At Westrop we are following The Department for Education’s Phonics Scheme called Letters and Sounds in EYFS, Year 1 and Year 2 and through KS2 where needed.
What is Phonics?
Phonics is a method of teaching children to read, it runs from Phase one to Phase six. Phonics works by breaking words down into its individual sounds. There are 44 different sounds in the English language. Learning to read with phonics is therefore a bit like learning a code, after learning just a few sounds, you will be able to use this code to read 100's of words. The more sounds you know, the more words you will be able to work out how to read.
Practising sounds as they are taught in school when at home is one of the biggest ways of children improve their reading. Children who are read to at home, or read at home themselves, even for just a few minutes a week, make noticeable improvements compared to those who do not.
Of course phonics is not that simple! Phonemes (or sounds) can be made up of one, two, three or four letters. The word for what we write down for the sound is called a grapheme. You have different types of grapheme depending on how many letters it has e.g. 2 letters is called a digraph (sh as in sheep) 3 letters a trigraph (igh as in night) 4 letters a quadgraph (eigh as in eight) and a split digraph where one letter goes between the digraph splitting it ( a- e as in cake) Children start learning the correct vocabulary for phonemes (sounds) and graphemes (what we write down) from Phase 2 and are confident in identifying these by the end of Phase 5.
The Phonics Codebreaker
- Phoneme - a sound as it is said
- Grapheme - a sound that is written
- Digraph- two letters that work together to make the same sound
- Trigraph - three letters that work together to make the same sound
- Quadgraph - four letters that work together to make the same sound
- Split digraph - two letters that work together to make the same sound, separated by another letter.
Phase 1 is typically covered in nursery and concentrates on developing children's speaking and listening skills and lays the foundations for the phonic work which starts in Phase 2 in reception. 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 activities are arranged under the following seven aspects.
- Aspect 1, 2, 3: General sound discrimination – environmental sounds, instrumental sounds & body percussion
- Aspect 4: Rhythm and rhyme
- Aspect 5: Alliteration
- Aspect 6: Voice sounds
- Oral blending and segmenting
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.
Song of Sounds
Song of Sounds is a resource that we use to support the teaching of the sounds outlined in the Letters and Sounds scheme through catchy songs and rhythmic actions.
Please click the link here to hear an example of the songs and see the sounds.
WARNING! It will get stuck in your head.
The Song of Sounds rhymes are divided into the Letter and Sounds phases starting at Phase 2.
The purpose of this phase is to teach at least 19 letters and sounds and move children on from oral blending and segmentation to blending and segmenting with letters. We teach the children the letter name and the sound alongside this we have a catchy action and rhyme to support the recognition of the letter and sound. We call these speed sounds and we teach them in sets.
Phases 2, 3 and 4 are covered in Reception and include the teaching of tricky words that the children will learn in each phase.
By the end of the phase 2 many children should be able to read some Vowel Consonant (VC) and Consonant Vowel Consonant (CVC) words and to spell them. During the phase they will be introduced to reading two-syllable words and simple captions. Children use a sound mat to support their recognition of letters and sounds to help develop their writing.
They will also learn to read some high-frequency ‘tricky’ words.
Please see the Westrop Letter and Sounds overview for more detail of phonemes and tricky words covered in these phases.
The purpose of this phase is to teach another 25 graphemes, most of them comprising of two letters (e.g. oa). Children also continue to practise CVC blending and segmentation in this phase and will apply their knowledge of blending and segmenting to reading and spelling simple two-syllable words and captions. They will learn letter names during this phase, learn to read some more tricky words and begin to learn to spell some of these words.
The purpose of this phase is to consolidate children’s knowledge of graphemes in reading and spelling words containing adjacent consonants and polysyllabic words. These words are for using in the activities – practising blending for reading and segmenting for spelling.
Most children will progress to Phase 5 of the Letters and Sounds phonics programme during year 1. This phase lasts for the majority of year 1 and parts are revised going into year 2. It focuses on new sounds in Phase 5a, alternate pronunciation of some sounds already taught in Phase 5b and alternative spellings (sound families) in Phase 5c. Children will revise previously taught ‘high-frequency words’ and learn new lists of words to read and write fluently and will also learn to read and write sentences and polysyllabic words (words with two or more syllables).
Children will learn a further set of sounds. They will practise instant recall of these sounds as well as blending them together to read words. Alongside this, children will practise writing sounds correctly and segmenting words into sounds in order to spell them correctly.
Children will look at some alternative ways of pronouncing sounds they already know and will begin to learn to differentiate between these pronunciations when reading and writing words.
Children will learn that the same sound (phoneme) can be spelt in different ways (graphemes) and will begin to learn to differentiate between these when writing and reading words, grouping them into ‘sound families’.
Phase 6 / Y2 National Curriculum
Most children will progress to Phase 6 of the Letters and Sounds phonics programme in year 2. The aim of Phase 6 is for children to build on their existing phonic skills and become better, more accurate spellers and more fluent readers.
During Phase 6 Children will…
- Revise the phonemes and graphemes learnt during Phase 5, especially the vowel sounds as these can be difficult to remember – for example, the sound ‘ay’ can appear in several different forms: play, wait, cake, weigh, great.
- Learn more complex phonemes and graphemes in their sound families that are outlined in the Year 2 National Curriculum e.g. ‘j’ written /ge/dge/
- Learn how to change regular verbs into the simple past tense by adding the suffix ‘-ed’, for example walk/walked, jump/jumped, bake/baked. (A regular verb follows the ‘ed’ rule; an irregular verb changes in a different way, e.g. fly/flew, sing/sang.)
- Learn how prefixes and suffixes (letters before and after words, such as ‘un-’ or ‘-ful’) change the meaning or purpose of a word, and they also learn how the spelling of some words changes when suffixes are added.
- Learn how to spell common homophones (words that sound the same but have a different spelling and meaning), e.g. their/there/ they’re, two/to/too.
- Learn how to use an apostrophe for contraction, e.g. do not/don’t cannot/can’t.