Young children love to listen to and imitate sounds! Parents should encourage this natural inclination as often as possible, because this vocal play is actually helping children develop early phonological awareness skills. Phonological awareness is the ability to hear and manipulate words, syllables, and sounds in oral language. It is one of the strongest predictors of later reading ability.
Children develop phonological awareness through deliberate and explicit instruction, with plenty of opportunity for repetition and practice. Instruction should be just like the game below from Kindermusik@Home: brief, focused, playful, and active to keep children engaged. For young children, it’s best to incorporate images to help make a connection between an object and its sound.
Let’s Be Vehicles: A Phonological Awareness Game for Young Children
This adorable vocal play game wants you to come along on a chugga-chugga, vreeeooooooom, putt-a-putt-putt, beeeeeep-beeeeeep, bringg-bringg ride, and be ready to make some noises along the way. Play the “Let’s Be Vehicles” game.
For an added challenge, after playing this game with a young child a few times, try practicing the auditory discrimination game away from the computer. Ask: “What sound does a motor boat make?” Make the sound of the airplane and ask, “What makes this sound?”