Phonics in Year 1

Letters and Sounds

Letters and sounds gives early years practitioners and teachers a powerful phonics teaching tool to ensure that young children are well-placed to read and spell words with fluency and confidence by the time that reach the end of Key Stage One. This is an entitlement we want to achieve for every child. In Year 1 we focus on phase five of Letters and Sounds.

Introduction to Phase Five Letters and Sounds

The purpose of this phase is for children to broaden their knowledge of graphemes** and phonemes* for use in reading and spelling. They will learn new graphemes and alternative pronunciations for these and graphemes they already know, where relevant. Some of the alternatives will already have been encountered in the high-frequency words that have been taught. Children become quicker at recognising graphemes of more than one letter in words and at blending the phonemes they represent. When spelling words they will learn to choose the appropriate graphemes to represent phonemes and begin to build word-specific knowledge of the spelling of words.

By the end of Phase Five children should:

  • give the sound when shown any grapheme that has be taught;
  • for any given sound, write the common graphemes;
  • apply phonic knowledge and skill as a prime approach to reading and spelling unfamiliar words that are not completely decidable;
  • read and spell phonically decodable two-syllable and three-syllable words;
  • read automatically all the words in the list of 100 high-frequency words;
  • accurately spell most of the words in the list of 100 high-frequency words;
  • form each letter correctly.

*Phonemes – a phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in a word that can change its meaning (e.g. in bed/led the difference between the phonemes b/l signals the difference in meaning between the words bed and led).

**Grapheme – A grapheme is a symbol of a phoneme, that is, a letter or group of letters representing a sound.

Year One Approach to Phonics

Phonics in Year One is taught on a daily basis within class. The children will receive a 20 minute phonics session at the beginning of the day. The phonics will then be reinforced through guided reading, literacy and afternoon activities. A half termly letter will go home to inform you of the sounds we will be covering in class.

High Frequency Words

One of our phonics sessions within in the week focuses on reviewing and teaching of high-frequency words. In the Autumn term we send home differentiated ‘Word Walls’ that will give the children a range of words they need to learn to read and write by sight, by the end of Year One. In Spring term we introduce a ‘Spelling Quiz’ where we will be asking the children to practise spelling a short list of target words each week. We will be checking these spellings in a weekly spelling quiz. The words will go home on a half term overview letter and each week the children will receive ‘look, write, cover check’ sheets to help them practise. This will continue throughout the spring and summer term.