At Stoke Park Primary School we follow the ‘Letters and Sounds’ phases for phonics teaching.   Phonics is just one method of teaching children how to read and write. Other strategies include learning sight words and taking clues from pictures or from the rest of the sentence.  Phonics is all about phonemes which are the sounds that you can hear when you say a word.  These are represented on paper by graphemes which are the written letters or a combination of letters which you read. There are 44 phonemes in the English language.  Some are represented by one letter, like ‘t’, and some by two or more, like ‘ck’ in duck (a digraph) and ‘air’ in chair (a trigraph).

Terminology to be used Explanation Example
Phoneme Phoneme is used for the oral sound we can hear. /ai/
Grapheme The graphic representation i.e. the letter(s) on the page. [ai] [ay] [a-e]
Best Guess The overall and most frequently used grapheme or phoneme. With the  phoneme /oa/ , the grapheme [oa] is used in the middle or start of a word, [ow] is most used at the end of a word but the overall and most frequently used grapheme or the ‘best guess’ is [o-e].
Mischievous Word A word with the target phoneme/grapheme but that does not fit the target patterns. To and two don’t fit the [oo] [ue] [ew] [u-e] graphemes but the phoneme /oo/ is still present in both words.
Sound Buttons Visual and kinaesthetic blending and segmentation method

Kinaesthetic representation:

Stage 1 Pressing imaginary buttons and underlining

Stage 2 Pressing fingers as buttons and drawing arch over them to reblend

Visual representation:

train     cone      cat

Robot Talk Children talk like a robot and swing arms to promote segmentation pass me the c-a-t [using robot voice]
Alien Words Nonsense words for children to apply their phonic knowledge.



Blend To draw individual sounds together to pronounce a word, s-n-a-p, blended together, reads snap
Segment To split up a word into its individual phonemes in order to spell it, The word ‘cat’ has three phonemes: /c/, /a/, /t/
Diagraph Two letters making one phoneme, sh, ch, th, ph
Vowel diagraph Two vowels which, together, make one phoneme. ai, oo, ow
Split diagraph Two letters, split, making one phoneme, a-e as in make or i-e in site
Homograph Homographs are words that are spelled the same but have different meanings (and may or may not have different pronunciations).

tear – a drop of water falling from your eye

tear – a rip in a piece of paper

Homophone A homophone is a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning, and may differ in spelling.

rose (flower) and rose (past tense of “rise”)

to, two, and too.

Helping your child with phonics

Below is a list of ideas to support your child with phonological awareness

To aid memory of letter shapes

  • Trace over the letter shapes of a variety of different textures – sandpaper, foil, fur, carpet, over an ice-block etc.
  • Use different mixtures to write the letter shapes in – cornflour and water paste, shaving gel/foam, sugar, mud etc.
  • Colour bubble writing of the letter shapes in
  • Write the letter shapes on the pavement with chalk or on giant paper with paint
  • Put magnetic letters (or something similar) bag so your child has to feel for the shape of the sound you are asking for
  • Play pairs or snap to aid instant recognition of the letter shapes
  • Play I’m thinking of a letter shape. “It has a round tummy and a stick to one side. It looks like an apple (use Read Write Inc shapes)…”
  • Use playdough to make letter shapes

To aid recognition of the letter sounds

  • Find objects beginning with that sound around the house and whilst out and about
  • Play I spy with my little eye something beginning/ ending/ containing with the sound…
  • Have a sound of the day and see who can be the first between you to find an object with that sound
  • Write the sounds on toys (duplo/footballs/bath toys) so your child sees the sounds through play
  • Write the sounds on plastic fish and go fishing for sounds at bath time
  • Have a selection of sounds in different corners of the room and ask your child to run to the sound corner

Blending for reading

  • Use robot talk when talking to your child “can you pass me the c-a-t?” They could also speak back to you in robot talk.
  • Having tricky words from the text on flashcards and cut them into the sounds they make using wavy lines. They must piece the words back together to complete the jigsaw saying the sounds in order as s/he fixes it back together
  • Use sound buttons when s/he meets a tricky word that can be sounded out (dots below each letter or letters that make a sound)

Segmenting for writing

  • Have words written on paper. They must cut the words into the sound segments
  • When you are saying the words elongate the middle sound
  • Do not worry if all the spelling is correct – the main focus is the sounds s/he hears
  • Say the sentence before writing several times, count the words, discuss where finger spaces are
  • After saying the sentence s/he will write, the adult should draw a line for each word (varying the length of the line according to the length of the word)
  • Use the Read Write Inc flashcards to make words practically
  • Make words out of playdough/ alphabetti spaghetti/ other malleable items
  • Label items around the house on post-its

Rapid word recognition/recall

  • Whack-a-word – have words on flashcards and see who is the first/how quickly s/he can whack the word you say.
  • Have words on flashcards and ask them to jump onto the stepping stone with the word you say
  • Have words scribed on footballs/ toys s/he plays with
  • Pick out the tricky words in a reading book – play matching games, snap, simple word search around the house for hidden words “what words can you find?”

Other useful tools

  • Visit the library to encourage your child to choose a book s/he would like to read about
  • Daily reading at home
  • Spotting signs when out and about – who can find one that says…?
  • Fun places to read – where is the most unusual place you can find to read?
  • Story time where you share books together for enjoyment – talk about books you enjoyed when you were little.
  • Read packets of food (e.g. jokes on penguin wrappers!), texts, emails, child-friendly internet pages etc. to show reading all around us
  • There are many useful iPad resources that can be helpful including Pocket Phonics

Useful websites