At Hunnyhill, we believe that reading and writing skills form the foundations for much of the learning we do throughout the school.
In EYFS and KS1, the children follow the Letters & Sounds Phonics program, which teaches them to recognise sounds and to blend them together in order to read new words. Through using their 'Fred fingers' children are also taught to segment (break up) the words into sounds when they are trying to spell.
We also teach some tricky words, known as Common Exception Words like 'they' and 'were', which cannot be broken up into individual sounds and so through their English Lessons and in Letters & Sounds, children are gradually introduced to these words and given regular chances to practise reading them.
Letters and Sounds is taught every day in Reception and Year 1, and where appropriate, in year 2.
The aim is to increase children's confidence and enjoyment in reading, inspiring them to continue to practise reading outside of our Letters & Sounds sessions. In addition, children are given carefully matched reading books that provide them with opportunities to practise reading any new sounds in context.
The Letters and Sounds programme is divided into six phases, with each phase building on the skills and knowledge of previous learning. There are no big leaps in learning. Children have time to practise and rapidly expand their ability to read and spell words.
Please find below, details of what is taught in each phase of Letters & Sounds and how you could help at home.
This paves the way for systematic learning of phonics. Teachers plan activities that will help children to listen attentively to sounds around them, such as the sounds of their toys and to sounds in spoken language. Teachers teach a wide range of nursery rhymes and songs. They read good books to and with the children. This helps to increase the number of words they know – their vocabulary – and helps them talk confidently about books.
Ways you can support your children at home
Play ‘What do we have in here?’ Put some toys or objects in a bag and pull one out at a time. Emphasise the first sound of the name of the toy or object by repeating it, for example, ‘c c c c – car’, ‘b b b b – box’, ‘ch ch ch ch – chip’.
Say: ‘A tall tin of tomatoes!’ ‘Tommy, the ticklish teddy!’ ‘A lovely little lemon!’ This is called alliteration. Use names, for example, ‘Gurpreet gets the giggles’, ‘Milo makes music’, ‘Naheema’s nose’.
Teach them ‘Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers’.
Learning how to ‘sound-talk’
The teacher shows children how to do this – c-a-t = cat. The separate sounds (phonemes) are spoken aloud, in order, all through the word, and are then merged together into the whole word. The merging together is called blending and is a vital skill for reading.
Children will also learn to do this the other way around – cat = c-a-t. The whole word is spoken aloud and then broken up into its sounds (phonemes) in order, all through the word. This is called segmenting and is a vital skill for spelling.
This is all oral (spoken). Your child will not be expected to match the letter to the sound at this stage. The emphasis is on helping children to hear the separate sounds in words and to create spoken sounds.
Ways you can support your children at home
Find real objects around your home that have three phonemes (sounds) and practise ‘sound talk’.
First, just let them listen, then see if they will join in, for example, saying:
‘I spy a p-e-g – peg.’
‘I spy a c-u-p – cup.’
‘Where’s your other s-o-ck – sock?’
‘Simon says – put your hands on your h-ea-d.’ ‘
Simon says – touch your ch-i-n.’
In this phase children will continue practising what they have learned from phase 1, including ‘sound-talk’. They will also be taught the phonemes (sounds) for a number of letters (graphemes), which phoneme is represented by which grapheme and that a phoneme can be represented by more than one letter, for example, /ll/ as in b-e-ll.
VC and CVC words
C and V are abbreviations for ‘consonant’ and ‘vowel’. VC words are words consisting of a vowel then a consonant (e.g. am, at, it) and CVC words are words consisting of a consonant then a vowel then a consonant (e.g. cat, rug, sun). Words such as tick and bell also count as CVC words – although they have four letters, they have only three sounds. For example, in the word bell, b = consonant, e = vowel, ll = consonant.
Now the children will be seeing letters and words, as well as hearing them. They will be shown how to make whole words by pushing magnetic letters together to form words, reading words on the interactive whiteboard and breaking up words into individual sounds, which will help their spelling. These will be simple words made up of two phonemes, for example, am, at, it, or three phonemes, for example, cat, rug, sun, tick, bell.
They will also learn several tricky words: the, to, I, go, no. Children will still be practising oral blending and segmenting skills daily. They need plenty of practice at doing this.
Saying the sounds
Your child will be taught how to pronounce the sounds (phonemes) correctly to make blending easier. Sounds should be sustained where possible (e.g. sss, fff, mmm) and, where this is not possible, ‘uh’ sounds after consonants should be reduced as far as possible (e.g. try to avoid saying ‘buh’, ‘cuh’). Teachers help children to look at different letters and say the right sounds for them.
Ways you can support your children at home
Buy magnetic letters for your fridge, or for use with a tin tray. Have fun finding letters with your child and place them on the magnetic surface.
