Phonemic Awareness Test

Phonemic Awareness TestPhonemic Awareness Test

A Phonemic Awareness test will give you crucial information concerning a set of skills that are mandatory when learning to read.  Phonemic awareness skills are a very effective early predictor for future reading difficulties. In other words, you can tell who is going to have trouble learning to read by testing the person’s phonemic awareness abilities.

What is Phonemic Awareness

phonemic awareness test

Phonemic Awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate the sounds that make up words. This is an auditory skill, not a visual skill. So an individual does not have to know the names and sounds of the alphabet letters to be successful in this skill. The person just has to be able to hear the individual sounds in a word and be able to separate those sounds and then blend the sounds back into a word.

For example, the word “cat” has three sounds, /c/, /a/, and/t/. An individual with good Phonemic Awareness skill would be able to tell you  all three sounds in the word cat. They should also be able to tell you what the word is when you give them the sounds in the word. So if you said, “/c/, /a/, /t/” the person should be able to say that the word is cat.

This might sound like an easy skill but for someone with a learning difference, this can be very difficult to learn. Individuals with dyslexia (and other learning differences) struggle with hearing the difference in many of the alphabet sounds. A person with this type of brain will usually have difficulties in telling you the individual sounds in words. The good news is that this skill can be taught. The brain will build new and different pathways as the skill is taught, practiced and reinforced. For more information about Phonemic Awareness see this section.




phonemic awareness testPhonemic Awareness  Test


1)  Rhyme   

Directions: “Words that rhyme sound the same at the end. For example: cat, sat, rat rhyme because they sound the same at the end.” Practice a few before giving the test.

TEST:   “Tell me a word that rhymes with __________.”

  1. sit
  2. cake
  3. jump
  4. me
  5. hot


2)   Phoneme (Sound) Blending

     Directions:   “We say words by putting sounds together. I’m going to say a word very slowly and I want you to say the word fast.” For example:   /m/   /o/   /p/ makes the word “mop”. Practice a few before giving the test.

Test:   / /   /  /   /  /  makes __________?”

  1. /b/   /a/   /k/            (back)
  2. /l/   /o/   /g/             (log)
  3. /s/   /i/   /p/              (sip)
  4. /m/  /u/   /d/            (mud)
  5. /n/   /e/   /s/   /t/      (nest)


3)   Phoneme (Sound) Segmentation

Directions: “I will say a word and I want you to say it slowly and tell me all the sounds you hear in the word. For example, if I say ‘cat’, you will say, /c/  /a/  /t/. You will tell me the sounds you  hear first, in the middle, and at the end.” Practice a few before giving the test.

TEST:   Tell me the sounds you hear in _______________.

  1. knock          /n/   /o/   /k/
  2. rug              /r/   /u/   /g/
  3. mail            /m/   /a/   /l/
  4. bike           /b/   /i/   /k/
  5. cold          /k/   /o/   /l/   /d/



1998 by Judy Lynch. This test was designed as a fast, informal assessment of a child’s ability to rhyme, blend sounds and segment sounds. It is designed for students with special needs as well as Kdg – 2nd grade.

How to Help a Struggling Reader

How to Help a Struggling Reader

how to help a struggling reader

how to help a struggling readerHow to help a struggling reader is a puzzle with many pieces. Before the learning difference is addressed, a struggling reader must be made aware that he is smart and capable of accomplishing anything he really wants to accomplish. Most struggling readers have taken a hit to their self esteem.

Another piece of the puzzle needed in how to help a struggling reader is to motivate him or her to reach success. How do we motivate a struggling reader to work extra hard at something that is extremely difficult for him? The best way is with positive reinforcement techniques. We reward him, not punish him. We focus on positive behavior, not negative behavior. We give the child something that is desired, not take something away .

