as you did for segmenting) but now stretch them out from left to right as you blend the sounds. For example, say the word cat slowly with the letter sounds connecting.  As you speak, do the hand signs from left to right changing them as the sound changes.  This will help your child begin to understand that sounds can be connected together to make a word, and that words go from left to right (later helping with reading).
Do you have questions about how to implement this? Ask away-I will answer!