What is phonics?
Phonics is a method of teaching children to read by linking sounds (phonemes) and the symbols that represent them (graphemes, or letters) to form words.
Phonics teaches children to be able to listen carefully and identify the phonemes (individual sounds) that make up each word. This helps children to learn to read words and later to spell words.
There are 6 different ‘phases’ of learning phonics, ranging from Phase 1: listening to sounds to phase 6 which teaches more complicated reading and spelling skills such adding prefix and suffixes. At nursery level we focus on Phase 1 & Phase 2 phonics.
In Phase 1 phonics children focus on developing their listening and speaking skills so that when the time comes to introduce phonemes (letter sounds) children are able to listen closely and decipher between the different (often similar) sounds. Basically, it helps them to tune into sounds.
When planning for Phase 1 phonics we follow the order of DfE’s Letters and Sounds document. This breaks the listening activities into 7 different aspects, getting progressively harder as the children’s listening skills develop. These are all taught through fun, engaging games and activities.
- Environmental Sound Discrimination
- Such as sound walks around the nursery, drumming on different materials around the garden, describe and find it games.
- Instrumental Sound Discrimination
- For example deciphering between musical instruments, adding new words to old songs or adjusting volume when playing the instruments.
- Body Percussion Sound Discrimination
- We explore different ways to make sounds with our bodies.
(These roughly equate to 22-36m EYFS Listening & Attention)
- Rhythm and Rhyme.
- Voice Sounds
(These correspond to the 30-50m EYFS Reading statements)
- Oral Blending and Segmenting
Blending: This is when children say the sounds that make up a word and are able to merge the sounds together until they can hear what the word is. This skill is vital in learning to read.
Segmenting: Like blending but in reverse. Children are given the word and taught to identify the individual sounds within it in order to sound out/ spell the word.
(These equate to 30-50s- 40-6b EYFS Reading)
In Spring 1 we began to introduce Phase 2 phonics. Phase 2 phonics refers to the introduction of letters and the corresponding sounds.
How do we introduce the letters?
We use the following basic structure to introduce a new letter and then incorporate different interactive phonics games in following group times to consolidate their learning (such as a letter hunt around the garden, collecting items beginning with that letter in a basket etc). We make sure that children are up and involved in the learning as opposed to sitting and listening.
How do we challenge the confident learners?
When we have introduced a good number of letters we introduce the letters into blending/ segmenting games for all children and children that are able are encouraged to ead
CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) words. The children who are confident also take part in a phonics intervention group once a week.
During this group we play focused games with ‘Joshua Puppet’. Joshua is our phonics puppet who can only speak through individual sounds. The children love to sound out their words and blend in order to tell Joshua what word they have formed. The focus of this group is to demonstrate how their knowledge of letters can be used to spell and read words.
Where do they need to be before the end of year?
By the end of the year we aim for the children to be at 30-50s - 40-60b at the EYFS reading statements.
Our main aim is to make sure all children are confident in all phase 1 aspects of the letters and sounds documents.
However, having that knowledge and understanding of letters- and an understanding of how to use them allows children to push beyond 40-60b and will help them drastically in Reception.
Please find a PowerPoint presentation along with some leaflets about phonics.