Let us pretend that you have a job with a boss who gives you a very difficult assignment. You are how to help a struggling readerworking as hard as you can to complete this assignment but it is very difficult for you and you have to put in a lot of overtime. Even though you are working your hardest, your boss calls you into his office and berates you, and ridicules you, and calls you lazy because you still have not finished this simple assignment. You know that you are working your hardest and putting in long hours. How do you feel?

In this situation, you probably feel like quitting. You definitely do not feel like working extremely hard for a person who treats you this way. You might even think that since he does not appreciate the amount of hard work and effort you have put forth so far, why bother working this hard. You are not receiving any recognition for your effort, not to mind overtime pay, so why bother. You might decide to either discontinue putting forth all that effort or even quit the job completely.

how to help a struggling reader

I believe our struggling reader often times feel this way. He is working so hard to learn how to read, and it is extremely difficult for him. No one is acknowledging or recognizing this fact and it is hurtful. And to make matters worse, his friends may all learn effortlessly, while he struggles with the basics, regardless of how much effort he puts forth. On top of all this, he might even be called stupid or lazy by someone he respects, when actually the exact opposite is true.

Now, what if that same boss called you in and said how grateful he was for your hard work. How he noticed all the overtime youhow to help a struggling reader were putting in, and he really appreciated your effort. What if he said that he knew you were the only one who could complete this project and that is why he chose you out of the whole staff? What if he also even gave you a bonus or a raise? How would you feel then?

You would probably redouble your efforts to complete the project no matter what effort it took on your part. Your boss knew you could do it, so you would do it. Your boss appreciated your efforts and rewarded you with praise and a bonus or raise, which in turn motivated you to do your best.

how to help a struggling readerThis is exactly what we need to do for our children who have trouble learning to read. We need to praise them for all their hard work and encourage them to continue working hard. We need to acknowledge the effort they are putting forth and reward them for all the extra effort they need to put forth.

We need to continuously remind them of how smart they are because they are not going to feel smart at this time. This positive attitude will accomplish so much more, and in a shorter amount of time, than all the negative behaviors and attitudes. Plant the thought in your child that he is good and smart and capable, and these are the qualities that will develop and strengthen and grow. And rewarding him a little something does not hurt either.


Positive Reinforcement

how to help a struggling readerAnother way to help a struggling reader is with positive reinforcement techniques. How can you positively reinforce a struggling reader’s efforts in a way that will make him work extra hard for an extended period of time? This is easy. Reward him. What does your child love to do? Think of whatever he loves and plan a reward system around this object or activity.

For example, if a child loves horses then plan several rewards around a horse theme. Have a chart for every day of the week. Decide how much the child has to accomplish to earn a sticker for the chart. After he completes the work he puts the sticker on the chart. When he gets a certain amount of stickers, he earns the reward. You might decide that for every 5 stickers he can have a horseback riding how to help a struggling readerlesson.

Or maybe when he completes up to a certain point in a reading program, he can attend a summer camp with horses.
The reward should be extremely personal. The child needs to pick it out and really want it for this to be a motivating force. You both need to sit down together and work out what the reward is and how much it “costs”. Costs meaning how much effort your child will have to put forth to achieve this reward. Usually this entails some bargaining and compromising on both sides. Eventually, you should be able to reach an end result which works for both of you.

Remember, you want the end result to motivate your child. So it is in your best interest to be flexible during negotiations if this result will be seen by your child as something extremely worthwhile or desirable.

how to help a struggling readerA younger child is much easier to motivate. A treasure chest filled with small toys and candy always works well. Each prize in the treasure chest should have a sticker with a “price.” The child can receive a ticket for each reading session where he worked hard. Extra tickets can be given for extra work. The tickets can then be used to “buy” a prize from the treasure chest.

