Mastering Phonological Awareness for First Grade Common Core

Teaching phonological awareness for First Grade Common Core.

Last week, I blogged about Mastering Print Concepts, which is the first strand of standards in the RF domain for first grade ELA. The second strand of standards is mastering Phonological Awareness. Just like with Print Concepts, this is intended to be understood in first grade, since second grade doesn’t have these standards in their ELA at all. 2nd grade picks up with Phonics and Word Recognition, so any phonological awareness is expected to be mastered by first grade.

So phonological awareness in first grade refers to the basic knowledge of sounds in words. They are found in the Reading: Foundational Skills domain. Here are the specific standards here!

Phonological awareness for first graders

The Standards for Mastering Phonological Awareness

(Source: RF1.2)

According to this domain within common core for first grade, the main topics to teach are…


Start with a pre-assessment.

Phonological awareness pack

Scripted Pre- and Post-Assessment

(Source: RF1.2 Pack)

At the beginning of your unit, start with a pre-assessment. The picture shown above shows a scripted pre- and post-assessment that’s included in a phonological awareness pack on TPT. These assessments will test your students on the basic skills that common core outlines in this domain. They are set up so that when a teacher reads the script, you are truly assessing the student’s ability to do that task, instead of asking them to read the directions and possibly misinterpret what is being asked of them.

Make it tactile for the students throughout the unit

Syllable activity

Mastering Phonological Awareness with a Syllable Activity

 (Source: This Reading Mama)

As always, This Reading Mama gives an incredible idea for teaching students to read. This syllable activity is a great hands-on learning opportunity for teaching syllables. Each time the students hear a syllable, they will build a Lego onto their card. This can also work with one-syllable words when students are trying to segment the phonemes, as well.

Beginning Sound Substitution

(Source: Camp Slop) The bloggers over at Camp Slop had a great hands-on idea for beginning sound substitution. This helps with learning onset and rhyme. The ability to be able to isolate the beginning sound and replace the ending part of the word is a skill that many kindergarten and first grade students struggle with. The egg activity that this blogger created is great practice for decoding and blending, as well as fluency.

Hands-on idea for beginning sound substitution

Light Tapping Activity

(Source: Pediastaff)
I love this light tapping activity that Pediastaff blogged about. It can work for syllables or phonemes. If you’re going to use these tap lights for syllables, have the students tap on a light for each syllable they hear. If you’re going to use this activity for phonemes, then you’ll do the same thing, but they’ll tap the light for each sound they hear.

Always keep posters or anchor charts up during the unit.

Phonological awareness anchor chart

Anchor Charts

(Source: RF1.2 Pack)These mini anchor charts are from mini lessons that I have in my RF1.2 pack. They are a teaching point for the introduction or review of a standard or topic. I do suggest keeping them in plain sight and on display throughout the unit or the year so that students can always refer back to them. Also, keeping them on hand during small group is great for students struggling with phonological awareness. Specifically, because you can constantly refer back to these when they’re working on decoding and segmenting.

Provide multiple ways to practice.

Phonological awareness pack

Mastering Phonological Awareness Mini-Lessons

(Source: RF1.2 Pack)In the picture shown above, there are mini-lessons with hands-on partners and independent activities. Also, there are hands-on centers shown. The number of times a student spends with hands-on activities for repetition will only solidify these skills throughout your mastering phonological awareness unit.

Phonological awareness mini-lessons


(Source: RF1.2 Pack)Another option is printables (or worksheets). These can be used in many different ways. Some teachers may include them during morning work, review time, an assessment, homework, as part of their lesson or activity, or early finisher work. There are many different ways to incorporate printables into your instruction.

RF1.2 pack worksheets

Interactive Notebooks

(Source: RF1.2 Pack)
Another favorite activity of mine and many of the students I’ve taught is interactive notebooks. There are a few activities for each of the subjects from the domain included in my RF1.2 pack. I also like using these as an input on the left side of the notebook, then allowing them to create something independently on the right side. For example, a list, drawings, or another assignment that correlates to that specific standard.

Mastering Phonological Awareness Resources

Looking for the pack shown in some of these pictures?
Check out my RF1.2 set, which is also included in a bundle, too.

1st grade foundational skills phonological awareness
1st grade RF Foundational Skill Bundle

For information on teaching text features, check out this post.

Phonological Awareness- ELA Activities for first grade students working with syllables, vowels, phonemes, decoding, and isolating sounds. Common Core aligned hands-on work for Foundational skills.

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