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Phonics Information Area

Letters and Sounds is the programme we use at Holy Cross to support the systematic teaching of phonics. Children begin the Letters and Sounds programme at the start of Reception year and continue across Key Stage 1 (Years 1 and 2). Our phonics programme is separated into six phases – your child’s teacher will be able to tell you which phase your child is currently working on. On this page you will be able to find links to information and resources from an external websites for each phase.

There is a brief explanation of what is taught and a selection of resources (word cards, games & record sheets) which you can use to support your child’s learning at home. If you require any further support, please come into school and speak with your child’s class teacher or our Phonics Lead, Mrs McDowall.

Curriculum Area

Curriculum Area

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Phonemes are the smallest unit of sounds which make up a word. For example, the word ‘cat’ contains three phonemes; c – a – t. The word fish also contains three phonemes; f-i-sh.

A digraph is a sound that is represented by two letters, e.g. the sound ‘a’ in rain is represented by the digraph ‘ai’ (two letters, one sound).

A trigraph is a sound that is represented by three letters. For example, the sound ‘i’ in light is represented by the trigraph ‘igh’. (Three letters, one sound).

A grapheme is a visual representation of a sound, i.e. a letter or a group of letters. Some sounds are represented by a single letter whilst others are represented by more than one letter.

Blending is the skill of joining sounds (phonemes) together to read words (sounding out). Children are taught to say the separate phonemes in a word and to then blend them together to read the word.

Segmenting is the opposite of blending. Children are taught to segment a word into its separate sounds (phonemes) in order to spell it, breaking down the words into their separate sounds (phonemes).

A split digraph is a digraph that is separated by other letters, i.e. the sound ‘a’ in the word take is represented by the split digraph a-e. The ‘a’ sound in ‘a-e’ is changed from the short vowel to the long vowel and the ‘e’ is silent.

Phase 2 Introduction

In Phase 2, pupils are introduced to letters (and the corresponding sounds) for the first time. Pupils are taught 19 letters grouped into 5 sets:

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

Children are taught to begin ‘blending’ sounds into words straight away. Using set 1, making and reading words like ‘at, it, sit, sat & pat’. Alien words (Nonsense words) such as ’tis’ are also acceptable at this point, as they allow children to explore the sounds freely. However in time, the children will be shown the correct spelling.

As children learn all the Sets in Phase 2, they will be able to read an increasing number of words. The ‘Reading Word List’, found in the resources section, sets out the range of words which can be read once each additional Set has been taught.

Within phase 2 Tricky words begin to be taught beginning with ‘The, to, I, no, go’ Tricky words (Common Exception Words) are words that are not fully decodable at this stage, and will need to be recognised by their pattern.

Phase 3 Introduction

In Phase 3, pupils continue to use all the sounds they were taught in Phase 2. In addition, they are taught The information and resources in this section are designed to support you in helping your child at home – please feel free to speak with your child’s class teacher if you require any additional information or support. By the time children reach Phase 3, they should already be able to blend and segment words containing the 19 letters taught in Phase 2. The children then build on this learning with the following sounds:

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

Once Sets 6 & 7 have been taught children learn about digraphs, where more than one letter represents one sound e.g. the digraph ‘ai’ represents one sound in the word ‘rain’. Children learn that a digraph is two letters which make one sound. They also begin to learn the terminology of grapheme. A grapheme is the representation of the phoneme – what the sound looks like. Tricky words linked to Phase 3:

He, she, we, me, be, was, you, they, all, are, my, her.

Phase 4 Introduction

There are no new phonemes taught in Phase 4. Instead, they are taught to further manipulate the phonemes and graphemes they have already learnt. Many of the words children explored in Phase 2 and 3 were monosyllabic (words of one syllable). Many of the words also require children to blend approximately three or four sounds together in order to read them. In Phase 4 children explore more polysyllabic words (words containing more than one syllable) and require children to blend an increasing number of sounds together in order to read. In Phase 4, words are often reffered to in relation to how many vowels and consonants they contain. For example:

CVC Words (consonant/vowel/consonant) i.e. can, hat, cod

CCVC Words (consonant/consonant/vowel/consonant) i.e. trip, flip and crab

CVCC Words (consonant/vowel/consonant/consonant) i.e. help, first and mend

As children progres through Phase 4 they becmoe more confident and skilled in reading and spelling words with a greater number of letters and graphemes. Tricky words linked to Phase 4 include:

Said, have, like, so do, some, come, were, there, little, one, when, out, what.

Phase 5 Introduction

New graphemes are introduced to children in Phase 5. Some of these graphemes represent phonemes (sounds) that the children have already learnt. For example, in Phase 3 children were taught ‘ai’ as the grapheme for the phoneme /a/ (as in rain). In Phase 5, children are taught that the phoneme /a/ can also be represented by the graphemes ‘ay‘ (as in play) or ‘a-e’ (as in make) ‘a (as in apron) ‘ey (as in they), ‘eigh (as in eight).

Alternative pronunciations for graphemes will also be introduced, for example. ‘ea is pronounced alternatively as in tea, head and break. Tricky words linked to Phase 5 include:

Oh, their, people, Mr, Mrs, looked, called, asked, could.

Phase 6 Introduction

For Phase 6, in the Autumn term children will recap and revise previous sounds taught. Teachers use a systematic approach in the spring and summer terms, where children will be using their previous and newly learnt phonic knowledge to learn rules to support and develop spelling and reading skills.