The whole aim of phonics teaching is not just to learn the sounds, but to use them as a tool for reading and spelling.’

All pupils at The Grove will be given the opportunity to develop their phonics skills. We follow Letters and Sounds, a phonics programme that is used to support pupils with their reading and spelling. We also draw upon other approaches that may support individual pupils, for example ‘sight reading’

Phase One

Phase one is an important start to early phonics. Even if learners are on higher phases it is important to revisit aspects of Phase One through the reinforcement of different activities. Phase One focuses mostly on listening skills and sound discrimination.

Aspect 1: General sound discrimination – environmental sounds
Aspect 2: General sound discrimination – instrumental sounds
Aspect 3: General sound discrimination – body percussion
Aspect 4: Rhythm and rhyme
Aspect 5: Alliteration – words that start with the same sound are used close together in a phrase or sentence, usually a consonant
Aspect 6: Voice sounds
Aspect 7: Oral blending and segmenting

There is considerable overlap between all aspects and these skills are taught through a range of activities.

Aspect 1

Aim: To develop pupil’s listening skills and awareness of sounds in the environment.
Environmental sounds

  • Identifying sounds in the environment verbally/using pictures/photographs.
  • Responding to particular sounds in the environment.
  • Opportunities to experience different sounds.
  • Sensory stories, e.g. using props etc.
  • Verbalising/identifying/listening to sounds through play, e.g. animal/transport noises.
  • Exposure/reactions to different genres of music, e.g. rock, classical.
  • Sounds/musical toys out of sight– does your child look for them?
  • Responding to their name being called.

Aspect 2

Aim: To experience and develop awareness of sounds made with instruments and noise makers.

  • Making music with a variety of different objects, 
  • Turning/moving body parts to respond to a sound, e.g. a specific instrument, a specific  person.
  • Discriminating between different instrument sounds.
  • Responses to particular sound, e.g. a phone ringing, a vacuum cleaner, particular voices.
  • Making shakers with bottles, musical instruments 

Aspect 3

Aim: To develop awareness of sounds and rhythms.

  • Body percussion, e.g. patting knees, clapping hands independently or with support.
  • Using body parts to make sounds on materials, e.g. a wooden board, moving hands on corrugated card.
  • Moving to a beat/following a simple rhythm in a song.
  • Experience/play instruments fast/slow/loud quiet

Aspect 4

Aim: To experience and appreciate rhythm and rhyme and to develop awareness of rhythm and rhyme in speech.

  • Singing familiar songs/rhymes and sounds within them
  • Linking familiar rhymes to daily activities, e.g. This is way we brush our teeth, (where appropriate) 
  • Listening to familiar songs/rhymes
  • Using a tune to a familiar pop song
  • Singing familiar pop songs
  • Dancing to familiar music, exploring the rhythm in songs.

Aspect 5

Aim: To develop an awareness of alliteration/experience alliteration

  • Use of phrases that use alliteration , e.g. she sells sea shells on the sea shore
  • Opportunities to hear alliteration being used, e.g. describing objects ‘sizzling sausages’
  • Use everyday situations to create a ‘silly’ rhyme during conversations,  e.g. Dinner time – ‘Bouncy baked beans’
  • Use of familiar songs/rhymes that use alliteration.

Aspect 6

Aim: To distinguish between the differences in vocal sounds, including oral blending and segmenting

  • Develop vocabulary by modelling words
  • Use of stories with sound effects, e.g. Were Going On a Bear Hunt, Peace at Last.
  • Pulling faces/moving mouth in a mirror
  • Use of voice sounds when playing, e.g. ‘Wheeee’ on a swing, ‘Vruum vruum’ when playing with a car
  • Intensive Interaction – copying vocal sounds/body movements and gaining attention.

Aspect 7

Aim: To develop oral blending and segmenting of sounds in words.

  • Modelling of letter sounds through activities, e.g. b-b-b for ball
  • opportunities for children to hear simple words sounded out, e.g. c-a-t
  • Exploring letters in a variety of different ways, e.g. in books, sand tray
  • Blowing bubbles to develop oral motor skills.

Phase 2

Pupils entering Phase Two will have experienced a wealth of listening activities, including songs, stories and rhymes. They may be able to distinguish between speech sounds and some may be able to blend and segment words orally. Those pupils who are non-verbal may still have the ability to learn Phase 2 and may go on to read without saying the sounds themselves.

 The purpose of this phase is to teach at least 19 letter sounds and move children on from oral blending and segmentation to blending and segmenting with letters.

