Daily phonics sessions provide a very structured approach, children are taught in smaller groups and progress is assessed regularly.
At Puss Bank School we use the Letters and Sounds programme to teach phonics in Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1. In Reception Jolly Phonics is also used to introduce the letter sounds. Children are taught to recognise the sounds and blend them together into words for meaning. All children are taught one way of representing the 44 main sounds of English first, then go on to learn the alternative spellings later on.
In Phase 2, letters and their sounds are introduced one at a time. A set of letters is taught each week, in the following sequence:
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
During Phase 3 twenty-five new graphemes are introduced.
Set 6: j, v, w, x
Set 7: y, z, zz, qu
Consonant digraphs: ch, sh, th, ng
Vowel digraphs: ai, ee, igh, oa, oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, ure, er
The following tricky words (which can't yet be decoded) are introduced:
he, she, we, me, be, was, you, they, all, are, my, her
Children will already be able to read and spell words with adjacent consonants, such as ‘trap’, ‘string’ and ‘flask’. They will also be able to read and spell some polysyllabic words.
In Phase Five, children will learn more graphemes and phonemes. For example, they already know ‘ai’ as in ‘rain’, but now they will be introduced to ‘ay’ as in ‘day’ and ‘a-e’ as in ‘make’.
Alternative pronunciations for graphemes will also be introduced, e.g. ea in tea, head and break.
During Phase 5, the following tricky words (which can't yet be decoded) are introduced:
oh, their, people, Mr, Mrs, looked, called, asked, could
When teaching the letter sounds, it is important to remember to keep them very ‘pure’ and distinct, to help with sound blending later on. Watch the Phoneme Pronunciation Guide DVD to hear the correct way to say each sound.
In Puss Bank School all children encounter a wide range of reading learning opportunities in to ensure that fundamental skills are securely in place.
Whole class teaching takes place and texts are often used as a stimulus for further English based activities. In Guided Reading sessions, pupils work in small, adult led groups to explore texts, building particularly on comprehension and early inference skills. In KS1 pupils also have the opportunity to explore and respond to text through follow up tasks and activities.
Pupils read regularly on a 1:1 basis to ensure both accuracy and understanding. Whilst this may be with a teacher or teaching assistant, we are fortunate in that we are supported by a committed team of volunteers comprising of parents and grandparents. Children are encouraged to read at home and generally take four books home every week, following a reading scheme (colour banded books). Children also enjoy listening to a class book at story time.
As pupils progress through into Key Stage 2 the emphasis switches from decoding skills to developing comprehension and inference skills.
In addition to whole class teaching, Guided Reading sessions continue throughout KS2. These sessions enable children to develop the high levels of inference and understanding needed for future learning. Pupils continue to have the opportunity to explore and respond to text through follow up tasks and activities. There remains an expectation for children to read at home on a regular basis.
Throughout school, reading resources are regularly reviewed and updated and we frequently borrow a wide selection of books from the Cheshire School Library service. Each year in March we celebrate World Book Day, by enjoying different reading themed activities. We also host a yearly book fair which is really popular and well supported.
There are many technical terms which are used in phonics. Here is an explanation of the most commonly used phonics words.
A consonant-vowel-consonant word, such as cat, pin or top. You may also come across the abbreviation CCVC for consonant-consonant-vowel-consonant words such as clap and from. Also CVCC for words such as mask and belt.
Phonemes are the smallest unit of speech-sounds which make up a word. If you change a phoneme in a word, you would change its meaning. For example, there are three phonemes in the word sit /s/-/i/-/t/. If you change the phoneme /s/ for /f/, you have a new word, fit. If you change the phoneme /t/ in fit for a /sh/, you have a new word, fish - /f/-/i/-/sh/.
Graphemes are the written representation of sounds.