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Fun with phonics

Subject knowledge
Phonics and ICT
Key Stage 2

Activities and planning

High Quality phonic work with children involves:

  • Incorporating phonics as part of a broad and rich curriculum.
  • Planning systematically for discrete, daily sessions which ensure progression and differentiation.
  • Accurately assessing children’s progress and using this information to plan from.
  • Using a multi-sensory approach to support all children’s learning.
  • Ensuring that speaking and listening are the foundation for any systematic synthetic phonics work.
  • Teaching blending and segmenting words as reversible processes for reading and writing.

Phase 1

It is recommended that children have the opportunity to take part in systematically planned daily speaking and listening activities, which are well matched to their developing abilities and interests.

Some of the activities will be adult- led, planned, timetabled sessions, for example an activity focused on developing listening skills or, a story or rhyme session with a group of children that has a particular focus.

There will also be child-initiated activities. There should be lots of planned opportunities for children to listen to and to produce different sounds during the day, to explore and apply their developing skills within the learning environment. Practitioners need to be alert for opportunities to encourage the development of speaking and listening skills.

Planning activities

Practitioners should provide planned, daily speaking and listening activities, which are well matched to children’s developing abilities and interests, drawing upon observations and assessments to identify those who need additional support, for example, to discriminate and produce the sounds of speech.

Oral blending and segmenting are an integral part of the later stages of Phase 1. While alliteration (recognising words that begin with the same sound) is important as children develop their ability to tune into speech sounds, blending all through a word should be the main objective.

It is helpful to think of the activities to be provided for children in terms of the seven aspects and three strands as described in Letters and Sounds.

Phase 1 activities are arranged under seven aspects:

  • General Sound Discrimination: Environmental Sounds,
  • General Sound Discrimination: Instrumental Sounds
  • General Sound Discrimination: Body Percussion
  • Rhythm and Rhyme
  • Alliteration
  • Voice sounds
  • Oral blending and segmenting

While there is considerable overlap between these aspects, the overarching aim is to ensure that children experience regular, planned opportunities to listen carefully and to talk extensively about what they hear, see and can do.

The boundaries between each strand are flexible and not fixed: practitioners should plan to integrate the activities according to the developing abilities and interests of the children in the setting. Aspects 1 to 6 run concurrently. Aspect 7 usually comes just before children move into the Reception class. The activities should be well planned and also active, enjoyable and stimulating for the children. They can take place indoors or outdoors and ideally involve small groups of children.

Developing speaking and listening skills through stories, using alliteration, rhythm and rhyme and using instrumental sounds are not new. In an effective setting much of this will already be happening. However it may be that activities are not systematically planned and that children are not given enough opportunities to explore and apply their developing skills within the learning environment.

Letters and Sounds activities come under the main CLLD part of weekly planning.

The 3 core skills:

  • Blending
  • Segmenting
  • Handwriting

There are lots of useful resources available on the Oxford University Press website.

Phonics – Getting the best results

Useful website links and further reading

Rose, J. (2006) The Independent Review of the Teaching of Early Reading [Online]

University of Cumbria (2012) Resources to support the teaching of reading on KS1/2

Waugh, D. and Jolliffe, W. (2012) Teaching Systematic Synthetic Phonics in Primary Schools.

Featherstone, S. (2007) Little Book of Games with Sounds. London: Featherstone, A+C Black.

Featherstone, S, Persse, L. (2001) The Little Book of Phonics. London: Featherstone, A+C Black.

Featherstone, S. (2006) L is for Sheep. London: Featherstone, A+C Black.McGregor, H. Sanderson, A. & Bailey, P. (2005) Bingo Lingo. London: A&C Black.

In lessons there are lots of ways that ICT can support teaching of phonics. Take flashcards as an example. It’s really easy to create digital versions of flashcards which can be added to a presentation or loaded at random. The timing of their appearance on screen is easily adapted to ensure that pace is appropriate to the learning needs of a class. This could be supplemented with virtual displays of the common sounds with pupils being encouraged to add words which use these sounds to an online word bank. This takes minimal ICT skills and can be done quickly through using sites such as Wall Wisher, or more securely in a forum on your VLE.

Word building games are fairly easy to make using ICT. Drag and Drop technology is widely available online now and these can be used to provide pupils with lots of letter strings, with the task of creating as many full words as possible from the sounds that are made available. This can be used as a whole class exercise on an Interactive Whiteboard or posted on the class webpage for use as a homework task.

Another way of using ICT to support the teaching of phonics is the use of songs to develop pupils awareness of the different sounds. There are lots of songs available online that are written for the purpose of teaching phonics, and there’s nothing to stop pupils creating their own songs or tongue twisters to demonstrate their growing awareness of different sounds.

Useful resources for Phonics and ICT

ICT Games - A range of games to reinforce phonic knowledge and give children opportunities to apply their knowledge

Crickweb - A range of resources including photographic images of apples, fruit etc

CBeebies - Songs and rhymes, which can be used for Phase 1 of Letters and Sounds

Some children in key stage 2 maybe experiencing difficulties in their reading and or writing because they have missed or misunderstood a crucial phase in their systematic synthetic phonics teaching.

In their day today learning some children may:

  • experience difficulties with blending for reading and segmenting for spelling
  • show confusion with certain graphemes and related phonemes
  • have difficulty segmenting longer words containing adjacent consonants
  • demonstrate a general insecurity with long vowel phonemes.


Systematic daily phonics teaching is a key element of the CLLD approach to the teaching of early literacy. Teachers need to feel confident about assessing children’s command of phonic skills and knowledge if they are to plan effectively to meet all children’s needs and to support them in becoming fluent, independent readers and writers. By ensuring that teaching is adapted to support all children, teachers can be sure that all children make good progress and that vulnerable children are identified early and provided with support to enable them to catch up before the gap between them and their peers widens.