Phonics is a way of teaching children to read and write by blending and segmenting individual sounds. Every letter and different combinations of letters, make particular sounds. For example, the letter ‘s’ makes a hissing like a snake. At Castle Primary School we follow the Letters and Sounds Programme of teaching. The programme is split into 6 phases that systematically build on skills and knowledge of previous learning. Alongside Letters and Sounds we use Jolly Phonics’ actions as a way of supporting children to learn the different sounds and use a phrase to help develop letter formation. See the pictures below for these.

Children throughout Reception and Key Stage 1 take part in daily phonics sessions. These sessions focus on key reading skills such as decoding to read words and segmenting the sounds in a given word to spell.  During Phonics lessons we also teach children to read and write ‘tricky words’ - words that you cannot sound out and children are just expected to remember how to read and write. As well as reading individual words, children spend time applying their phonic knowledge to read whole sentences.  Teachers include activities to allow children to develop their fluency and understanding of what they are reading.

At Castle Primary School, we also use phonics sessions to develop vocabulary by ensuring words are given a context and visual aids are provided to promote understanding of new language. Additionally, when we are revisiting sounds, words get progressively more challenging. This allows children to continuously expand their vocabulary.

Key terms we use in our teaching:

Digraph – two letters make one sound (e.g. sh, ch, ai, ea, ou, ow).

Trigraph – three letters make one sound (e.g. igh, ear, air, ure).

Split digraph – two letters make one sound but the letters have been split apart by another letter.

Phoneme – a single unit of sound

Grapheme – a written letter, or group of letters that represent a sound.

Consonants – b, c, d, f, g, h, j, k, l, m, n, p, q, r, s, t, v, w, x, y, z

Blend – to put or merge the sounds together to make a word (e.g. the sounds d-o-g are blended to the word ‘dog’.)

Segment – to break down the word into its individual sounds to spell (e.g cat can be split into the sounds c-a-t.).

Sound buttons – ways of visually isolating different sounds in a word. We use a dot under letters where one letter makes one sound and a line understand digraphs or trigraphs.

How you can help at home:

Reading as much as possible with your child (at least 4 times a week is our expectation):

Every week each child will be sent home a phonics decodable book at their reading level (these have coloured bands). Read these with your child and ask them questions about the story. It is important that children read this book more than once as this will ensure they develop their reading fluency.

Practise reading and writing tricky words:

If children know these they are more likely to gain speed and fluency in their reading.

Practising handwriting:

It is important children are forming their letters the correct way around. You can use the phrases below to help support your child.  

Spend playing phonics games online:

Read to your child:

Children enjoy listening to stories. This allows them to hear examples of fluent reading and increases their vocabulary.

Other Useful links: Songs for learning the sounds

Get in Touch!

Castle Primary School
Newlands Road,
BS31 2TS

Access is via Newlands Road NOT Dunster Road


0117 986 4489