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Letters and Sounds 


At Churchill we use the Letters and Sounds principles and practice to ensure high quaility, systematic phonics teaching. Letters and Sounds builds on children's speaking and listening skills in their own right as well as to prepare children for learning to read by developing their phonic knowledge and skills. Children area taught in small groups which are frequently changing based on ongoing gap analysis. 


What are Phonics Phases?

Phases are the way the Letters and Sounds Programme is broken down to teach sounds in a certain order. At the same timewhole words that cannot be broken down easily (common exception words) are taught to the children. 


Phase One (Nursery/Reception)

Activities are divided into seven aspects, including environmental sounds, instrumental sounds, body sounds, rhythm and rhyme, alliteration, voice sounds and finally oral blending and segmenting. 


Phase Two (Reception) up to 6 weeks

Learning 19 letters of the alphabet and one sound for each. Blending sounds together to make words. Segmenting words into their separate sounds. Beginning to read simple captions.


Phase Three (Reception) up to 12 weeks  

The remaining 7 letters of the alphabet , one sound for each. Graphemes such as ch,oo, th representing the remaining phonemes not covered by single letters. On completion of this phase, children will have learnt one grapheme for each phoneme in the English language. 


Phase Four (Reception) 4 -6 weeks

No new grapheme-phoneme correspondences are taught in this phase. Children learn to blend and segment longer words with adjacent consonants, e.g. swim, clap, jump. 


Phase Five (Throughout Year 1)

Children learn more grpahemes for the phonemes which they already know, plus different ways of pronouncing the graphemes they already know. 


Phase Six (Throughout Year 2 and beyond!)

Working on spelling , including prefixes and suffixes, doubling and dropping letters etc. 


What are Common Exception words? 

Common Exception words are words that cannot be 'sounded- out' but need to be learned by heart. They don't fit into the usual spelling patterns. Please find the Common Exception word list for Year 1 in this section of our class page.


What do the Phonics terms mean?  

Phoneme: The smallest unit of sound in a word, e.g. c/a/t, sh/o/p, t/ea/ch/er.

Grapheme: A letter of group of letters representing one sound, e.g. ch, igh, s.

Digraph: Two letters which together make one sound, e.g. ph, oa, ee, ch.

Split digraph: Two letters, which work as a pair, split, to represent one sound, e.g. a-e as in cake, or i-e as in kite.

Trigraph: Three letters which together make one sound but cannot be separated into smaller phonemes, e.g. igh as in night, air as in hair. 

Segmenting: Hearing the individual phonemes within a word, e.g. the word crash consists of four phonemes c-r-a-sh. In order to spell this word, a child must segment it into its component phonemes and choose a grapheme to best represent each phoneme. 

Blending: Merging the individual phonemes together to pronounce a word. In order to read an unfamiliar word, a child must recognise (sound out) each grapheme, not each letter, e.g. th-i-n not t-h-i-n, and then merge the phonemes together to make the word. 

Adjacent consonants : Two or Three letters with discrete sounds, which are blended together, e.g. str, tr, gr. 


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