I used this both in a school setting and at home with my own children. It worked equally well in both situations. In the school, I held a “shopping” day once a week so it would not take up too much time. Whenever I purchased more prizes for the chest, I spread them out on a table so everyone could see what was available. They were given time to look it all over and decide what they wanted to “buy.” This gave every child motivation to work hard for me and cost me very little. Friday was our shopping day in the school setting. The children knew that I would give them time every Friday to purchase their prizes. If they wanted a certain item that cost more than they could “afford”, I would hold the item for them until they saved enough tickets. They always worked extra hard when there was a coveted item waiting for them.

I also used this at home for my daughters. I would fill the chest with items I knew they wanted. They would redeem their tickets whenever they had enough tickets to pay for it. I knew I had the right items in the chest when the child would ask me to do a reading lesson instead of me reminding her.

You know your child best. Choose a reward or prize that is best suited to him. If it is something like horseback riding lessons, how to help a struggling readercut up a picture of a horse, and post it in a prominent spot. Each time he completes whatever task you both previously agreed upon (maybe one lesson or one week of lessons), he can put one piece of the horse on the refrigerator. He earns the lessons when the whole horse is completed. You can do this with anything the child wants to earn. A visual helps to keep him motivated if it is a long term goal while tickets work well for short and long term goals.

This type of positive reinforcement makes the added work load more doable for a child, and as a consequence, more doable for you. The reward system makes working hard a little more fun. Just make sure you continue the verbal praise also. That is still the most crucial aspect of positive reinforcement.

how to help a struggling reader


Points to Remember When Helping a Struggling Reader

  • The struggling reader must know he is smart and capable of accomplishing great things.
  • Performance matches Expectations.
  • A learning difference is NOT a disability, and usually disguises great gifts.
  • A positive mental attitude in parent and child is crucial for success.
  • Rewards work.
learning how to read

Building Self-Esteem in Children – Especially a Struggling Reader

Building Self-Esteem in Children – Especially a Struggling Reader

“Change your thoughts and you change your destiny”


Positive Self-Esteem is Crucial to Success

Building self esteem in children is one of the most crucial components to address for the child to be successful in any area of his life, but especially in a reading program. The results in any reading program will increase if you have a willing participant who believes in himself and believes in his ability to learn.

The child has to believe completely that he can be successful or he will not be successful. The child has to be highly motivated to do his best or he will not do his best. Period.

Building self esteem in children who struggle to read can be easy or difficult to address. The level of difficulty depends on the age of the child and how long he has been struggling with learning to read. The self-esteem issue is easiest to address when you discover the learning difference early, for example in kindergarten or preschool. Usually a younger child is eager to learn and has a good opinion about his abilities. A child in this situation will usually also be easy to motivate and very willing to work hard in a reading program.

An older child, on the other hand, who has struggled with reading for a couple of years will very likely have an extremely poor opinion about his abilities regarding reading. He probably also has a strong aversion to anything involving reading. Kids might have made fun of him in school because of his reading skills. Teachers may have been lacking in either: recognizing the issue; knowledge of what to do about the issue; or possibly had poor dispositions in general. Just be aware that there may be a variety of negative experiences which your child has not shared with you but which are feeding into his poor attitude or low self-esteem.

This type of situation will be more difficult to rectify, but again it depends on the child’s personality and his unique situation. Whether your child is easy to motivate and has a high self-esteem or not is just a matter of degree, both scenarios can be successful.

First and most important, your child must KNOW he is smart and capable of doing anything he chooses to do. He must KNOW it, not think it. This is important. A child who knows he is smart will accomplish a whole lot more than a child who thinks he is a loser or incapable of doing anything. There have been many studies done to prove this idea to be true.

Performance Matches Expectations

An experiment carried out in a school setting backed this assumption. The school called a group of teachers into a conference with the principal before the school year began. The person doing the experiment told the teachers that they were chosen to participate in this study because their past performance proved that they were the highest performing teachers in the school district. They were told this quality was needed for the success of this experiment.

Next, they were told they were going to receive the highest performing children in the district. They were also told that the administration of the district expected their classrooms to outperform every other classroom in the district since the highest performing teachers were teaching the students with the highest IQs.

