Phonics Teaching and Letters and Sounds at Crofton Infants’ School

At Crofton Infants’ School we follow Letters and Sounds to teach Phonics.

Phonics sessions take place everyday for 20-30minutes. Sessions are differentiated, well paced and most of all fun!

Each session has four parts: We revisit and review previous sound and word building. We teach a new phonic skill. We practise the new skill and then children are given the opportunity to apply their newly learnt skills in different situations.

Letters and Sounds splits phonics teaching up into six distinct phases.

Phase 1 – Begins at birth and never finishes…

The first phase of Letters and Sounds helps develop children’s speaking and listening skills and lays the foundations for the phonic work, which starts in phase 2. The push during phase 1 is on getting children attuned to the sounds around them and ready to begin developing oral blending and segmenting skills.

Phase 2 (Nursery/Reception)

Children entering phase 2 will have experienced lots of listening activities, including songs, stories and rhymes. They will be able to distinguish between speech sounds and many will be able to blend and segment words orally. Some will also be able to recognise spoken words, which rhyme and will be able to say a string of words, which rhyme. The purpose of phase 2 is to teach at least 19 letters and sounds and move children on from oral blending and segmenting to blending and segmenting with letters. By the end of the phase children will be able to read some VC (vowel-consonant e.g. in, at, on) and CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant e.g. cat, mop, run) words and to spell them using magnetic letters or by writing. During the phase they will be introduced to reading two-syllable words and simple captions. They will also learn to read the tricky words: the, to, go, no, I, and

Phase 3 (Reception)

Children entering phase 3 will already know around 19 letters and their sounds and will be able to blend these to read and spell VC words. They will also be able to blend to read and segment to spell CVC words orally. Over the course of phase 3 we teach another 25 graphemes/phoneme correspondences (letters groups and sounds), most of them comprising of 2 letters. Children will continue to practise CVC blending and segmenting and will apply this to reading and spelling two-syllable words and writing captions, sentences and questions. Children will learn to read and spell a further 12 tricky words: he, she, we, me, be, was, you, they, all, are, my & her

 Age Related Expectation by the end of Reception

It is our expectation that the vast majority of children will be secure at phase 3 by the end of the Reception year. This is the national benchmark.  Children who reach this milestone are described as being ‘school ready’ in terms of their phonic knowledge and understanding.

What is school ready?

The early learning goals at the end of the Reception year describe what children are typically able to do.

Reading early learning goal

  • Children read and understand simple sentences.
  • They use phonic knowledge to decode regular words and read them aloud accurately.
  • They also read some common irregular words (tricky words).
  • They demonstrate understanding when talking with others about what they have read.

Writing early learning goal

  • Children use their phonic knowledge to write words in ways, which match their spoken sounds.
  • They also write some irregular common words (tricky words).
  • They write simple sentences, which can be read by themselves and others.
  • Some words are spelt correctly and others are phonetically plausible.

Phase 4 (Reception/Year 1)

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. Children working at phase 4 will be able to give the sound when shown any phase 2 and phase 3 grapheme. They will be able to blend to read, and segment to spell words containing adjacent consonants. They will be able to read the 32 tricky words and will be able to spell most. During phase 4, the following tricky words are taught: said, have, like, so, do, some, come, were, there, little, one, when, out, & what

 Phase 5 (Year 1)

In phase 5 children will broaden their knowledge of graphemes and phonemes for reading and spelling in line with the spelling expectations for year 1 (National Curriculum). During this phase children are taught to read and spell the following tricky words: oh, their, people, Mr, Mrs, looked, called, asked, could, would & should

Age Related Expectation by the end of Year 1

It is our expectation that most children will be secure at phase 5 by the end of Year 1. This is described as the age related expectation for the end of Year 1 and forms the content for the Phonic Screening Check in the summer term.

Phase 6 (Year 2 and beyond)

In Year 2 children learn some of the rarer phoneme/ grapheme correspondences. They develop the ability to recognise digraphs as representing one sound. Children should become more fluent readers during this phase and develop a range of comprehension strategies. Phase 6 also places greater emphasis on spelling. Children learn to identify the tricky bit in a word. They develop strategies for spelling longer words and begin to explore spelling conventions e.g. including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc.
“Note that the teaching of spelling cannot be completed in Year 2 – it needs to continue rigorously throughout primary school and beyond if necessary.” Letters and Sounds

What are ‘Tricky words’?

Tricky words are words that cannot be ‘sounded-out’ but need to be learned by heart. They don’t fit into the usual spelling patterns. In order to read simple sentences, it is necessary for children to know some words that have unusual or untaught spellings. It should be noted that, when teaching these words, it is important to always start with sounds already known in the word, then focus on the ‘tricky’ part.

What are High Frequency words?

High frequency words (common) are words that recur frequently in much of the written material young children read and that they need when they write.

What do the Phonics terms mean?

Phoneme: The smallest unit of sound in a word, e.g. c/a/t, sh/o/p, t/ea/ch/er.

Grapheme: A letter or group of letter representing one sound, e.g. sh, igh, t.

Clip Phonemes:  when teaching sounds, always clip them short ‘mmmm’ not ‘muh’

Digraph: Two letters, which together make one sound, e.g. sh, ch, ee, ph, oa.

Split digraph: Two letters, which work as a pair, split, to represent one sound, e.g. a-e as in cake, or i-e as in kite.

Trigraph:  three letters which together make one sound but cannot be separated into smaller phonemes, e.g. igh as in light, ear as in heard, tch as in watch.

Segmentation: means hearing the individual phonemes within a word – for instance the word ‘crash’ consists of four phonemes: ‘c – r – a – sh’. In order to spell this word, a child must segment it into its component phonemes and choose a grapheme to represent each phoneme.

Blending: means merging the individual phonemes together to pronounce a word. In order to read an unfamiliar word, a child must recognise (‘sound out’) each grapheme, not each letter (e.g. ‘th-i-n’ not ‘t-h-i-n’), and then merge the phonemes together to make the word.

Mnemonics: a device for memorising and recalling something, such as a hand action of a drill to remember the phoneme /d/.

Adjacent consonants:  two or three letters with discrete sounds, which are blended together e.g. str, cr, tr, gr. (previously consonant clusters).

Comprehension: understanding of language whether it is spoken or written.


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