Making little words together
Make little words together, for example, it, up, am, and, top, dig, run, met, pick. As you select the letters, say them aloud: ‘a-m – am’, ‘m-e-t – met’.
Breaking words up
Now do it the other way around: read the word, break the word up and move the letters away, saying: ‘met – m-e-t’.
Both these activities help children to see that reading and spelling are reversible processes.
Don’t forget the writing box!
Spelling is harder than reading words – praise, don’t criticise. Little whiteboards and pens, and magic boards, are a good way for children to try out spellings and practise their handwriting.
Your child might be trying to use letters from their name to write; this shows that they know that writing needs real alphabet letters.
Getting ready for writing
At Hunnyhill School we will model how to form letters (graphemes) correctly, so that children can eventually acquire a fluent and legible handwriting style. These skills develop over a long period of time. A child’s ability to form a letter correctly is a separate skill from phonics. Holding a pen or pencil needs considerable co-ordination and practice in making small movements with hands and fingers.
In the early phonic phases children can use letter cards or magnetic letters to demonstrate their knowledge of phonics.
Writing in lower-case letters
We shall be teaching lower-case letters, as well as capital letters. As most writing will be in lowercase letters it is useful if you can use these at home. A good start is for your child to write their name correctly, starting with a capital letter followed by lower-case letters.
Ways you can support your children at home
Using their whole body
For handwriting children need to be well co-ordinated through their whole body, not just their hands and fingers. Games that help co-ordination include throwing balls at a target, under-arm and overarm, and bouncing balls – also skipping on the spot, throwing a Frisbee, picking up pebbles from the beach and throwing them into the sea. Have fun!
Hand and finger play
Action rhymes such as ‘Incy wincy spider’, ‘One potato, two potato’ and ‘Tommy Thumb’ are great fun and get their hands and fingers moving. Playing with salt dough or clay really helps strengthen little fingers, as does cookery and using simple toolkits.
Pouring water into jugs and cups of different sizes, sweeping up with a dustpan and brush, cutting, sticking, tracing, threading beads, completing puzzles, peeling off stickers and sticking them in the right place – these all help hand–eye co-ordination.
The ‘pincer’ movement needs to be practised. This is important as it enables children to hold a pencil properly as they write. Provide them with kitchen tongs and see if they can pick up small objects. Move on to challenging them to pick up smaller things, for example, little cubes, sugar lumps, dried peas, lentils, first with chopsticks, then with tweezers.
Ask children to peg objects to a washing line.
Provide plenty or different types of pen and pencil; hold their hand to practise the correct grip
The purpose of this phase is to:
teach more graphemes, most of which are made of two letters, for example, ‘oa’ as in boat
practise blending and segmenting a wider set of CVC words, for example, fizz, chip, sheep, light
learn all letter names and begin to form them correctly
read more tricky words and begin to spell some of them
read and write words in phrases and sentences.
CVC words containing graphemes made of two or more letters
Here are some examples of words your children will be reading: tail, week, right, soap, food, park, burn, cord, town, soil.
Their confidence from the daily experience of practising and applying their phonic knowledge to reading and writing is really paying off!
The number of tricky words is growing. These are so important for reading and spelling: he, she, we, me, be, was, my, you, her, they, all.
Sing an alphabet song together.
Play ‘I spy’, using letter names as well as sounds.
Continue to play with magnetic letters, using some of the two grapheme (letter) combinations:
r-ai-n = rain blending for reading
rain = r-ai-n – segmenting for spelling
b-oa-t = boat blending for reading
boat = b-oa-t – segmenting for spelling
h-ur-t = hurt blending for reading
hurt = h-ur-t – segmenting for spelling
Praise your child for trying out words.
Set a timer. Call out one word at a time and get your child to spell it on a magic board or a small whiteboard, against the timer – remember, they can use magnetic letters.
Play ‘Pairs’, turning over two words at a time trying to find a matching pair. This is especially helpful with the tricky words: the the, to to, no no, go go, I I
Don’t worry if they get some wrong! These are hard to remember – they need plenty of practice.
Children continue to practise previously learned graphemes and phonemes and learn how to read and write:
CVCC words: tent, damp, toast, chimp
For example, in the word ‘toast’, t = consonant, oa = vowel, s = consonant, t = consonant. and CCVC words: swim, plum, sport, cream, spoon For example, in the word ‘cream’, c = consonant, r = consonant, ea = vowel, m = consonant. They will be learning more tricky words and continuing to read and write sentences together. Tricky words said, so, do, have, like, some, come, were, there, little, one, when, out, what
Ways to support your child at home:
Practise reading and spelling some CVCC and CCVC words but continue to play around with CVC words. Children like reading and spelling words that they have previously worked with, as this makes them feel successful.