As expected, these classrooms performed better than any of the other classrooms in the districts. At the end of the year, the teachers were again called into a conference. They were told that they performed better than any of the classrooms that were not a part of this study. They were also told that they were really chosen for this experiment randomly. Their names were pulled out of a hat filled with the names of every teacher in the district. The children in their classrooms were also chosen randomly from every child in the district. The only reason their classrooms achieved this level of success was because the teachers and the students knew that they were the best. They expected that they would achieve the highest levels.

The teacher’s and student’s approach to all obstacles during the year was based on their belief that they were the highest performing teachers and students in the district. They believed this to be true so they acted in this manner. They knew this to be true because the leaders in their district told them it was true. Nothing else mattered, except the fact that they knew they were the best. Their performance matched their expectation.

Performance Matches Expectations in the Home

A second example of this paradigm is from Napolean Hill, the author of Think and Grow Rich. His son was born without ears. He had no known apparatus for hearing.

Hill was told that his son had a disability and should attend a special school for children with disabilities and also learn sign language to communicate. Napolean Hill refused to believe that his son had a disability.

He refused to allow his son, or anyone in his family for that matter, to believe that the boy had a disability. He said he strongly believed that for every challenge a person encountered in his life, there was an equal level of opportunity waiting to be exposed. He applied this belief to his sons’ situation.

Napolean Hill could have just listened to the “experts” and placed his son in special education. He could have lowered any expectations he had for his child compared to the expectations he had for his “normal” children. But he did not.

He fought the school district every year to have this child in a regular classroom. Every day he informed his son that not having ears held great blessings for him. He also prepared his son to expect great things from having this “advantage.” He did not say “disadvantage.”

His son did go on to live a very successful and fruitful life and his “disability” was in fact the key to his success. This was a direct result of the beliefs his father imstilled in him from his birth. His performance matched his expectation.


What a person believes to be true becomes his reality.

A child who believes he is unsuccessful will become unsuccessful. But, change that belief and you will change that result. “Change your thoughts and you change your destiny”. In the big scheme of things, a reading difference is not a major issue, unless it goes unaddressed. Then it becomes a major influencing issue in a person’s life.

One of the most important roles we have as parents is to support and encourage our children to reach their full potential, whatever level that may be. Parents need to continuously envelop their children with the understanding and belief that they are smart and capable and will accomplish great things

Hold the expectation yourself, and then transfer that expectation to your child. Continuously show your child that this is true by pointing out little things they do daily that prove this to be true. For example, you can point out to your child his amazing ability to tie shoelaces. You can inform him that he must be so smart because he tied his shoelaces earlier and better than anyone else. Or you can tell him that he is the best skater, or singer, or whatever skill that best applies to your child. The accomplishment does not have to be something big and important. You just make it big and important. Your child looks up to you and believes you. You can build him up in a thousand different ways every day.

building self esteem in childrenThese little things will make a big improvement in your child’s self-esteem and consequently in all areas of your child’s life. Just remember, his performance will match his expectation. You need to build up and reinforce that expectation.

I know that if we give the idea of the performance matching the expectation more attention, in every area of our lives, we will surpass all of our previous achievements. We need to definitely attach this idea to our children with learning differences. Come to think of it, why do we call it a “reading disability”? It really is only a “difference” from the average way of learning, but not necessarily a disability. It is only a disability when we believe it is a disability and call it one. Now, let us apply this idea to the child who is having trouble learning to read.

Transfer A Positive Mental Attitude to Your Child

You should have a discussion with your child and tell him outright that you know he is smart. You have always recognized how smart and capable he was in the past and is at this time. Point out everything he is good at, no matter how small the ability might seem to you. You want to make him feel good about himself and some accomplishments he has made so far in his life.

After acknowledging everything that he is good at, approach the reading difficulty. Explain to him that you can see that he is having trouble learning to read and that just means that he learns differently. Help him to understand that this is an asset. His brain is “wired” differently so he will learn differently.

