Phonics, what’s all the fuss about?
Learning to read is essential for a child’s learning journey. Without the ability to read fluently, children cannot move on to the ‘reading to learn’ stage. In our modern society a huge amount of information is online and often in English. Helping children to develop their reading abilities in English does not only provide them with an essential life skill, but it will also allow them to enjoy songs and stories in English and actively engage with the language.
How does it work?
Snappy sounds use synthetic phonics which means children are taught the English alphabetic code in a simple, structured way. It starts off with simple short words, also called CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant) words, such cat and progresses to more complete groups of letters presenting sounds for example ough in enough or plough. Systematically going through the programme children are enabled to start their reading and writing journey in English. Through Snappy Sounds children learn:
- phonemes: the sound(s) that the letters represent
- graphemes: the letter -or combination of letters- that represent the sounds
- blending: sounding out the letters for a word and then putting it together to make a word. So ‘cat’ is read as c-a-t- and then put together as ‘cat’!
- segmenting: the opposite of blending where learners are trying to work out the spelling based on the sound of in the word. For example, the say ‘cat’ and break it up into c-a-t to write cat.
- that different letters can have the same sound (e.g. key, me, see)and the same letter can have different sounds (think of enough, plough, through)
- tricky words: words that cannot be sounded out, decoded, as they are not phonetically regular for example was, go, the or common words we want then to quickly recognise (and, get, like)
How can I support my child at home?
To provide you child with opportunities to consolidate their letter-sound knowledge and enable you to support your child with his/her reading journey at home, we have put together a set of simple, engaging activities for you and your child. They can be used in combination with Snappy Sounds but also with another other phonics program.
Parental support is invaluable for all children as they gain in confidence from praise and encouragement given by you whilst learning. So we have created some Snappy activities for you and your child to make phonics learning at home enjoyable and active. Prepare the resources you need and you are ready to enjoy your teaching and learning journey together!
- Select which activities match your child’s developmental and learning level, a key consideration is to only use items/words that the child knows the English word for.
- Some of the activities need stationary, others only need your imagination. However, it is important to provide multi-sensory input for you child so if possible vary the activities.
- Children do not need a new activity with new words every day, repetition is powerful in developing the necessary automaticity in reading.
- Be aware of your child’s responses during the activity. If interest is being lost, stop the activity and come back to it later.
- Make sure you build on what the child already knows and practise little and often. Learning needs to be a positive experience and not all children find it easy to learn and blend sounds so be patient.
Snappy Learning activities
Before any of the below consolidation activities make sure you revise the sounds* & words that they already know so you can set them up for success.
- Sit on the floor in the centre of the room and make sure you can see plenty of different items around you that your child knows the name of in English.
- Get your child to revisit the sound(s) you will focus on. Make the movement or action that they have learned for the sound(s) /s/ get them to say ‘ssssssnake’ and draw an S in the air
- If the room is safe to move around you can direct them: “Touch something beginning with the sounds /s/…” The child get ups and touches an item beginning with /s/ (eg sock, salt, spoon, snack, sand etc.)
- If moving around is not possible, adapt the activity to “I spy with my little eye something beginning with the sound /s/ what is it?” They look around and shout out the word.
*(Children should learn each letter by its sound, not its name. For example, the letter b should be called b and not bee)
- Check the words your child has learned so far, as they need to be able to succeed
- Select some of these words and tell them you are going to talk like a robot.
- If you want to make it interesting, put on you robot head or goggles J
- Get your child to listen to all the letters you say before shouting out the word. “Listen to the robot and help him say the word.” Sounds out the sounds so for snake, say the four sounds in a robotic voice; S—N—A–KE.
- Encourage the child to blend it and say ‘snake’.
- After a while change roles and get them to do the Robot talk.
|3-Sound it out||Focus||Materials|
|Productive||Segmenting||Materials: items/toys and 1 or 2 bags|
- Collect a set of items your child knows the English words for. This can be toys, images or other items you find in your house.
- Put them in a bag, any bag will do as long as you cannot see through it
- Version 1– place 1item in a feelie bag and get them your child to put their hand in the bag and feel. They can guess what the item is and say the word. If correct, tell them to sound out the word while you reveal the item. So, they say ‘banana’ first and then sound it out ‘b-a-n-a-n-a. Remember not to accept the alphabet here, we want the sounds!