Make up captions and phrases for your child to read and write, for example, a silver star, clear the pond, crunch crisps. Write some simple sentences and leave them around the house for your child to find and read. After they have found and read three, give them a treat!
Look out for words in the environment, such as on food packaging, which your child will find easy to read, for example, lunch, fresh milk, drink, fish and chips, jam.
Work on reading words together, for example, a street name such as Park Road, captions on buses and lorries, street signs such as bus stop.
Ways to support your child at home: Reading at home
Teach lots of nursery rhymes – each one tells a different story.
Enjoy and share books together – buy or borrow books that will fire their imagination and interest. Read and reread those they love best.
Make time to read with your child throughout their time in school – PLEASE continue reading to your child, even when they are reading independently. This is very important – your child needs to practise their reading skills every day, and needs the support of an interested adult. Grandparents, older brothers or sisters can help, too.
Let them see you reading – grown-ups can share their magazines about their favourite sport or hobby.
Read with your child – ask your child to attempt unknown words, using their phonic skills and knowledge. Make sure they blend all through the word.
Talk about the meaning of the book, too – take time to talk about what is happening in the book, or things that they found really interesting in an information book. Discuss the characters and important events. Ask them their views. Provide toys, puppets and dressing-up clothes that will help them to act out stories.
Explain the meaning of words (vocabulary) that your child can read but may not understand, for example, flapped, roared.
Listen to story tapes.
Teach your child some action rhymes – ‘Heads, shoulders, knees and toes’, ’Here we go round the mulberry bush’, ‘We all clap hands together'. Use tapes and CD-ROMs of nursery rhymes to sing along to.
Read simple rhyming books together – leave out a rhyming word now and then, and see if your child can work out the missing word. If not, you say it.
Borrow or buy the best books you can to share with your child. Libraries and bookshops can advise you of the most popular books.
Add sound effects when reading a story and encourage your child to join in.
A quiet area with some cushions and toys is a comfortable place where you and your child can go to look at a book together.
Ways to support your child at home: Writing Together
Magic writing boards are great fun for children, both little and larger versions. It won’t be long
before they will be trying to write their names!
Write with your child – ‘think aloud’ so they can hear the decisions you are making as you write.
Make sure the writing is for a purpose, for example, a birthday message, a shopping list, an address.
Talk about the words they see in everyday life – food packaging, signs in the supermarkets, captions
on buses and lorries, messages on birthday cards and invitations.
Write a shopping list together.
Send an email to a family member or a friend – your child says the message, you write it!
Provide your child with a shoe box full of things to write with – writing tools of various sizes and
thicknesses: gel pens, crayons, glitter pens, rainbow pencils, old birthday cards, coloured paper,
sticky tape to make little books. Rolls of wallpaper can be attached to a table or wall to provide a
large canvas for their writing and drawing.
Praise them for their play writing – those early squiggles and marks show that your child is
beginning to understand writing.
Ways to support your child at home: what to do if your child is reluctant to read or
write at home
Make sure your child sees you reading.
Read to your child. Show you like the book. Bring stories to life by using loud/soft/scary voices –let yourself go!
Spread books around your house for your child to dip into.
Let your child choose what they would like to read – books, comics, catalogues.
Read favourite books over and over again. Enjoy!
Make sure your child sees you writing.
Compose an email together, inviting a friend over to tea.
Continue to make words together, using magnetic letters.
Leave a message on the fridge door and encourage them to write a reply to you.
Make up a story together about one of their toys. You write for them, repeating the sentences as you write. When the story is complete they can draw pictures to go with it.
Buy stickers of a favourite film or TV programme and make a book about it. will be trying to write their names!
In Phase 2, letters and their sounds are introduced one at a time. A set of letters is taught each week, in the following sequence:
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
By the time they reach Phase 3, children will already be able to blend and segment words containing the 19 letters taught in Phase 2.
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
During Phase 3, the following tricky words (which can't yet be decoded) are introduced:
In Phase 4, no new graphemes are introduced. The main aim of this phase is to consolidate the children's knowledge and to help them learn to read and spell words which have adjacent consonants, such as trap, string and milk.
During Phase 4, the following tricky words (which can't yet be decoded) are introduced:
With practice, speed at recognising and blending graphemes will improve. Word and spelling knowledge will be worked on extensively.
In Phase Five, children will learn more graphemes and phonemes. For example, they already know ai as in rain, but now they will be introduced to ay as in day and a-e as in make.
Alternative pronunciations for graphemes will also be introduced, e.g. ea in tea, head and break.
During Phase 5, the following tricky words (which can't yet be decoded) are introduced: