Teaching Reading and Phonics at St Mary's

Every child deserves success right from the start. We know that the sooner children learn to read, the greater their success at school. This is why we put reading at the heart of what we do.

We use a teaching programme called Read Write Inc. Phonics to teach our children to read and write. This begins in Reception and continues into daily phonics sessions in Y1 and Y2.

How do we make phonics easy for children to learn?

Read Write Inc. Phonics depends upon children learning to read and write sounds effortlessly, so we make it simple and fun.

The phonic knowledge is split into two parts.

First we teach them one way to read and write the 40+ sounds in English. We use pictures to help, for example we make ‘a’ into the shape of an apple, ‘f’ into the shape of a flower. These pictures help all children, especially slower-starters, to read the sounds easily.

Children learn to read words by sound-blending using a frog called Fred. Fred says the sounds and children help him blend the sounds to read each word.

Then we teach children the different spellings of the same sounds. For example, they learn that the sound ‘ay’ is written ay, a-e and ai; the sound ‘ee’ is written ee, e and ea. We use phrases and actions to help them remember each sound for example, ay, may I play, a-e  – make a cake?

 

The Order of Teaching Sounds

In Read Write Inc phonics the individual sounds are called ‘speed sounds’ – because we want your child to read them effortlessly. Set 1 sounds are the initial letter sounds. They are taught in the following order.

m, a, s, d, t, i, n, p, g, o, c, k, u, b, f, e, l, h, sh, r, j, v, y, w, th, z, ch, qu, x, ng, nk

There are 12 Set 2 ‘speed sounds’ that are made up of two or three letters which represent just one sound, e.g. ay as in play, ee as in tree and igh as in high.  When children learn their Set 2 sounds they will learn:

„h the letters that represent a speed sound e.g. ay

„h a simple picture prompt linked to the ‘speed sound’ and a short phrase to say e.g. may I play.

 

Every speed sound has a list of green words linked to it, so your child can ‘sound out’ and ‘sound blend’ words containing the new speed sound they have just learnt, for example s-p-r-ay = spray.

When learning their Set 3 speed sounds they will be taught that there are more ways in which the same sounds are written, e.g. ee as in tree and ea as in tea.

 

The table below shows the sound, the associated phrase and example 'green' words

 

 

Vowel sound

Set 2 Speed Sound Rhyme

Green words

ay

ay: may I play

day play say may tray today

ee

ee: what can you see?

seen need sleep feel three green

igh

igh: fly high

might light sight night fright

ow

ow: blow the snow

snow flow know show blow

oo

oo: poo at the zoo

mood fool pool stool moon spoon

oo

oo: look at a book

took shook cook foot

ar

ar: start the car

bar park smart sharp car spark

or

or: shut the door

sort short worn horse sport fork

Vowel Sound

Set 3 Speed Sound Rhyme

Green Words

a-e

a-e: make a cake

shake name same save brave late

ea

ea: cup of tea

neat real clean please dream

i-e

i-e: nice smile

hide shine white nice wide like

o-e

o-e: phone home

hope home rose spoke note those

u-e

u-e: huge brute

tune rude use June excuse

aw

aw: yawn at dawn

saw raw law straw dawn crawl

are

are: care and share

bare bare spare scare flare square

ur

ur: nurse with a purse

burn turn hurl burp slurp lurk

ow

ow: brown cow

howl down brown drown gown

oi

oi: spoil the boy

join coin voice choice noise

ai

ai: snail in the rain

paint train rain plain strain

e

e: he me she we

he me she we he

oa

oa: goat in a boat

toad road oak loaf throat toast

ew

ew: chew the stew

new knew flew blew crew newt

er

er: better letter

over never weather hamster after

ire

ire: fire

spire bonfire inspire conspire hire

ear

oar: hear with your ear

fear dear gear spear year

ure

ure: sure it’s pure

picture mixture adventure pure

 

 

 

Reading the books

Once the children are confident in recognising initial letter sounds and blending these into words, they will begin to read ditties, followed by story books.

Before they read the story, they sound out the names of characters and new words, practise reading any of the ‘tricky red’ words, and tell them a thought-provoking introduction to get them excited about the story.

Then, the children read the story, several times, to focus on reading the words carefully; reading the story fluently and reading with understanding.

Staff read to the children, often, in order to model fluency and expression.  We talk to the children, as we read, commenting on the characters and events and sharing our thoughts about the story.  This modelling of our thinking encourages the children to do the same, thus helping them understand what they are reading more fully.

How do we teach children to spell confidently?

We use just two simple activities: Fred Fingers to spell regular words and Red Rhythms for tricky words.

Fred Fingers

We teach children to spell using ‘Fred Fingers’: we say a word and then children pinch the sounds onto their fingers and write the word, sound by sound.

Red Rhythms

We teach tricky words with Red Rhythms. We say the tricky letters in a puzzled or annoyed voice and build the letter names up into a rhythm, for example, s-ai-d.

 

How do we make writing simple for children to learn?

We teach handwriting, spelling and composition separately, gradually bringing each skill together step-by-step.

We teach children to form letters with the correct pencil grip and in the correct sitting position from the very beginning. They practise handwriting regularly so they learn to write quickly and easily.

Once children can write simple words, we teach them to ‘hold’ a sentence in their heads and then write it with correct spelling and punctuation.

Very soon children are able to write down their own ideas. We try out different sentences together, drawing on new vocabulary and phrases from the storybook they’ve just read.  They practise saying their sentences out loud first so they don’t forget their ideas while they’re writing.  They also learn to proofread their own writing using ready-made sentences containing common grammar, punctuation and spelling errors.

 

Story and Poetry Time

Over the course of the year, the children will listen to a range of stories and poems, learning to join in with repeated phrases, for example,  in traditional tales and also, sharing information in non-fiction books.  At St. Mary’s, we are very good at linking the chosen texts to the topics we are studying, each half term, and developing a range of reading and writing activities for the children to explore and enjoy.

Additional Phonics Resources

Please click on the link to access the resources.

Please ask your child's teacher if you need their username.

'Phonics at Home' website page