Epsom Downs Primary School & Childrens Centre

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Phonics

What is synthetic phonics?

Phonics is a method of teaching children how spoken words are composed of sounds called phonemes and how the letters in words correspond to those phonemes. The process of reading involves decoding or ‘breaking’ words into separate phonemes. English is essentially a code that can be encoded (written) and decoded (read). We need to teach children this code with as much emphasis as possible on the rules and regularities of the written language.

Children are taught that we can make a word from the sounds and then break it a part again when we want to spell it. Spelling and reading are taught together but a child may be better at reading before spelling or vice versa.

Written English is recognised as being a complex language. We have 26 letters but 44 phonemes in the spoken language. There are a huge number of letter combinations needed to make these 44 phonemes (a phoneme is the technical name for the smallest unit of sound).

 Letters and Sounds

Letters and Sounds is a government produced synthetic phonic teaching programme of 6 phases. Throughout the six phases children will be taught the 44 phonemes.

 During daily phonic lessons children are introduced to all 44 phonemes and corresponding graphemes starting with the most familiar grapheme for each phoneme first. It is important to remember that there are alternative spellings to the graphemes.

 Synthetic phonics starts with ‘phonemic awareness” which is hearing the different sounds in a word and the matching of these phonemes to single letters. At the same time it shows how these phonemes (sounds) can be 'blended' to produce words and the words can be ‘segmented’ to write. Your child will learn simple letter to sound correspondence. This is when a phoneme is represented by a single letter as in the word /c/ /a/ /t/. When that’s mastered your child will learn that sometimes one phoneme is represented by two letters (digraph); as in the word /ch/ /o/ /p/ ; where /ch/ is only one phoneme (sound).

Then after that, even though at first it may sound confusing, your child will learn that sometimes a single phoneme can be represented many different ways. Like the sound /ay/ in play or /ai/ in maid.

 Finally your child will learn that sometimes a single letter may represent more than one phoneme; for example, the ‘o’ in /most/ and the ‘o’ in /hot/ or the ‘ow’ in /wow/ and the ‘ow’ in /tow/.

 What do all these technical words mean?

 What is a phoneme?

It is the smallest unit of sound and a piece of terminology that children like to use and should be taught. At first it will equate with a letter sound but later on will include the digraphs.

 What is a digraph?

This is when two letters come together to make a phoneme. /oa/ makes the sound in boat.

 What is a trigraph?

This is when three letters come together to make a phoneme. /igh/ makes the sound in light.

 What is blending?

Blending is the process that is involved in bringing the sounds together to make a word or a syllable and is how /c/ /a/ /t / becomes cat.

 What is a consonant blend?

Previously, consonant blends were taught as if there was something special about them. Children were taught that /st/ was one phoneme, when actually it is two, /s/ and /t/. Think about it. Why teach /st/ when children already know /s/ and /t/, it just wastes time and clogs up children’s memory. But note that sh is a diagraph. It cannot be made by a process of blending the two letter sounds of /s/ and /h/ together.

We need to teach the digraphs not the blends.

 Please practise phonics regularly at home - here are some useful websites to help:

  www.letters-and-sounds.com

 www.nessy.com

 www.online.espresso.co.uk/espresso/login/Authn/UserPassword

 www.phonicsplay.co.uk/freeIndex.htm

 www.phonicsbloom.com/

www.gov.uk/government/publications/phonics-screening-check-2017-materials

 Also a link to the Jolly phonic songs

 www.dailymotion.com/video/x2wpdvv

 www.epicphonics.com/

  www.phonicsbloom.com/uk/game/list/phonics-games-phase-2

 www.ictgames.com/mobilePage/literacy.html

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IwJx1NSineE

 

In Reception the children share books and listen to stories as they learn that reading is a worthwhile and rewarding time. It should be fun and successful and children will naturally begin to use their phonic knowledge even in their first few weeks as we begin teaching the phonemes straight away. When reading always encourage your child to talk about the pictures, point out phonemes and words that they recognize and DO keep it relaxed and fun. If your child struggles do help them so that they maintain the story line and do talk about the story as you read along and after you finish so that your child understands what they have been reading.

 

Games to play at home

These games will help your child to develop their reading and language skills

 1. Memory games like Kim’s Game- look at a tray of objects, remove the tray and try to recall what was on the tray. Or take away one item and try to guess what that item might be.

 2. Play I Spy

 3. Rhyming games: ‘My word rhymes with…..’

 4. I went on holiday and took ‘apples’. Continue the game using the rest of the alphabet.

 5. Clap the syllables in words

 6. Talk about words and look for words within words.

 7. See how many ‘b’s you can find on a page

 8. Make anagrams of words

 9. When driving in the car look at other car’s registration plates and find the letters of the alphabet.

 10. Ask your child to write the shopping list!

 

 Throughout Key Stage 1 the children learn the different ways to encode (write) and decode (read).

 Letters and Sounds

Phase 1 (Nursery/ Reception)

The aim of this phase is to foster children’s speaking and listening skills as preparation for learning to read with phonics. Talking about what the children can hear, see and do helps develop this skill.

 

Phase 2-4 (Reception/ Year 1)

This is when high quality direct phonic teaching begins. During phase two to four, children learn:

How to represent each of the 42 sounds by letter or sequence of letters.

How to blend sounds together for reading and how to segment (split) words for spelling and writing.

Letter names are taught to support the phonological teaching (singing the alphabet song).

The Letters and Sounds Programme suggests an order for teaching the letters and sets a pace of one set of letters every week progressing from the simple to the complex at a suitable rate for most children.

The first set of phonemes the children learn are:

 s a t p i n

These can immediately be used to make words like sat, pin, pat, tap, nap

 1. s a t p

2. i n m d

3. g o c k

4. ck e u r

5. h b f, ff l, ll ss

6. j v w x

7. y z,zz qu

 

Phase 3 phoneme graphemes

ch sh th ng ai ee igh oa oo ar or ur ow oi ear air ure er

 

We also follow No Nonsense Spelling:

 

These charts show the phonemes of English represented by the International Phonetic Alphabet together with their common grapheme representations. All Phase 5 GPCs are included together with other less common grapheme choices needed in Year 2 and above. The correspondences in the table are based on Received Pronunciation and could be significantly different in other ac- cents. One example word is provided for each phoneme to support teachers unfamiliar with IPA. Other examples can be found in

Appendix 1 of the National Currciulum.

 

 

 Comprehension Skills

It is vital that your child learns to read and having a good knowledge of phonics will help them to become proficient readers. They also need to understand the meaning and be able to discuss events, choices, characters and settings. You can help by asking your child a range of questions.

 On the line questions:

Questions where your child can find the answer in the text.

E.g. Who stole the bag?

What did….. How does….., Who did…..,Where was….., When did……,

 Between the line questions:

Questions which have a ‘right’ answer but use clues from the text. It can be followed by how do you know?

e.g. I wonder who could have given her the present? I wonder how…., I wonder why….., I wonder whether….., How do you know……?

 Beyond the line questions:

Questions which have many right answers because they need the children to give their views or interpretation of the author’s intent.

e.g. How do you think her brother felt? What makes you think that?, If it were you what would you do…?, What do you think will happen if…..?, What would it be like…..? I wonder if he had the same idea in his mind? (alternative view) Do you remember when….?

 

   Spelling Strategies

  Terminology Sheet

 Rainbow Readers

 Rocket Readers

 Phonics Check Power Point