  • By the end of the phase children may be able to read some VC (vowel/consonant) and CVC words and how to spell them
  • During the phase they may be introduced to reading two-syllable words and simple captions if appropriate, e.g. cooking, sitting
  • They may also learn to read some high-frequency ‘tricky’ words: the, to, go, no. These words are non-decodable meaning that they cant be sounded out
  • It must always be remembered that phonics is the step up to word recognition
  • Automatic reading of all words – decodable and tricky – is the ultimate goal which some pupils may already be able to do
  • Some pupils may not use Phonics as their preferred method to learn to read and may develop the skill of sight reading.

The letter sounds are taught in the following sets and children move through the sets progressively.
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

Activities/Ideas for Home to practice Letter Sounds

  • Letter matching
  • Going on a letter hunt
  • Matching letters to pictures in catalogues/photographs/objects in the home
  • Searching for objects in the house beginning with the letter sound
  • Phonics fishing in the bath
  • Phonics mats displayed/used at home
  • Letters  hidden in media, e.g. sand, shaving foam
  • Reading books specifically focused on individual letter sounds/ reading books generally
  • Phonics games on computer/apps
  • Modelling of initial sounds of objects around the class / school / environment / house, e.g. ‘b-b-ball’.

Activities/Ideas for Home  to practice CVC Words

  • Matching CVC words
  • Matching CVC words to pictures
  • Reading/sharing books containing CVC words and modelling segmenting and blending words
  • Building CVC words with magnetic letters
  • Writing CVC words in media, e.g. sand, shaving foam
  • Using milk bottle lids with letters on to build CVC words/letters from Scrabble.

Phase 3

Phase 3 introduces twenty-five new graphemes one at a time.

  • Set 6: j, v, w, x 
  • Set 7: y, z, zz, qu 
  • Consonant digraphs: ch, sh, th, ng 
  • Vowel digraphs and trigraphs: ai, ee, igh, oa, oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, ure, er.

Tricky words
During Phase 3, the following tricky words (which cannot yet be decoded) are introduced:

  • he
  • she
  • we
  • me
  • be
  • was
  • you
  • they
  • all
  • are
  • my
  • Her

By the end  of Phase 3, pupils  should be able to say the sound made by most, or all, Phase 2 and 3 graphemes, blend and read CVC words made from these graphemes, read 12 new tricky words and write letters correctly when given an example to copy

Phase 4

From Phase 4  onwards is about consolidating and refining pupils knowledge, introducing more spelling patterns and tricky words, and increasing vocabulary.

 Pupils will:

  • Practise reading and spelling CVCC words (‘bump’, ‘nest’, ‘belt,’ ‘milk’, etc)
  • Practise reading and spelling high frequency words
  • Practise reading and writing sentences
  • Learn more tricky words, including ‘have,’ ‘like,’ ‘some,’ ‘little’

Phase 5

At Phase 5, we start introducing alternative spellings for sounds, like ‘igh’.

Pupils master these in reading first, and as their fluency develops, we begin to see them using them correctly in spelling’.

Pupils  learn new graphemes (different ways of spelling each sound) and alternative pronunciations for these: for example, learning that the grapheme ‘ow’ makes a different sound in ‘snow’ and ‘cow’. 

Pupils  learn about split digraphs (the ‘magic e’) such as the a-e in ‘name’.

Pupils will  start to choose the right graphemes when spelling, and will learn more tricky words, including ‘people,’ ‘water’ and ‘friend’. They also learn one new phoneme: /zh/, as in ‘treasure’.

By the of Phase 5, pupils should be able to:

  • Say the sound for any grapheme they are shown
  • Write the common graphemes for any given sound (e.g. ‘e,’ ‘ee,’ ‘ie,’ ‘ea’)
  • Use their phonics knowledge to read and spell unfamiliar words of up to three syllables
  • Read all of the 100 high frequency words, and be able to spell most of them
  • Form letters correctly

Phase 6

By Phase 6, pupils should be able to read hundreds of words using one of three strategies:

  • Reading them automatically
  • Decoding them quickly and silently
  • Decoding them aloud

Pupil’s spelling should be phonemically accurate, although it may still be a little unconventional at times. Spelling usually lags behind reading, as it is harder. 

Technical Vocabulary

  • Phoneme – a sound as it is said.
  • Grapheme – a sound that is written.
  • Digraph – Two letters that work together to make the same sound, e.g. ch as in chicken.
  • Trigraph – Three letters that work together to make the same sound, e.g. igh as in high.
  • Split digraph – Two letters that work together to make the same sound, separated by another letter, e.g. a-e as in bake.
  • Blending blending letter sounds together.
  • Sounding out breaking down sounds within a word, e.g. c-a-t