This gift will also enable him to access different areas of his brain and reach different levels of knowledge that “average” people building self esteem in childrencannot reach. This is true. NASA hires a higher percentage of employees with dyslexia than without dyslexia. They look for this trait. They recognize this “disability” as a coveted asset. Your child must understand this and believe this to be true.
The positive mental attitude you bring to the table when dealing with the reading issue will make all the difference in the outcome. You want to transfer your positive mental attitude to your child. This means you need to cultivate one if you do not have one already.

Now that you discussed how smart your child is and how learning differently is an asset, you have prepared him mentally to approach the task of learning to read with a positive attitude.

Teaching your child to read at home is easy with the Reading Blocks program.

Reading Blocks On Sale Now! Click here and recieve FREE shipping!

Phonemic Awareness Test

Reading Games for Kids

Reading Games for Kids

Reading games for kids are the easiest way to  increase a child’s reading level.

Everyone knows that kids need to read to succeed. Some kids just learn to read with no problems, while Reading Blocks: A Step By Step Method to Teach Readingother kids struggle, struggle and struggle some more just to learn the alphabet. This is where a reading game comes in handy. You can get your struggling readers to play a reading game way easier than you can get them to practice sight word drills.  The more fun the game is, the more time they will be willing to spend playing the game. And, as a consequence, they will be learning and strengthening the reading skills necessary for future success.

Here’s to better and better reading skills!

Get a few reading games right now and raise your child’s reading level and have fun at the same time!



Chunks: The Incredible Word Building Game
Chunks: The Incredible Word Building Game

Chunks: The Incredible Word Building Game 

Great hands-on reading and spelling tool which is also great for developing fluency (greater reading speed). This game combines 70 yellow onsets (beginning of the word) with 70 green rimes (end of the word) to make hundreds of words to read in a game format. This is a very effective game for any age person that needs more practice with reading skills.





Boggle and Boggle Junior

Boggle is a great game to practice making and reading words in a fun game format. Super Big Boggle has a super sized grid including the new double letter cube and new blank cube. Includes 36 letter cubes and a 4 minute timer provide a fresh challenge with every game. The biggest boggle game ever. Contains 36 letter cubes, stylish cube grid and dome, 4 minute sand timer and instructions.

Boggle Junior is an easier game version for younger players and helps younger readers begin to recognize and learn the alphabet and sounds as well as put the sounds together to form words. This is a first game for preschoolers and grows with the child by combining different ways to play the game. The child can match letter cubes to picture or word cards in 2 multi-level games. This game is great for introducing letter and word recognition, matching, spelling and memory and is for 1-2 players.



Match It! Alphabet Memory
Match It! Alphabet Memory

Match It! Alphabet Memory Game

The Match It! Alphabet Memory Game is a fun game that will challenge problem solving, teach upper and lower case letter recognition, and develop memory skills as they try to find a pair of matching alphabet cards. I recommend that you begin playing the game using only 4 letters. You will have 8 cards all together (4 upper case letters and 4 lower case letters that match the upper case letters). Add a new letter each time a letter (upper case and lower case) is learned. When the child turns over the matching upper and lower case letter they should also tell you the sound they would  make for that letter. You can also combine two and three letters to begin practicing blending the sounds together to make simple words to read. For example, when the child can recognize the letters a, t, and m they can make the words: a, at, am mat and tam. As the child learns more sounds continue to make new words to read combining the new sounds with the already known sounds.


New Set: the Family Game of Visual Perception
New Set: the Family Game of Visual Perception

New Set: The Family Game of Visual Perception

New Set:The Family Game of Visual Perception, has won over 35 best game awards including MENSA Select. Race to find a SET of three cards where each feature is either all the same or all different on each card. SET can be played alone or with as many players as you can fit around the table. Most children who struggle with reading will benefit from a strategy to strengthen their visual perception skills. Strengthening a child’s visual perception will also strengthen their ability to recognize and memorize letters and sounds as well as strengthen numerous other learning skills. Set can be played in 20 minutes or less so it makes a fun and quick way to practice a very important learning skill.





