Check out the Best Letters And Sounds Phonics Games for teaching beginning sounds to young children. Fun, engaging teaching ideas and printable resources ideal for learning letters and sounds following the SATPIN letters and sounds order.
Learning to tell the difference between sounds is a key Early Years literacy skill and the first step in learning to read and write. National reports on the teaching of reading in the US, UK and Australia support the inclusion of phonological awareness in early literacy programs. Hill (2016, p.110) notes the importance of phonological awareness as ‘a precursor to decoding’ which needs to be explicitly taught (Adams, 2011).
Letters and Sounds is a phonics resource published by the Department for Education and Skills in 2007 to help teachers explicitly teach phonics. The program will prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills.
Letters and Sounds Planning Phases
The DfE’s Letters and Sounds program is a systematic way of teaching children to read by linking sounds (phonemes) to the symbols (letters) which represent them (graphemes).
The phonics skills and knowledge children require for reading and writing is broken into 6 phases which are taught in Kindergarten to Year 2.
Here’s a breakdown of the 6 Letters and Sounds Phases:
Phase 1 is focused on developing speaking and listening skills. This phase lays the foundation of the phonic skills that begin in Phase 2.
In Phase 1 the emphasis is on attuning students to the sounds around them and ready to begin developing oral blending and segmenting skills.
Phase 1 of Letters and Sounds focuses on developing children’s speaking and listening skills. It lays the foundation for Phase 2 of phonics.
The aim of the first phase of phonics is to get children attuned with the sounds around them and readies them to begin developing oral blending and segmenting skills.
Phase 1 is divided into seven aspects that focus on auditory discrimination, auditory memory and sequencing, and developing vocabulary and language comprehension.
The seven aspects are:
- General Sound Discrimination – Environmental Sounds
- General Sound Discrimination – Instrumental Sounds
- General Sound Discrimination – Body Percussion
- Rhythm and Rhyme
- Voices Sounds
- Oral Blending and Segmenting
In Phase 2 children are introduced to graphemes for the first time. Each grapheme (the written representation of a sound) is introduced one at a time alongside the corresponding phoneme (the sound that the written letter makes).
In Phase 2, letters and their sounds are introduced one at a time. A set of letters is taught each week, the SATPIN sequence, as it it sometimes known is an adjustment of this original sequence:
- Set 1 introduces the first four letters and seven words that can be used for segmenting and blending: s,a,t,p, – at, a, sat, pat, sap, as, tap
- Set 2 includes 4 new letters: i,n,m,d – it, is, sit, sat, pit, tip, pip, sip,an, in, nip, pan, pin, tin, tan, nap, am, man, mam, mat, map, Pam, Tim, Sam, dad, and, sad, dim, dip, din, did, Sid
- Set 3 contains 4 new letters and 28 decodable words: g,o,c,k – tag, gag, gig, gap, nag, sag, gas, pig, dig, got, on, not, pot, top, dog, pop, God, Mog, can, cot, cop, cap, cat, cod, kid, kit, Kim, Ken
- Set 4 also includes 4 more letters: ck, e,u,r – kick, sock, sack, dock, pick, sick, pack, ticket, pocket, get, pet, ten, net, pen, peg, met, men, neck, up, mum, run, mug, cup, sun, tuck, mud, sunset, rim, rip, ram, rat, rag, rug, rot, rocket, carrot
- Set 5 introduces 7 graphemes: h, b, f, ff, l, ll, ss – had, him, his, hot, hut, hop, hum, hit, hat, has, hack, hug, but, big, back, bet, bag, bed, bud, beg, bug, bun, bus, bat, bit, bucket, beckon, rabbit, of, if, off, fit, fin, fun, fig, fog, puff, huff, cuff, fan, fat, lap, let, leg, lot, lit, bell, fill, doll, tell, sell, Bill,Nell, dull, laptop, ass, less, hiss, mass, mess, boss, fuss, hiss, pass, kiss, Tess, fusspot
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.
In this phase children will start learning about digraphs and trigraphs as well as 25 new graphemes. Here’s the Phase 3 order
- j, v, w, x, y, z, zz, qu
- Consonant digraphs – ch, sh, th, ng
- Vowel digraphs and trigraphs – 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 also introduced:
In Phase 4 there are no new graphemes to learn. The focus of Phase 4 is to consolidate existing phonic knowledge and to help students to learn to read and spell longer words containing adjacent consonants, e.g. ‘frog’ and ‘spring’, as well as decodable words with two or more syllables, such as ‘lunchbox’ and ‘chimpanzee’.
There are still 14 ‘tricky words’ to learn at Phase 4, including:
- said, have, like, so, do, some, come, were, there, little, one, when, out, what
Children ready for Letters and Sounds Phase 5 can read and spell words with adjacent consonants, such as trap, string and flask. They will also be able to read and spell some polysyllabic words.
In Letters and Sounds Phase 5, children are taught more graphemes, including:
- ay, ou, ie, ea, oy, ir, ue, aw, wh, ph, ew, oe, au, ey, a-e, e-e, i-e, o-e, u-e. (N.B – ue, ew, u-e all have two pronunciations: oo and yoo.)
In Phase 5 students also learn that there are alternative pronunciations for graphemes, e.g. c can make the sound s in words such as ‘ice’ and ‘city’.
There are also 9 ‘tricky words’ to learn in Letters and Sounds Phase 5:
- oh, their, people, Mr, Mrs, looked, called, asked, could
By the beginning of Phase 6, children will know over 50 of the most common grapheme–phoneme correspondences (GPCs).
Students should be able to read hundreds of words automatically that are familiar, quickly and silently decode words using their sounding and blending skills, and decode, aloud, more difficult words.
Letters and Sounds Phase 6 is the final phase of the program. It focuses on turning students into fluent readers and accurate spellers. In this Phase students are taught fundamental grammatical skills, such as verb tenses, suffixes, additional spelling rules and helpful spelling techniques.
There are no new tricky words to teach
Children’s spelling should be phonemically accurate, although it may still be a little unconventional at times. Spelling usually lags behind reading, as it is harder.
Read more about the DfE UK Letters and Sounds Program here
Letters and Sounds Phonics Activities
Our Letters and Sounds Phonics games for beginning sounds follow the SATPIN order, but we’ve also included special requests from schools that use alternative sequences and the A-Z order.
Whichever Letters and Sounds order you follow or phonics teaching resources will inject some fun into your lessons!
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