Phonics

All you need to know about phonics.

Learning to read through phonics should be fun.

If your child attends school you will be coming across words like phonemes - graphemes - decoding - digraphs and trigraphs. This is a step by step guide which will take you through the different stages of phonics learning and what your child will be expected to learn and the vocabulary you need to know.

So just what is PHONICS?

Phonics is just a method of teaching reading by linking sounds. 

Phonemes - is the sound the letters make (think of your phone and talking to people as a way to remember)

A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound used in the English language. There are 44 phonemes even though there are only 26 letters in our alphabet.

Click the PDF symbol for a printable A4 sheet from Communication4all.co.uk     

Graphemes - is the symbol that represents the sound (think of drawing something as a way to remember)

There are different phonics programmes.  Some of the phonics programmes have information and activities that parents can access to further help your child.

Here is a list of some of those programmes:-

Floppy's Phonics Sounds and Letters

Jolly Phonics

Letterland Phonics

Letters and Sounds

Phonics Bug

Phonics International

Read Write Inc

Sound Discovery

Sounds-Write

Tap Tap Bat System

Phonics is a method of learning to read that is taught from reception. It is grouped into 6 phases.

Phase 1 - pre-school, nursery and the start of reception

Phase 2 - Reception

Phase 3 - Reception

Phase 4 - Year 1

Phase 5 - Year 1

Phase 6 - Year 2

Click below for some great links to phonic websites.
abc Fast Phonics. 
Sign up and use the site for free. Helps you and your child understand the different sounds the phonemes make
Phonics Play
Lots of free games on this site. Worth checking out.
Letters and Sounds
The letters and sounds scheme.
ICT Games
Literacy games and a lot more
Star Fall
An American site that's lots of fun.
BBC Bitesize
Some good literacy games here

Phase One

Click on the different aspects to find some great ideas

Phase One of Letters and Sounds concentrates on developing children's speaking and listening skills and lays the foundations for the phonic work which starts in Phase 2. The emphasis during Phase 1 is to get children attuned to the sounds around them and ready to begin developing oral blending and segmenting skills.
Phase 1 is divided into seven aspects. Each aspect contains three strands: tuning in to sounds, listening and remembering sounds and talking about sounds.
 
It is intended that each of the first six aspects should be dipped into, rather than going through them in any order, with a balance of activities. Aspect 7 will usually come later, when children have had plenty of opportunity to develop their sound discrimination skills.

Aspect 1 - General sound discrimination - environmental
To raise awareness of the sounds around them and to develop their listening skills. Activities could include going on a listening walk, drumming on different items outside and comparing the sounds and making shakers.
 

Aspect 2 - General sound discrimination - instrumental sounds
This aspect aims to develop your child's awareness of sounds made by various instruments and noise makers. Activities could include comparing and matching sound makers, playing instruments alongside a story and making loud and quiet sounds.
 

Aspect 3 - General sound discrimination - body percussion
The aim of this aspect is to develop your child's awareness of sounds and rhythms. Activities could include singing songs and action rhymes, listening to music and developing a sounds vocabulary.
 

Aspect 4 - Rhythm and rhyme
This aspect aims to develop children's appreciation and experiences of rhythm and rhyme in speech. Activities include rhyming stories, rhyming bingo, clapping out the syllables in words and odd one out.
 

Aspect 5 - Alliteration
The focus is on initial sounds of words, with activities including I-Spy type games and matching objects which begin with the same sound.
 

Aspect 6 - Voice sounds
The aim is to distinguish between different vocal sounds and to begin oral blending and segmenting. 
 

Aspect 7 - Oral blending and segmenting
In this aspect, the main aim is to develop oral blending and segmenting skills.
To practise oral blending, Say some sounds, such as /c/-/u/-/p/ and see whether your child can pick out a cup from a group of objects. For segmenting practise, you could hold up an object such as a sock and ask  which sounds they can hear in the word sock.

Phase Two

 

In Phase 2, letters and their sounds are introduced one at a time. This phase covers 19 different grapheme- phoneme correspondences (GPCs).

 

Phoneme means the smallest unit of sound. There are 44 phonemes in English. Phonemes can be put together to make words.

 

Grapheme means the way of writing down a phoneme. Graphemes can be made up from 1 letter e.g. p, 2 letters e.g. sh, 3 letters e.g. tch or 4 letters e.g ough.

Knowing a GPC, means being able to match a phoneme to a grapheme and vice versa.

