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Phonics Support Guide for Parents - Leaflet 2020


Phase 1 phonics

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.  

The activities introduced in Phase 1 are intended to continue throughout the following phases, as lots of practice is needed before children will become confident in their phonic knowledge and skills.

Phase 1 is divided into seven aspects:

Aspect 1 – General sound discrimination – environmental

The aim of this aspect is to raise children’s awareness of the sounds around them and to develop their listening skills. Activities suggested may include going on a listening walk, drumming on different items outside and comparing the sounds, playing a sounds lotto game and making shakers.

Aspect 2 – General sound discrimination – instrumental sounds

This aspect aims to develop children’s awareness of sounds made by various instruments and noise makers. Activities 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 children’s awareness of sounds and rhythms. Activities 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. Activities may include Metal Mike, where children feed pictures of objects into a toy robot’s mouth and the teacher sounds out the name of the object in a robot voice – /c/-/u/-/p/ cup, with the children joining in.

Aspect 7 – Oral blending and segmenting

In this aspect, the main aim is to develop oral blending and segmenting skills.

To practise oral blending, the teacher could say some sounds, such as /c/-/u/-/p/ and see whether the children can pick out a cup from a group of objects. For segmenting practise, the teacher could hold up an object such as a sock and ask the children which sounds they can hear in the word sock.


During Phase 2 letters and their sounds are taught in the following order.

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 has been introduced, children are encouraged to use their knowledge of the letter sounds to blend and sound out words.  They can blend the letters s-a-t to read the word sat and similarly will be able to find the letters s, a, t from a small selection of letters when asked to spell the word sat (segmenting).

Tricky words (words which cannot yet be decoded) are also taught: the, to, I, no, go, into


During Phase 3 a further 26 graphemes are taught:  

Set 6 : j, v, w, x

Set 7: y, z, zz, qu

Consonant digraphs: ch, sh, th, ng

Vowel digraphs/trigraphs: ai, ee, igh, oa, oo/oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi. ear,  air, ure, er

As each new set of sounds is learnt, children will be given lots of opportunities to practise applying them by using their growing knowledge of sounds to blend (for reading) and segment (for spelling) words.

They will also revise Phase 2 sounds regularly during the revisit part of their daily phonics session.

Tricky words (words which cannot yet be decoded) are also taught: he, she, we, me, be, was, my, you, her, they, all, are.



During Phase 4 no new graphemes are introduced.

The main aim of this Phase is to help consolidate the children’s knowledge in learning to read and spell words with adjacent consonants e.g. trap, string, milk.

As children enter Phase 4 they will already be confident in blending to read and segmenting to spell many CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words such as shut, thin, chat.  *Note* The first two letters in each of these words blend together to make one sound (phoneme) and are therefore counted as one sound which is why they are classed as CVC words.

Learning is focused on the reading and writing of a variety of words, captions and simple sentences using the sounds already learnt in previous phases through the use of games, picture and word cards and other activities which promote the application of knowledge gained so far.

Tricky words(words which cannot yet be decoded) are also taught: said, have, like, so, do, some, come, were, there, little, one, when, out, what


During Phase 5 children will learn more graphemes and phonemes.

Alternative spellings for graphemes will also be introduced e.g. they already know ‘ai’ as in rain from Phase 3 but will now also be introduced to ‘ay’ as in crayon and ‘a-e’ as in make.

Alternative pronunciations for graphemes will also be introduced e.g. ‘ea’ as in tea, head and break.

With practise the children’s speed at recognising and blending graphemes improves.

Reading and spelling knowledge will be worked on extensively through a variety of games and activities which promote and encourage the application of knowledge gained.

Tricky words (words which cannot yet be decoded) are also taught: oh, their, people, Mr, Mrs, looked, called, asked, could


During Phase 6 children will continue to extensively practise reading and spelling of words containing the graphemes/phonemes they have learnt so far.

They will also begin to explore how to use the past tense, adding suffixes and prefixes to words and the rules that apply to these processes using a variety of spelling games and activities which challenge the children to think about the strategies they have been taught and apply them both during their Phonics sessions and within their Literacy work.

As with all the Phases, there are a great number of good websites which contain fun games to help the children with their learning.



The Phonics Screening Test is a short assessment given to all children in Year 1. The test seeks to check whether children have learned to decode written words using their phonic skills to a required level.
The test is compulsory in all state schools and is given to pupils towards the end of Year 1, usually during the 2nd or 3rd week of June. If pupils have not reached the expected level, they will be tested again in Year 2.


A teacher who is well known to the child (but not necessarily the class teacher) will carry out the test.


The test is carried out on a one to one basis with each child and is administered in a quiet room to allow the children to concentrate fully. They will be asked to read 40 words aloud. Some will be simple and familiar, some more complex and there will also be a selection of ‘non’ or alien words. These are fake words that are used solely to test the child’s ability to use their phonics knowledge (rather than relying on word recognition) to break down unfamiliar words into recognisable sounds and blend them together to read the word.  Alien words are used during the test because they are new to all the children and therefore, no bias is given to children with a good vocabulary knowledge or visual memory of words.

This use of decoding is an essential skill when learning to read as it gives the children confidence to tackle words they have not encountered before in a systematic and methodical way and greatly reduces the inclination to ‘guess’ what the word might be.

The test should take between 5 – 10 minutes to administer however,  there is no time limit and each child will be supported to work through the words at a pace which is most suitable to their individual needs.


We will inform parents of their child’s results towards the end of the summer term.  Results will be included in your child’s end of year report.

Websites such as have a great selection of interactive games such as Obb and Bob and Dragons Den which focus on real/alien word reading.


Range of phonic games

Range of phonic games

Interactive online phonic books

Mr Thorne does Phonics

Phonics programme that we use ....