- Version 2– place all items in the bag, get them to take one out, get them to say the word – in case they can’t recall, say the word- and ask the learners to sound it out.
- Of course you can swap roles here too and make some mistakes when you name the items or spell the words!
|Receptive & productive||Sound recognition
|Items/toys that start with certain sound, bags, blank paper, pen and clothes pegs|
- Collect a set of items your child knows the English words for. These can be toys, images or other items you find in the house that start with the sound(s) you are working on and place these on a tray or bag them.
- Prepare a as many bags are you’ve got phonemes to focus on. For example, if you want to work on the sounds /s/ /sh/ /b/ and /p/ you need 4 bags. Write the grapheme that presents these sounds on a card each. With a peg hang the cards on each bag. So each bag has got one grapheme on it.
- Ask your child to pick up the items from the tray (or the bag) and get them to put them in the right bag
- Next ask them to take all items out and say each word before sounding it out.
- As a follow up you can get them to make bags for the next game and collect items or if they want to write, let them have a go at writing the names for the items.
|5- Photo Board||Focus||Materials|
|Receptive & productive||Sound recognition
|a mobile device with camera, a tablet or computer with internet access, or stationary: blank paper, felt tips, glue, scissors.|
- This activity is great for learners who can work a bit more independently and can use a mobile device to take pictures.
- Give your child a sound and get them to take pictures of items that begin with the selected sounds(s). Or go through photos on the phone to identify items. Say the word and sound it out for each image.
- Download the images and upload them onto a digital corkboard, like Padlet.com for example or Pic Collage. Get your child to add the letter, or maybe even the word. Go online and collect items that begin with the same sound and insert these on your digital corkboard.
- If you do not have access to a computer, get your child to draw the items on small pieces of papers. Then draw the grapheme of the sound on a larger piece of paper (for an arty approach you can use glue and sprinkle glitter over it…) and collect the drawing with the same sound to stick on the paper to create a sound board. For the sound /s/ you could for example take a picture of salad, sun, then draw a snake and put salt in a snaplock bag to glue on paper and attach a (real) sock to the paper board. Then write the word on paper to stick next to the item.
|6- Tricky word Slap||Focus||Materials|
|receptive||Reviewing Sight words**||Blank paper, marker, scissors, fly swatter|
- Fold an A4 in half and then in half again. Now you have got 4 squares to write a tricky word in each to revisit. (INSERT SNAPPY SOUND IMAGE OF SIGHT WORDS).
- Cut the 4 cards out. Ensure you’ve got about 12-16 words for this activity.
- Space out the words on the floor. Roll up and A4 to make a soft ‘bat’ (now if you have a fly swatter you could also use this!)
- Say the word and get your child to slap the right sight word. Ask them to say the word and use it in a short sentence if this is appropriate for their level. For example, ‘we’ and the sentence could be ‘we like apples.’
- After a while change roles and get them to say the sight words you need to slap
- This activity could be followed up by the activity below.
Now If you want your child to be more active you could write sight words on A4s and tape these to the floor (works well on a wooden floor, not carpet) and get them to play hopscotch. Saying the all the words they hop on to get to their token. But be careful as the word cards can be slippery!
* *This activity could also be done with blendable CVC or CVCC words.
|7- Bottle tops||Focus||Materials|
|Receptive & productive||Reviewing Sightwords***||bottle tops or stones, permanent marker, blank paper, marker, scissors|
- Select the words you want to work on and write these on paper slips. Alternatively, you could reuse the slips you made for Tricky word Slap. About 8-10 words will work.
- On the inside of each bottle top write the letters of the words you have selected and written on the paper slips.
- Space out the words so you child can see them. Say one of the words and get your child to select the correct paper slip. Get them to say the word.
- Now, let then pick up the bottle top letters that make up the word and place them underneath the paper slip, saying the word again.
- If you want to develop spelling skills, get them to record the word in their notebook. Get them to look at the word, say it, cover it, write it and then check it.
- To extend ask your child to write sentences with the word. Or if level -appropriate at the end challenge them to use as many tricky words as they can in one sentence!
***interesting fact: many of the most common words are sight words, which are not decodable. And some decodable words are called sight words because they are so common in text that we need the child to develop automaticity in recognising the words quickly!