Phonics – learning to read and write sounds

What is phonics?

Phonics refers to a method for teaching speakers of English to read and write their language. It involves connecting the sounds of spoken English with letters or groups of letters (e.g that the sound /k/ can be represented by c, k, ck or ch spellings) and teaching them to blend the sounds of letters together to produce approximate pronunciations of unknown words. In this way, phonics enables people to use individual sounds to construct words. For example, when taught the sounds for the letters t, p, a and s, one can build up the words “tap”, “pat”, “pats”, “taps” and “sat”
Phonics – methods of teaching

Synthetic phonics - an approach associated with the teaching of reading in which phonemes (sounds) associated with particular graphemes (letters) are pronounced in isolation and blended together (synthesised). For example, children are taught to take a single-syllable word such as cat apart into its three letters, pronounce a phoneme for each letter in turn /k, æ, t/, and blend the phonemes together to form a word.

At Haresfield School we use the Jolly Phonics scheme to build our first phonics sessions around and then as the children progress we use a variety of strategies and games to develop the children’s skills.

What is Jolly Phonics?

Jolly Phonics is a fun and child centred approach to teaching literacy through synthetic phonics. With actions for each of the 42 letter sounds, the multi-sensory method is very motivating for children and teachers, who can see their pupils achieve.

Letter Sound Order

The sounds are taught in a specific order (not alphabetically). This enables children to begin building words as early as possible.
  1.  s,  a,  t,  i,  p,  n
  2.  c k,  e,  h,  r,  m,  d
  3.  g,  o,  u,  l,  f,  b
  4. ai,  j,  oa,  ie,  ee,  or
  5. z,  w,  ng,  v,  00,  oo
  6.  y, x,  ch,  sh,  th,  th
  7.  qu,  ou,  oi,  ue,  er, ar

How does Jolly Phonics work?

Using a synthetic phonics approach, Jolly Phonics teaches children the five key skills for reading and writing. The programme continues through school enabling the teaching of essential grammar, spelling and punctuation skills.

The five skills taught in Jolly Phonics

1.Learning the letter sounds

Children are taught the 42 main letter sounds. This includes alphabet sounds as well as digraphs such as sh, th, ai and ue.

2.Learning letter formation

Using different multi-sensory methods, children learn how to form and write the letters.


Children are taught how to blend the sounds together to read and write new words.

4.Identifying the sounds in words (Segmenting)

Listening for the sounds in words gives children the best start for improving spelling.

5.Tricky words

Tricky words have irregular spellings and children learn these separately.