Scrabble and Scrabble Junior

Scrabble is a great game to practice making and reading words in a fun format. This version of the game is great because the words won’t be slip which is especially important with someone just learning to read. There are also soft pads on its bottom that allow you to effortlessly slide the board across a table or rotate it for a better view. And, the compact size of the board, tiles and racks, make the game ideal for travel. You can play Scrabble in a car, train, plane or boat which makes practicing reading skills so much easier!

Scrabble Junior
Scrabble Junior

Scrabble Junior is an easier version of scrabble for younger players and newer readers. This version of Scrabble will give kids practice with letter and sound recognition. Kid-sized words and colorful pictures make it fun to match letter tiles to words on the grid. Players move their tokens up the score track as they score points. When all of the tiles have been placed on the board, the player with the most points wins. There is an easy version of the game on the front and a more advanced version on the back as the child’s skills advance.



Word Shark
Word Shark

Word Shark

This is a fun game for making and reading words in a game format. This makes reading practice fun instead of an argument! Each player chooses a Word Shark mat. Player 1 draws a consonant tile from the pile and tries to add it to a word ending on his or her mat to make a word. If the letter cannot be used to spell a word, it is returned to the pile. Then the next person takes a turn. For 1-10 players. Includes: 10 two sided mats, 58 vowel tiles and 92 consonant tiles. 




Sight Word Bingo
Sight Word Bingo

Sight Word Bingo

Sight words are words that are seen over and over again in all kinds of printed material. Kids need to be able to read sight words automatically to become fluent readers.  Since many sight words do not sound out using phonics they need to be memorized so they can be read quickly.  Sight word drills can be boring for kids so a game format is a great way to get kids to practice learning these words. Children love to play this hands-on, interactive game while they practice reading 46 sight words.  The child can move on the the next level once he/she can read these words fluently. Unique six-way format adapts to a variety of skill levels. Appropriate for small groups or the entire class and ideal for learners with disabilities or anyone learning English. Includes 36 playing cards, 264 playing chips, calling cards, caller’s mat, answer guide and storage box.



Sequence Letters
Sequence Letters

Sequence Letters

This is a great game to practice letter and sound recognition. The more the child practices, the easier it is for him to learn the names and sounds of the alphabet letters. This game makes it fun to practice letter names and sounds. Players sound out the letter on their card and match it to the beginning sound of the picture on the game board. Each card features a letter of the alphabet in upper and lower case format. Colored squares on the cards and game board help with faster recognition for younger readers. When you have 5 of your chips in a row, you’ve got a sequence.



Snap It Up!
Snap It Up!



Snap It Up!

This is a fun and easy to play card game that gives kids practice in making and reading words. Use this game after kids know the sounds of the alphabet letters. You can also pull out the cards that are more difficult to sound out such as “ear” and then include them back in after the child has had practice playing with the easier sounds. The child will also practice reading “rimes” which is the chunk of the word after the vowel. This is a great skill to practice for fluent reading. The more they practice this skill, the quicker they become fluent readers.  Players pick and pass cards as fast as they can to spell words. Each game includes 90 cards



Snatch It
Snatch It

Snatch It

This is a really fun game to practice making and reading words and can adapt to different reading skill levels. This game can be played every day for painless reading practice. It is faster moving than Scrabble because everyone play at once which may be better for the kids who get bored waiting for their turn. You can “steal” someone else’s word by adding another letter to their word to make a new word. When you see a word just shout it out and grab it. For 2 or more players.

I would love to hear how you used these games to raise your child’s reading levels. Let me know by leaving a comment below. Also, if you have any questions about your child’s reading skills you can ask it in the comment section below. 🙂