A set of sounds is taught each week, in the following sequence:

 

Set 1    s, a, t, p

Set 2    i, n, m, d

Set 3    g, o, c, k

Set 4    ck, e, u, r 

Set 5    h, b, f,  ff, l, ll, ss
 

As soon as each set of letters is introduced, children will be encouraged to use their knowledge of the letter sounds to blend and sound out words. For example, they will learn to blend the sounds s-a-t to make the word sat. They will also start learning to segment words. For example, they might be asked to find the letter sounds that make the word tap from a small selection of magnetic letters.

 

Blending- This involves looking at a written word, looking at each grapheme and using knowledge of GPCs to work out which phoneme each grapheme represents and then merging these phonemes together to make a word. This is the basis of reading.

 

Oral Segmenting - This is the act of hearing a whole word and then splitting it up into the phonemes that make it. Children need to develop this skill before they will be able to segment words to spell them.

 

Segmenting - This involves hearing a word, splitting it up into the phonemes that make it, using knowledge of GPCs to work out which graphemes represent those phonemes and then writing those graphemes down in the right order. This is the basis of spelling.

Blending and segmenting are taught as reversible processes.

 

Phase 2 Set 1 Letters and Words

In Set 1, the first four sounds are introduced and seven words can be used for segmenting and blending:

s, a, t, p    - at, a, sat, pat, tap, sap, as

 

Phase 2 Set 2 Letters and Words

Set 2 includes four new sounds. As each new sound is learnt, children will be able to sound out several new words, as follows:

i - it, is, sit, sat, pit, tip, pip, sip

n - an, in, nip, pan, pin, tin, tan, nap

m - am, man, mam, mat, map, Pam, Tim, Sam

d - dad, and, sad, dim, dip, din, did, Sid

 

Phase 2 Set 3 Letters and Words

Set 3 introduces four new sounds, with 28 new decodable words suggested, including five high frequency words, shown in italics below:

g - tag, gag, gig, gap, nag, sag, gas, pig, dig

o - got, on, not, pot, top, dog, pop, God, Mog

c - can, cot, cop, cap, cat, cod

k - kid, kit, Kim, Ken

high frequency words: the, to, I, go, no

 

Phase 2 Set 4 Letters and Words

Set 4 introduces four new graphemes, with 36 new decodable words suggested. For the first time, some of the suggested words contain two syllables, such as pocket, sunset etc.

ck - kick, sock, sack, dock, pick, sick, pack, ticket, pocket

e - get, pet, ten, net, pen, peg, met, men, neck

u - up, mum, run, mug, cup, sun, tuck, mud, sunset

r - rim, rip, ram, rat, rag, rug, rot, rocket, carrot

 

Phase 2 Set 5 Letters and Words

Set 5 introduces seven graphemes (three of which are doubled letters), with 69 new decodable words suggested.

h - had, him, his, hot, hut, hop, hum, hit, hat, has, hack, hug

b - but, big, back, bet, bad, bag, bed, bud, beg, bug, bun, bus, Ben, bat, bit, bucket, beckon, rabbit

f, ff - of, if, off, fit, fin, fun, fig, fog, puff, huff, cuff, fan, fat

l, ll - lap, let, leg, lot, lit, bell, fill, doll, tell, sell, Bill, Nell, dull, laptop

ss - ass, less, hiss, mass, mess, boss, fuss, hiss, pass, kiss, Tess, fusspot


This Phase also introduces 'tricky words' - these are high frequency words which are not easily decodeable - the, to, I, no, go, into. 

 

The typical duration of this phase is 6 weeks.  

Phase Three


By the time they reach Phase 3, children will already be able to blend and segment words containing the 19 sounds taught in Phase 2.
Over the twelve weeks which Phase 3 is expected to last, twenty-five new graphemes are introduced (one at a time), most of which consist of 2 letters. The children will now know one representation of each of 44 phonemes.  Knowing these new sounds will help them to spell two syllable words.
 
Phoneme means the smallest unit of sound. There are 44 phonemes in English. Phonemes can be put together to make words.
 
Grapheme means the way of writing down a phoneme. Graphemes can be made up from 1 letter e.g. p, 2 letters e.g. sh, 3 letters e.g. tch or 4 letters e.g ough.
 
Knowing a GPC (grapheme-phoneme correspondence), means being able to match a phoneme to a grapheme and vice versa.
Set 6: j v w x
Set 7: y z, zz qu
Consonant digraphs- ch, sh, th, ng
Vowel diagraphs- ai, ee, igh, oa, oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, ure, er
 
Digraph means a grapheme containing two letters that makes just one sound (phoneme).
 
