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Letters and Sounds
Information for Parents
November 2012
Phonics at a glance
Phonics is…
Skills of
segmentation and
Knowledge of
the alphabetic
Activities we do to encourage phase 1
Phase 1 of letters and
• There are 7 aspects of this phase:
Environmental sounds.
Instrumental sounds
Body percussion
Rhythm and rhyme
Alliteration (words that begin with the same sound)
Voice Sounds
Oral blending and segmenting
Sound Tray
All phase 1 activities are designed
to help children:
• Listen attentively (active listening – not just
responding through habit)
• Enlarge their vocabulary
• Speak confidently to adults and other children
• Discriminate sounds
• Reproduce audibly the sounds they hear, in order,
all through the word, emphasising clear speech
• Use sound talk to break up a word (c-a-t)
Phonics Consists of:
• Identifying sounds in spoken words
• Recognising the common spellings of
each phoneme.
• Blending phonemes into words for
• Segmenting words into phonemes for
Some Definitions
A Phoneme
This is the smallest
unit of sound in a
How many phonemes can
you hear in
• A phoneme you hear
• A grapheme you see
Phase 2
• In order to progress in phase 2- children need
to be able to:
• Distinguish between speech and other sounds
• Hear sounds in words
• Orally blend sounds to build words
• Recognise rhyming words
Listening activities continue to be an important
part of phase 2 in order to develop these
Phase 2 continued
The purpose of phase 2 is to teach at least
19 letters and move children on from orally
building sounds into words, to blending and
segmenting with letters.
They are also taught to read by sight ‘Tricky
words’ that can not be read by sounding.
The first 5 tricky words are:
I the to no go
(The correct way to say a sound)
• Teaching phonics requires a technical skill
in enunciation.
• Phonemes (sounds) should be articulated
clearly and precisely.
The sequence in which letters are taught
Letters are taught in small groups
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 we do in phase 2
• Looking at letter shapes as initial sounds:
tell me something that begins with … I spy
choose a toy – what sound does it begin
with, can you show me a letter…
• Listening to sounds to blend – action game
can you c,l,a,p? Robot game
• Looking at sounds to blend – sounding out
words – treasure chest game
• Splitting up words in order to spell themsegmenting- what sounds can you hear in….
Other key points to phase 2
• Letters are taught as sounds – children need to know the
sound first and then the letter name.
• Children will practise letter formation but are able to use
tools like magnetic letters in order to use their phonics skills,
even if their fine motor skills are not yet well developed.
• They will be encouraged to first read individual words and
then phrases. The first words they read may be VC or CVC
words. (We will give them a reading book when they know at
least 20 letter sounds and the phase 2 words.)
• They will be encouraged to write words and then phrases
• Writing that is not recognisable to an adult is called emergent
writing and is all part of their learning to write journey, and
should be encouraged.
Phase 3
Children entering phase three will
know about 19 letter sounds and be
able to blend and segment simple twoletter words e.g. it, on. They may also
be able to blend and segment threeletter words.
Phase 3 teaches:
• the remaining 25 phonemes, many of which
consist of two letters e.g. oo, sh
• the letter names
• the tricky words he, she, me, we, be, was,
my, you, her, they, all, are.
• We continue to practise and develop the
blending and segmenting skills begun in
phase 2.
Grapheme Key Vocabulary
• Digraph
2 letters making one
sound ( ai, ee, oo)
• Trigraph
3 letters making one
sound ( igh , dge )
• Split diagraph
Where the two letters
are not adjacent
( a-e, e-e )
Sounds covered in Phase 3
Letter Progression:
Set 6 j, v, w, x
Set 7 y, z, zz, qu
Consonant digraphs:
ch, sh, th, ng
ear, air, ure, er, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ai, ee, igh,
oa, oo
Issues arising from phase 3
• Learning to spot digraphs when reading
• confusing th and f
• learning to blend more quickly and
recognise some words on sight so that
reading isn’t too labour-intensive
• attempting to read and write multi-syllable
• trying to sound out words using letter
names rather than sounds
Phase 4
• This is a consolidation unit. There are no
new graphemes to learn. Reading and
spelling of tricky words continues.
• Segmenting adjacent consonants in words
and applying this in spelling.
• Blending adjacent consonants in words and
applying this skill when reading unfamiliar
The children always work within the phase
that is appropriate to their level of
They are assessed regularly and groupings
are sorted accordingly.
Therefore the suggested model of year
group and corresponding phase, does not
always go hand in hand with the year group
that your child is actually in.
Useful web sites
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