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Fun with phonics

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.