Trigraph means a grapheme containing three letters that makes just one sound (phoneme).

Children will continue to develop blending and segmenting skills throughout Phase 3.
Blending- This involves looking at a written word, looking at each grapheme and using knowledge of GPCs to work out which phoneme each grapheme represents and then merging these phonemes together to make a word. This is the basis of reading.

 
Oral Segmenting - This is the act of hearing a whole word and then splitting it up into the phonemes that make it. Children need to develop this skill before they will be able to segment words to spell them.
 
Segmenting - This involves hearing a word, splitting it up into the phonemes that make it, using knowledge of GPCs to work out which graphemes represent those phonemes and then writing those graphemes down in the right order. This is the basis of spelling.
 
During Phase 3, the following tricky words (which can't yet be decoded) are introduced:
he, she, we, me, be, was, you, they, all, are, my, her

Phase Four


When children start Phase Four of the phonics programme, they will know a grapheme for each of the 44 phonemes. They will be able to blend phonemes to read CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words and segment in order to spell them.
Children will also have begun reading straightforward two-syllable words and simple captions, as well as reading and spelling some tricky words.
 
Phoneme means the smallest unit of sound. There are 44 phonemes in English. Phonemes can be put together to make words.
 
Grapheme means the way of writing down a phoneme. Graphemes can be made up from 1 letter e.g. p, 2 letters e.g. sh, 3 letters e.g. tch or 4 letters e.g ough.
Knowing a GPC (grapheme-phoneme correspondence), means being able to match a phoneme to a grapheme and vice versa.
 
Blending- This involves looking at a written word, looking at each grapheme and using knowledge of GPCs to work out which phoneme each grapheme represents and then merging these phonemes together to make a word. This is the basis of reading.
 
Oral Segmenting - This is the act of hearing a whole word and then splitting it up into the phonemes that make it. Children need to develop this skill before they will be able to segment words to spell them.
 
Segmenting - This involves hearing a word, splitting it up into the phonemes that make it, using knowledge of GPCs to work out which graphemes represent those phonemes and then writing those graphemes down in the right order. This is the basis of spelling.
 
In Phase 4, no new graphemes are introduced. The main aim of this phase is to consolidate the children's knowledge and to help them learn to read and spell words which have adjacent consonants, such as trap, string and milk.
The children are also taught to spell the following 'tricky words' (words which can't yet be decoded):
he    she   we   me   be   was   my you   her   they   all   are;
 
and to read these tricky words:
some,  one,  said,  come,  do,  so,  were,  when,  have,  there,  out,  like, little,  what

Typically this phase will last for 4 - 8 weeks.


Phase Five

Children entering Phase Five will already be able to read and spell words with adjacent consonants, such as trap, string and flask. They will also be able to read and spell some polysyllabic words (words containing more than one syllable).
In Phase Five, children will learn more graphemes and phonemes. For example, they already know ai as in rain, but now they will be introduced to ay as in day and a-e as in make.
Alternative pronunciations for graphemes will also be introduced, e.g. ea in tea, head and break.
 
Phoneme means the smallest unit of sound. There are 44 phonemes in English. Phonemes can be put together to make words.
 
Grapheme means the way of writing down a phoneme. Graphemes can be made up from 1 letter e.g. p, 2 letters e.g. sh, 3 letters e.g. tch or 4 letters e.g ough.
 
Knowing a GPC (grapheme-phoneme correspondence), means being able to match a phoneme to a grapheme and vice versa.
 
Blending- This involves looking at a written word, looking at each grapheme and using knowledge of GPCs to work out which phoneme each grapheme represents and then merging these phonemes together to make a word. This is the basis of reading.
 
Oral Segmenting - This is the act of hearing a whole word and then splitting it up into the phonemes that make it. Children need to develop this skill before they will be able to segment words for spelling.
 
Segmenting - This involves hearing a word, splitting it up into the phonemes that make it, using knowledge of GPCs to work out which graphemes represent those phonemes and then writing those graphemes down in the right order. This is the basis of spelling.
 
This Phase typically runs throughout Year One for approximately 30 weeks

Jolly Learning
Some free resources for the Jolly Phonics programme
Letterland
Some free resources for Letterland Phonics
Letters and Sounds
Some free resources for Letters and Sounds