Phonics – phase 1

This paves the way for systematic learning of phonics and usually starts in nursery or playgroup.

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, ‘Gail gets the giggles’, ‘Milo makes music’, ‘Neil’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.’

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