The six phonic phases
Children explore sounds and words and develop awareness of rhyme, rhythm and alliteration. They learn how to orally blend sounds and distinguish different sounds in words.
These are on-going skills and it is very important that children are exposed to a rich variety of language from an early age. This can be through conversation,
nursery rhymes, stories, and games.
Children are introduced to at least 19 letters and corresponding sounds.
- 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
They begin to read and spell simple 3 letter words eg sat, pin. They also begin to read High Frequency words.
Children learn one grapheme (how a phoneme is written) for a further 25 phonemes. These include consonant and vowel digraphs (e.g. ch, ng, ai, oa) and trigraphs (e.g. igh, air). They read and spell HFWs.
Throughout Phase 3, 4 and 5 children will also be using ‘alien’ words, this is good practise for segmenting and blending sounds and will prepare Year 1 children for the phonics screening.
Graphemes: ear air ure er ar or ur ow oi ai ee igh oa oo
Consonant digraphs: ch sh th ng
- Set 6 - j v w x
- Set 7 - y z zz qu
Children read and spell words containing consonant clusters. These are 2 or more consonants, but when put together, each can be heard as individual phonemes e.g. cl dr sk mp nd. Words containing these are known as CCVC and CVCC words. e.g. black, strip, chest).
Towards the end of Phase 4 they will also begin to work with compound words such as lunchbox, pondweed and handstand.
Children entering Phase 5 will already be able to 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.
The purpose of this phase is for children to broaden their knowledge of graphemes and phonemes for use in reading and spelling.
In Phase 5, children will learn alternative 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.
ay, ou, ie, ea, oy, ir, ue, aw, wh, ph, ew, oe, au, a-e, e-e, i-e, o-e, u-e.
Alternative graphemes for:
i, o, c, g, u, ow, ie, ea, er, a, y, ch, ou
Phase 6 and beyond
Children should now be able to read hundreds of words, doing this in four ways:
- Reading the words automatically if they are very familiar;
- Decoding them quickly and silently because their sounding and blending routine is now well established;
- Decoding them aloud.
- The shift from learning to read to reading to learn takes place and children read for information and for pleasure.
Strategies for learning spellings
- Syllables - break it into smaller bits to remember (e.g. Sep-tem-ber)
- Base words - find its base word (e.g. Smiling = smile +ing,
- Analogy - Use words that I already know to help (e.g. could: would, should)
- Mnemonics - make up a sentence to help remember it (e.g. could – O U Lucky Duck; people – people eat orange peel like elephants)
How you can help at home
This video explains how to pronounce pure sounds.
This video explains how to blend sounds to read words.
1.Reading every night at home with your child.
2.Practise reading and writing tricky words. If children know these they are more likely to gain speed and fluency in their reading. See the list above.
3.Practising your children’s handwriting. It is important children are forming their letters the correct way round. You can use this video with your child to help you.
4.Phonics Games. See the links below.
Lots of free games for each phase, especially good for reading non-words. You can also subscribe to access more games.
Includes further information on each phase as well as printable resources and links to online games.
Wide range of games for sounds, words and rhyming.
Search engine designed for schools where you can find a wide range of resources and activities with a phonics focus.