Classroom Activities to Develop
and the Alphabetic Principle
In this chapter we continue to describe instructional activities that help children develop print processing skills, including phonological awareness, the alphabetic principle, and sound–letter correspondences. We address the role of phonological awareness in children's literacy development and draw implications from research for instruction for 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds. Finally, we discuss helping children discover the alphabetic principle and extending their knowledge of sound–letter correspondences. This chapter, along with Chapters 5, 6, and 7, provides information about instruction included in a well-balanced literacy program focusing on all critical areas of literacy development.
Phonological awareness is highly complex and requires children to attend consciously to the sounds in words rather than to their meanings. It is one of the necessary ingredients, along with alphabet letter recognition, that children must grasp in order to discover the alphabetic principle. Phonemic awareness is at the highest level of phonological awareness and involves the ability to detect each phoneme in a spoken word, to blend phonemes into words, and to segment words into phonemes. While we know that children acquire some level of phonological awareness before learning to read and write in a conventional sense, the exact level that any one child must achieve before beginning to read is not known. Still, research is clear that children need to begin learning about phonemes and other sound units before reading instruction begins. We know further that a few children as young as 3 years old have begun to acquire the ability to detect rhyme and alliteration.