Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables and sounds (phonemes)
a. Recognize and produce rhyming words.
b. Count, pronounce, blend, and segment syllables in spoken words.
c. Blend and segment onsets and rimes of single-syllable spoken words.
d. Isolate and pronounce the initial, medial vowel, and final sounds (phonemes) in three-phoneme (consonant-vowel-consonant, or CVC) words.* (This does not include CVCs ending with /l/, /r/, or /x/.)
e. Add or substitute individual sounds (phonemes) in simple, one-syllable words to make new words.


  • sounds
  • onset-rime
  • C-V-C
  • blend (blending)
  • phonemes
  • vowel

  • isolate
  • segment (segmenting)
  • syllable
  • consonant
  • substitution
  • initial sound

  • medial sound vowel
  • final sound
  • rhyming
  • produce
  • letter naming

  • Phonological awareness (recognizing the sounds of the language such as rhymes and parts of words such as syllables, onset and rime, and individual letters) is essential to mapping sounds to letters and, then, to reading print.
  • Failure to master phonological awareness may be the underlying cause of why older students and adults are non-readers
  • Difficulties with phonological awareness may be an early warning sign that the child has a reading-related learning disability.
  • Difficulties acquiring phonological awareness can often be remediated with appropriate, focused, and intensive intervention instruction.
  • Kindergarten students who demonstrate an understanding of spoken words, syllables and sounds (phonemes) can provide rhyming words (real or nonsense) when given a word – even a name of a classmate (e.g., Can you think of some words that rhyme with Mary?” = scary, hairy, Larry, Sherry, fairy, “or with pit?” = sit, hit, knit, fit, mit)
  • Kindergarten students recognize that words are made up of parts (syllables). Given a one, two or three syllable words, they can count/clap/tap the number of syllables in the word (e.g., chair (1); dessert (2); museum (3). They can, orally, put syllables together (blend) to make a word (e.g., ti – ger = tiger) and they can take syllables apart (segment) (e.g., dinosaur = di – no – saur).
  • Kindergarten students can delete syllables. For example, if given the word cowboy (orally) and told to take away “boy”, they know that the part left is “cow”.
  • When single syllable words are provided orally, kindergarten students can recognize the parts (the initial consonant or consonant blend (onset) and the rime (the vowel and all the other consonants that follow the vowel). They can blend and segment the onset and rime. For example, given the word “stop”, students can indicate that /st/ is the first part and /op/ is the last part and if they are given the word school as two parts, they can blend the two into a whole word (i.e., /sch/ /ool/ = school.
  • Kindergarten students prepare for isolating and pronouncing all the sounds in CVC words (consonant-vowel-consonant words) by practicing isolating beginning sounds of words, then ending sounds of words, and, finally, medial (middle) sounds.
  • After practicing isolating beginning, medial, and ending sounds of words separately, kindergarten students demonstrate they can isolate and pronounce all the sounds in CVC words. For example, if orally given the word, “day”, students can isolate and pronounce the two sounds /d/ and /ay/. If orally given the word ”map”, students isolate and pronounce the sounds in the word /m/ /a/ /p/.
  • Kindergarten students can add or substitute or delete sounds in CVC words in the beginning, middle medial) or ending positions. For example, if given the word “mop” and told to substitute the /t/ sound for the /m/ sound, students are able to pronounce the new word /top/. Then if told to change the /o/ sound to an /a/ sound, students are able to identify and pronounce the new word /tap/. Given the word “got”, students recognize that if they remove (delete) the final sound, they will have the word /go/.
  • Kindergarten students know how to use Elkonin boxes, “move it and say it”, picture cards and other materials to help them manipulate sounds in words.
  • Kindergarten students begin to recognize how their mouth and tongue move when saying consonant and vowel sounds.
  • Kindergarten students who demonstrate an understanding of spoken words, syllables and sounds know the following academic vocabulary terms: beginning, middle, end, sound, syllable, add, take away (delete), first part, next part, and one (single).
  • For more ideas to help children understand spoken words, syllables and sounds (phonemes), link to the article, phonemic activities for the pre-school or elementary classroom at LDOnline.

  • How does understanding spoken words, syllables and sounds support a child’s ability to learn to read print?
  • Why is knowing the names of upper and lower case letters helpful when teaching the sounds of those letters?
  • What pre-requisite skills and understandings related to language do kindergarten students need in order understand spoken words, syllables and sounds (phonemes)? (Refer to the article, The Development of Phonological Skills at the Reading Rocket website for further information).
  • Why is it important for students to understand that words have parts (syllables and sounds)?
  • Why is it important for students to “practice to mastery” segmenting and blending onset and rime as well as beginning, middle, and ending sounds in words?
  • How can phoneme addition, substitution, and deletion be used to assess a student’s ability to isolate and correctly pronounce the sounds in a given word?
  • What read-aloud books help children listen to and practice word family repetitions and onset-rime activities?
  • What strategies and materials support students’ understandings of spoken words, syllables and sounds?
  • How does the use of songs, games, role playing, and movement support students understanding of words, syllables and sounds?
  • How do we screen for or assess a student’s ability to break words into syllables or to manipulate sounds in CVC words? (To screen for or quickly assess various foundational reading skills, link to the online PALS: Phonological Awareness Literacy Screening provided by the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia)
  • What academic vocabulary terms should students learn as they work to meet this standard?
  • Where can I find additional information on the Common Core Standards Reading Foundational Skills? (Go to Appendix A, pages 17-22)

SAMPLE PERFORMACE TASKS – (1) After the instruction and teacher modeling and prompting, students make up funny words that rhyme with their name, (2) After listening to the read-aloud, Cat in the Hat, and after teacher modeling, students can orally substitute the beginning sounds in word families such as sat, bat, mat, hat.


Go to RF.1.2 to see the progression of related skills.