Wilbur and Flops' essentials for home phonics for children in reception
It's very likely that, for at least the last half term, your child's teacher has been sending you 'home learning tasks' ranging from a website to access, to a full lesson plan. If your child is not returning to school after the half term break, this may not continue, varying from school to school. If you are trying to establish a daily phonics lesson at home, the ideas and resources in this post might help. It's important to remember that as parents, we all have good days and bad! Exposure to literature and language is better than nothing at all, so on the bad days, don't worry about the technical side of phonics and the turmoil of trying to get your child to write just one word when all they want to do is watch TV; share a story and that's the best thing you can do.
On the good days, your child might be happy to do some or all of the aspects included in the sample menu shown here. Perhaps they'll go for a full phonics, reading and writing meal all in one go, or maybe they'd prefer to nibble throughout the day, whenever there's a gap in your schedule and theirs! The resources suggested are linked at the bottom, some to purchase and some with free access.
Daily phonics, reading and writing menu
Starter: sound cards
If your child is willing (our own children tend not to be as willing at home as they are at school), a run through the sounds they have been taught so far is a good start to your phonics time each day. You can teach a new sound, when you feel your child is ready. Your child's school may have information on their website about the order in which they teach the sounds. If you're not sure, send a quick email to ask them, or an email to Wilbur and Flops and I can help.
Main course: words
Next, use magnetic letters to build words using the sounds your child knows, and one or two new ones you're introducing, and sound these out together. Make up non-words, too. These are sometimes known as alien words, made up words or pseudo words and they appear in the phonics screening check when children are reaching the end of year one. Write a few words together in pencil or felt tip pen. (Felt tips glide easily on the paper and make writing easier).
Try a few tricky words as a side dish! See the links below.
I use the Read Write Inc magnetic letters as they are very clear but you could use any. Don't worry about a fancy board to stick them on - use the fridge door or a baking tray!
Dessert: writing sentences
Write sentences together, both sensible and silly, to practise the words you have been sounding out and a couple of the tricky words. Point out the capital letter at the start and full stop at the end. Change your child's pen colour and ask your child to check their spellings, making their own corrections, as if they are the teacher. You could write sentences with purposeful mistakes for them to find if they are less keen to write their own.
Coffee and mints: reading together
This might happen at any time of day: before you get up, as a break from chores and other tasks, or at bedtime. Share a story, developing comprehension without asking your child to read every word. Perhaps he or she could read some of the high frequency words you've been working on, or they could try to read the first sentence or first page. Keep stories relaxed and fun: say any words they don't recognise, rather than making it hard work. Repeat the same stories and play around with the voices.
For your child to read independently, it's important to have access to some phonetically decodable books using the sounds they have learnt so far. The Oxford Owl website can help with this for free. See below.
Letter cards/sound cards (graphemes are sounds written down)
Whatever scheme your child's school uses, the sounds that letters make are the same. I recommend using a set of Read Write Inc cards for your daily read through but you could make your own. Whether you look at the pictures on one side of these cards or just the letters, they are extremely useful when you have a flick through them every day. The first set contains those that children in reception will have been taught by now, and children in nursery may have started to learn some of the sounds that the individual letters represent. The second set contains many alternatives and a wider range of sounds that you can add to your daily sounds pile, if your child knows them, or you can teach one sound per day, every few days, or every week. Follow the links below to purchase the packs of sound cards:
Pack one (single letter sounds plus ch, sh and th)
Pack two (alternative spellings of sounds plus many new sounds)
Magnetic letters (use to build words to sound out)
Green word cards (these can be sounded out when your child knows the individual sounds and can blend these into words orally)
High frequency words (the words we use the most often) *FREE*
At school, children will be taught to read 'tricky words' which are also known as 'common exception words.' These words don't always follow the sounding out rules and children need to learn to read them on-sight. It can take seeing the word as many as 100 times or more until children recognise them so don't despair if it takes a while to learn a few! The high frequency words contain some of the common exception words and are very helpful in increasing reading fluency as children start to recognise them without having to sound them out.
Year one and two common exception words (from the national curriculum) can be found here (not a reception expectation)
Alphabet strips *FREE*
Having one of these on the table can help to check for corresponding capital letters when writing these at the start of sentences and for names.
There's information in an earlier blog post about pencil grip but here are my favourites for developing the correct grasp:
Websites and apps *FREE*
I'm not a big fan of apps for children but the most useful app I have used with my own daughter is Teach Your Monster to Read. An app can never replace the value of sharing books but it can help to consolidate learning.
There are lots of free ebooks on the Oxford Owl website and it is free to sign up for a parent account and read online. Choose your child's age and stage. Try different stages if one seems too easy or too hard.
To avoid 'LMNOP' becoming one long blur, try this alphabet song:
Classes are available with Wilbur and Flops on Saturdays for reception children and these will continue to be online in the summer term of 2020. Email email@example.com for more information.