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Skill Explainer

Phoneme Manipulation Skill Explainer

Erin Kosteva, M.Ed.

3. Explicitly Teach Phoneme Manipulation

A Step-by-Step Phoneme Manipulation Lesson

A phoneme is the smallest sound we hear when we say words. We have learned to hear the sounds and put them back together to make whole words. Remember?

Let’s stretch and say the word sit:

/s/, /ĭ/, /t/


What if I take away the /s/ sound in sit

What’s left? 

That’s right! It

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be learning to take away, add, and change sounds in words.

Students manipulating felt squares

The word is see.

I see a yellow pencil.


/s/, /ē/

Now say see without the /s/.


The word is mow.

I had to mow the grass.


What word?


Touch and say the sounds in mow.

/m/, /ō/

Now remove the /m/ sound.

Say mow without the /m/.


Mastering each level of a task before moving on builds automaticity and fluency. Start with manipulating the beginning phoneme. Next, manipulate the ending phoneme. Then do the middle phoneme. If a word has a blend at the beginning or end, do that sound last.

Reading Universe is made possible by generous support from Jim & Donna Barksdale, the AFT, the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, and three anonymous donors.

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