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Phonics and Reading at Buttsbury Infant School


Starting in Early Years, children are taught phonics; the journey of learning to read, write and spell.  The process of learning to read and write begins at an early age.  This can be done in a range of ways and settings, including at home. Exposing children to conversation and books is essential.

Spoken Language

Listening and talking to your child is essential.  Speaking and listening are the building blocks for reading and writing; the more language your child is exposed to, the more they will understand and use for themselves.

Storytime Phonics and Letters and Sounds

At Buttsbury Infant School we teach phonics following Letters and Sounds. In September 2021 the Reception children will learn phonics through Storytime Phonics.  This scheme brings Phonics to life.  This systematic phonics programme is divided into six phases.  During each phase, new skills are taught whilst continually building on previous phases. 

Click on the link below to watch a short video clip about Storytime Phonics. 

Storytime Phonics

Reading Schemes and Resources to support Reading 

At Buttsbury we believe that children should have access to a variety of reading materials. We use Oxford Reading Tree, Collins Big Cats and Bug Club. Children take home two reading books which are linked to the phonics they are being taught in class. Children also have access to Bug Club online. Below is a break down of the six phases as well as a video as to how we teach phonics. 

Phase 1

This beginning of the systematic learning of phonics usually takes place in nursery or pre-school.  It falls primarily in the Communication, Language and Literacy area of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum.   

During this phase children should be exposed to a language-rich environment, with activities being mainly adult-led and built up to teaching children the basic elements of blending and segmenting.

Useful tips - Share books - through the sharing of books, children's vocabulary increases which enables them to talk confidently.

This phase is divided into 7 strands-

  1. Environmental sounds- children are exposed to sounds in the environment and encouraged to copy them.
  2. Instrumental sounds - Children are encouraged to listen to and copy different instruments.
  3. Body percussion - Children use their bodies to make different sounds, for example tapping and clapping.
  4. Rhythm and rhyme - Children are encouraged to join in with repeated rhymes.
  5. Alliteration - Children are encouraged to listen to initial sounds within words.  They are asked to think of other words with the same sound.
  6. Voice sounds - Children are encouraged to make different mouth movements and to say a range of sounds.
  7. Oral blending and segmenting - This stage is particularly important before children are exposed to grapheme and phoneme correspondence (learning which letter represents each sound).

Blending - The merging together of sounds is called blending.

Segmenting - This is the opposite to blending.The children hear the whole word before it is broken up into separate sounds (phonemes).

How to support your child at home:

Practise blending in and around the home.

D-o-g - Dog

Can you put on your s-o-c-k?

Phase 2

In  this phase children will be taught the grapheme/phoneme representations for 19 letters.  Additionally, they will be taught that phonemes can be represented by more than one letter.






s a t p

i n d m

g o c k

ck e u r

h b f,ff, l,ll s

To learn a sound, you can:

*    Say a number of words with the same sound and exaggerate it eg fffffffun;

*    Show children the grapheme (letter) that  represents the sound.

VC and CVC words-

V - Vowel

C - Consonant

VC - words are words that consist of a vowel and a consonant (am, on, it).

CVC - words are words that consist of a consonant, vowel and consonant (cat, pen, dog). CVC words are also words such a ‘bell’ which only has 3 phonemes (sounds) b-e-ll.

Useful tip - Pure sounds should always be used when teaching childen to say sounds.  This means that the 'uh' sound should not be used after sounds.  For example, f should be ffff not fuh.  The Oxford Owl website has a good video demonstration of pure sounds (www.oxfordowl.co.uk).

Tricky words (words that cannot be sounded out) taught in Phase 2 - the, to, I, no, go.

How to support your child at home - Use flashcards that expose your child to the sounds that they have learnt.

Use magnetic letters so children can practise spelling new words.

Phase 3

The purpose of this phase is to teach more graphemes, the remaining letters of the alphabet and some sounds that are made up of 2 or 3 letters (digraphs and trigraphs).

To blend and segment a larger number of CVC words.

Read and spell more tricky words.

To read more words by sight.

These sounds are taught:





j v w x

y z, zz qu

ch sh th ng ai ee oa

oo ar or ur ow oi er

igh ear air ure

It is important that children quickly begin to recognise digraphs and trigraphs as one sound rather than as separate letters.

Tricky words (words that cannot be sounded out) taught in Phase 3 - he, she, we, me, be, was, my, you, her, they, all.

Phase 4

The purpose of this phase is to consolidate the sounds already taught.  Children are also exposed to adjacent consonants and multisyllabic words.

Useful tip - It is important that children learn to read without blending as soon as possible.  The sooner they can read by sight, the quicker their fluency will improve.

CVCC and CCVC words - some examples are plum, toast, spoon, tent.

Tricky words (words that cannot be sounded out) taught in Phase 4 - said, so, do, have, like, some, come, were, little, one, when, out, what.

Phase 5

The purpose of this phase is for children to broaden their knowledge of phonemes and graphemes used for reading and spelling.  They will begin to be able to choose the appropriate graphemes to represent phonemes.

New graphemes for reading:

ay, ou, ie, ea, ay, oy, ir, ue, aw, wh, ph, ew, oe, au

a-e, i-e, o-e, u-e, e-e

Useful tip - split digraphs are introduced - see above.

Children will learn that the 'e' sound on the end causes the initial vowel to make a longer vowel sound rather than a shorter one.

Tricky words (words that cannot be sounded out) taught in Phase 5 - oh, Mrs, people, Mr, called, looked, could, asked, their.

How to support your child at home - Focus on split digraphs;

Encourage your child to write as many sounds/words in a set amount of time;

Expose your child to longer stories that include more complex vocabulary.

Phase 6

The main purpose of this phase is for children to develop their skill and automaticity in reading and spelling, creating ever-increasing capacity to read for meaning.

During Phase 6 children will:

Revise the sound they have learning during Phase 5;

They learn how regular verbs can be changed into the past tense by adding the suffix 'ed'.  Iregular verbs change in a different way, eg sing/sang;

Children are taught to find the tricky part of spellings and to use strategies to memorise them (Big Elephants Can Always Understand Small Elephants (because), for example);

They learn how prefixes and suffixes (letters before and after words) change the meaning or purpose of a word;

They learn how to create plurals of regular nouns by adding -s or -es (irregular nouns change in different ways, eg child to children);

Comparative and superlative adjectives are taught (big, bigger, biggest).

Children learn how to use apostrophes for contractions (don't, won't);

They learn common homophones (words that sound the same but have different meanings.  For example, their, there and they're.

How to support your child at home - Help them to learn and recall the spelling rules that have been taught.

What else can I do at home?

Sing nursery rhymes from an early age;

Share books as often as possible.  You can enjoy spending time with your child at the local library.  Re-reading books is useful as is enjoying books by the same author;

Listen to your child read and read to them regularly;

Allow your child to see you reading for pleasure;

Talk about books;

Use props and puppets to tell stories;

Listen to songs and add actions;

Use imaginative and adventurous vocabulary.

We often get questions about how we teach phonics at school.  Below you will find a video from our reception team and some information written by Miss Wollard, our English Lead.  We hope you will find it useful but if you have any questions please speak to your child's class teacher. 

Useful Websites

Phonics Play 

Phonic Play Comics

Oxford Reading tree Phonics explained

A big thank you to Miss Thomason, Mrs Hayes, Mrs Coleridge and Miss Woollard for putting the information together. 

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