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Fun Ways to Build Kinesthetic Awareness: Unlocking the Power of Kinesthetic Awareness in Phonemic Sensitivity

Are you looking for engaging ways to build kinesthetic awareness of sounds in learners? Kinesthetic awareness, which involves understanding how the mouth, tongue, and lips move to produce different sounds, is essential to building phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness, the understanding that spoken words are made of individual sounds, is crucial for learners as it allows them to recognize and manipulate sounds in the English language.  By developing kinesthetic awareness of sounds, learners can better understand the relationship between mouth movements and sound production.


Joyful experiences with reading can help build confidence and self-esteem in emerging readers, encouraging them to continue exploring the world of reading and literacy. Here are a few fun activities to foster kinesthetic awareness of sounds, empowering learners to distinguish and produce sounds correctly and confidently. 


Sound Shape Explorer 

Engage learners in a "Sound Shape Explorer" game where they explore how moving their mouths can change the sounds they make. Grab a mirror and pictures that show different mouth shapes and positions. Another option is demonstrating the movements to provide a real-life representation of how we make letter sounds. Have them mimic these shapes while making different sounds and watching their movements in the mirror. For example, point out how you need to round the lips to produce the long /o/ sound in the word “go” or how touching the tongue to the roof of the mouth helps create the /t/ sound. Educators can use this game to demonstrate how certain sounds cannot be formed under different conditions. Trying to say the /m/ sound with a pinched nose or attempting the /p/ sound with a closed mouth adds a fun twist to the challenge! Through this kinesthetic exploration, learners can see and feel how letter sounds come to life!


Voiced vs. Unvoiced Detective

boy with hand on voicebox
You can become "Voiced vs. Unvoiced Detectives" and investigate how we make different letter sounds. Have learners touch their throats to feel the vibrations while producing different sounds. Compare how the voicebox feels making voiced sounds, where the vocal cords vibrate (e.g., /z/), and unvoiced sounds, where the vocal cords are still (e.g., /s/). Also, point out to learners that when saying the two sounds of TH (like in they versus think), they are formed with the same mouth position but represent a voiced and unvoiced pair. It's subtle, but children will love being able to feel the difference. This hands-on practice turns learners into sound sleuths, training little ears to detect the subtle differences between voiced and unvoiced sounds like pros! 


Examples of Voiced and Unvoiced Pairs

  • /th/ and /TH/
  • /s/ and /z/
  • /p/ and /b/
  • /f/ and /v/
  • /sh/ and /zh/

Tongue Twister Challenge

Challenge learners to a "Tongue Twister Challenge" to play with kinesthetic awareness of sounds. Have learners listen and repeat tongue twisters containing different sounds and patterns. As learners attempt to say these tongue twisters, they start to notice the tricky moves the tongue needs to make for each sound.  Ask questions like, "How did you feel when saying this tongue twister?" or "What did you notice about how your tongue moved?" These questions help learners pay close attention to how sound works. This game not only helps build strong phonemic awareness but is fun for everyone!

Sound Yoga

Get active while learning by incorporating yoga-inspired movements into sound exploration by playing "Sound Yoga" and linking specific sounds to fun poses. For example, learners can stretch their arms to the sky while making long vowel sounds or crouch down low while saying short vowel sounds. The peaceful vibe of Sound Yoga can help learners relax and focus, creating a safe environment for sound exploration.

Strengthening kinesthetic awareness of sounds through engaging activities enhances phonemic awareness, an essential foundational reading skill. By providing opportunities for hands-on exploration of mouth placement and movement, vocal cord vibrations, and tongue positioning, educators can empower learners to become strong and fluent readers. 


Check out our website for additional Phonemic Awareness Practice Activities:
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