St FrancisChurch of England Primary School

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Phonics at St Francis

Phonics Guidance for Parents

Year R, 1 and 2


Phonics Speed Sound lessons

Within our phonics lessons we teach Set 1, 2 and 3 sounds. The Set 2 sounds are normally taught at the end of Year R and Set 2 and 3 sounds are taught in Year 1 and revisited in Year 2. By the end of Year 1 we expect all pupils to recognise all of the sounds in Set 1, 2 and 3. Your child will bring home flashcards of the sounds, rhymes and pictures we use in school to support them with their learning.


We teach these sounds by showing them the sound, then teaching them a rhyme with a picture to accompany it. For example: ai, ai snail in the rain.

We then show the children the sound in words. We ask them to say the special friends sounds first. Special friends are digraphs or trigraphs, this is when two or three letters go together to make a sound. For example: ai = rain. Once they have said the special friends sounds they recognise we will then use Fred talk to sound out the words. E.g. r – ai – n. The children then blend these sounds together to say the word rain.

We then repeat this process using words with sounds in that the children have already been taught. This is our opportunity to revisit and review sounds/ words to ensure the children continue applying their prior knowledge.

After that we repeat the same process with non-sense words. These words are sometimes called alien words and are made up of different sounds that they children know but are not real words. For example caif. The children would say the special friends ‘ai’, then Fred talk c – ai –f and say the non-sense word caif. We make it clear to the children that these words are not real and therefore they need to look very carefully at the sounds. This is a useful assessment tool as we can see if the children are using their phonics knowledge to decode the words and not just that they have learnt to sight read the word.

After practising using the new sound to read, we then move onto the writing section. Here we will ask the children to write new words using the sound taught in the lesson. To do this we would say “say the word rain, how many sounds are there in rain?” The children would then count on their fingers how many sounds in the word rain and show us. We would then ask them to say the word again and then pinch the sounds. This means they say each sound in the word and pinch their fingers as they say it. This helps them to develop their grapheme phoneme correspondence. The children will then write the word in their book and underline the special friends. They will then tell the teacher the sounds they have used to spell the word and the teacher will model writing the word correctly. As they progress they will start to use letter names to tell their teacher which letters they have used but this is not started straight away. They continue this with another 2 or 3 words.

We then repeat this process using words that contain sounds they already know. Again this is to allow the children to review sounds they have been previously taught so they continue to apply their prior phonics knowledge.

We teach the sounds in this order:

Set 1 sounds: 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

You can find out how to pronounce each sound correctly here:




Story Time Lessons

The second part of our Read Write Inc time is our story time lesson.

In Year R the children start off using sound blending books. Because the children’s knowledge of the phonics sounds is limited we look at CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) words which contain the sounds they know in them. For example if they know the sounds m, a, s, d, t, i, n they might look at words like tin, mad, din, tan. This will allow them to practise their blending skills and apply their knowledge of the phonics sounds they have been taught. These books will be read daily.

We then move onto Ditties. Ditties come on sheets of paper and contain a few words strung together, the words used contain only the sounds that the children have been taught. The children will receive a new Ditty daily.

After Ditties we have Red Ditty books. These books contain very short sentences and have three ditties per book. On the first day the children will look at the story green word cards (think of these as topic words, they are specific to the book and may be uncommon words), red word cards (tricky words which cannot be sounded out) and speedy green words (high frequency words). On day 2 the children will read the first ditty and answer questions about it. On day 3 they will read the second ditty and again answer questions. On day 4 they will read the last ditty and will answer the specific questions for that ditty. On day 5 the teacher will assess what areas the children need to work on and they will revisit the appropriate ditty to recap the learning.

After the Red Ditty books we then move onto the colour banded books. This allows us to read books that contain sounds the children have already been taught. During this time the children develop their accuracy, fluency, expression and comprehension. On the first day of starting a new book the children will practise their sounds by looking at the speed sounds at the beginning of the book. The sounds that are circled are the sounds focused on in the text. They will then be taught how to read the story green word, red word cards and speedy green words. We develop their accuracy with these words so they are able to apply their knowledge when reading the text. The second day the teacher will share an introduction of the story – a bit like a blurb. The children will read through the story for the first time with a partner, sounding out unfamiliar words and applying their knowledge of the words learnt on the previous day. The teacher will then read the text to them. On day 3 the children re-read the text to build up their fluency. The teacher will also re-read the text to them. On day 4 the teacher will start by sharing the text with them talking through using expression. They will focus on certain points of the text to encourage children to use characters voices or change their expression. The children will then re-read the text one more time and try to use expression. On day 5 the children may read the book one more time if the teacher feels they need more practise and then they will look at the questions in the back of the book. This builds up their inference, prediction and retrieval skills. On day 5 the children will then be given the book to take home accompanied by a book bag book which again focuses on sounds that the children have already learnt. We encourage the children to re-read these books at home multiple times to continue to build up their accuracy, fluency, expression and comprehension.

Oxford Owl

At home the children are able to access a wide variety of the books that we use in school as an e-book on Oxford Owl. This is an incredibly valuable resource which includes e-books, quizzes, handwriting sheets and sound and word practise sheets. They also provide videos for both children and parents including why it is so important to read to your child, what Read Write Inc is, helpful tips for reading with your child, how to say the sounds, understanding phonics and much more.

For further information and helpful resources to use at home please see: