Letters and Sounds
Information for Parents - October 2011
Phonics at a glance = Skills of segmentation Knowledge of the
and blending alphabetic code.
Segmenting – breaking up words into their individual sounds so that we can spell a word
Blending - putting individual sounds together so that we can read a word
A phoneme - the smallest unit of sound in a word
A grapheme - the letter or letters that represent the phoneme.
The grapheme could be 1 letter, 2 letters or more! Sometimes
we put sound buttons under the graphemes to make it clearer
at rain high
Saying the phonemes using the shortest possible sound helps children to understand phonics
more quickly – if you want to hear the correct pronunciation speak to your child’s teacher.
You need to be careful not to add an u sound to the end of the other letter sounds.
Phonics consists of :
Identifying sounds in spoken words
Recognising the common spellings of each phoneme.
Blending phonemes into words for reading.
Segmenting words into phonemes for spelling.
Phonics and reading skills are now taught in 6 distinct phases. These phases are set out in the
‘Letters and Sounds’ document.
Phase 1 (Nursery/Pre-school):
Showing an awareness of rhyme and alliteration (words that start with the same sounds)
Distinguishing between sounds in the environment and phonemes
Exploring and experimenting with sounds and words
Beginning to orally blend and segment phonemes
Phase 2 (Reception 6 weeks)
Learning graphemes Using these common consonants and vowels.
Set 1 - s, a, t, p, Blending them to read reading and segmenting
Set 2 - l, n, m, d, them to spell simple 3 phoneme words
Set 3 - g, o, c, k, Understanding that words are constructed
Set 4 - ck, e, u, r, from phonemes and that phonemes are
Set 5 - h, b, f, ff, l, ll, ss, represented by graphemes.
Phase 3 (Reception 12 weeks)
Learning one grapheme for each of the 43 phonemes we have in English
Set 6 - j, v, w, x
Set 7 - y, z, zz, qu Using these graphemes.
Consonant digraphs: ch, sh, th, ng Blending them to read and segmenting them to
Long vowel graphemes: ear, air, ure, spelling simple 3 phoneme (cvc) words
er, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ai, ee, igh, oa, oo Recognising and reading ‘tricky words’
(eg what, my, the, are)
Phase 4 ( Reception/Year 1 up to 6wks )
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 texts.
Reading phonetically decodable two-syllable and
Phase 5 (throughout Year 1)
three-syllable words (eg hop-scotch, computer).
Graphemes: ay, ou, ie, ea, oy,
Using alternative ways of pronouncing and
ir, ue, aw, wh, ph, ew, oe, au,
spelling the graphemes corresponding to the
a-e, e-e, i-e, o-e, u-e
long vowel phonemes.
Alternative graphemes for: i, o, c,
Spelling complex words using phonetically
g, u, ow, ie, ea, er, a, y, ch, ou
Phase 6 (Year 2 throughout)
Recognising phonic irregularities and becoming more secure with less common grapheme –
Applying phonic skills and knowledge to recognise and spell an increasing number of
How it works:
Children have a daily phonics session of around 25 mins.
The children always work within the phase that is appropriate to their level of
They are assessed regularly and groupings are changed accordingly.
Staff rotate around the groups.
Useful web sites
• www.coxhoe.durham.sch.uk/Curriculum/Literacy.htm click on KS1 activities
• www.ictgames.com/literacy.html literacy based games
• http://www.iboard.co.uk/phonics.htm#2__Words_using_sets_1_and_2_GPCs a range
of games from phase 2- 6
• http://www.phonicsplay.co.uk/ParentsMenu.htm Super advice, information and games
to play with your child.