Great phonics games for differentiation No. 1

At present we are working with Yr1 teachers on phonics teaching.  As a result of this project we have asked the teachers to share with us the best games or activities that they have found for whole class/group teaching which allows for differentiation and therefore all to take part.  Over the next few weeks we will be collecting these examples and sharing them.

Here is one to get us started.  As you will see, they are usually based on games/activities we all know but adapted in some way.  This one is called Matching with Meaning and is based on the matching pictures and sentences activity.  It’s purpose is to ensure that children are not just decoding the words but focusing on meaning through linking the text and images so I try not to make all the images too literal.  It is an activity for the apply part of a phonics session.

You will need a range of words, captions or sentences for the children to read .  I usually try to use 3for each pair of children  but it will depend upon the reading speed of your class.  The differentiation is found in terms of the amount of text that you give a child or pair to read and the phase from which it comes.  Some children at the very beginning of phase 2 will have 3 words, those in phase 5 will have 3 sentences using the phonemes they are working on and anything  in between these two that is needed.

On the whiteboard, images are shown that link to the words, captions and sentences that the children have and when they have something that links with the image they stand up and read it to the class.  There are some interesting discussions when more than one pair stand up because then the class need to decide if they are both right or not.

You will find the resources for this activity here.

What’s your favourite activity that allows for differentiation for the whole class?

Advent Calendars

We are all teaching quite a lot of phonics with our projects at the moment and I had a thought about linking advent calendars with phonics.  However, I soon let go of the link as I looked around at calendars that could be made in the classroom.  Here are my favourites that I think would be suitable for children to have a go at.

I think this is possibly  my favourite just because it is so easy to make.  Inside the envelopes I was thinking of a little message giving the class a different task to undertake each day – or you could put chocolate! If it was a phonics calendar, you could put the sound/phoneme or high frequency word of the day!







Boxes of all sort feature heavily in handmade advent calendars.  I like the arrangement of these boxes.






















Phonics Updates

This week the government’s catalogue of approved resources and training   for phonics was released.  These are resources that can be purchased and are eligible for match-funding, making them half price.  At the same time the evaluation of the Yr1 phonics assessment was also made available online.  We were delighted to see the statement

Letters and Sounds was by far the most frequently used programme, used by 80% of schools as their main programme.

especially as we are in the catalogue for Letters and Sounds training in the South West.  What surprised us was the fact that all the other systematic synthetic phonics programmes were listed by name but not Letters and Sounds.  It comes under the ‘generic’ heading.  The trouble is that not everything under the generic heading is Letters and Sounds so it is a little confusing.

We have been looking through the catalogue at  resources to support Letters and Sounds and have come up with the following:

Rebecca discovered some fantastic resources from OUP: Oxford Reading Tree Traditional Tales. that are available as ebooks with a selection offered for  free.  These books are phonically decodable and so would be suitable for children to use.  But what makes this a great resource is the story-teller videos and ready made story maps to support retelling.  This means that the phonically decodable texts can be used to support a unit of work on traditional tales that involves talk for writing. These resources can be found on p72 of the catalogue.

We really like the Phonics bug decodable texts from Pearson starting on p21 (you may recognise some of these as Rigby Star phonics books), Floppy’s Phonics non-fiction books p14, along with the speed sound cards from Read Write Inc on p46.  There are also some magnetic letters with digraphs and trigraphs joined together from Jolly Phonics on p18 and the idea of trugs on p62 which our SEN adviser Linda Chapman recommends for children with specific literacy difficulties.

If you are working with KS2 children who need phonically decodable books, we like the look of Project X Phonics on p68.

If you do not have many resources ready made for Letters and Sounds, we think the Smart Kids boxes that have all the resources necessary for each phase look like good value.  See them on p86.  The phonic pebbles from Yellow Door on p99 would be great for use in the sand or water tray in the early years/KS1.

We can be found on p108.

Do you have any favourite phonics resources that you couldn’t do without?