Developing Phonics Skills

We all know the pressure of the Year 1 phonics test and how as the year progresses the tension mounts…so how does an enabling environment focused on child-led play help you and the children prepare you may ask?

As well as the traditional daily phonics session – which is well documented, our approach allows opportunities for children to consolidate their learning. I have available on the laptops in the classroom online phonics games to play that the children love. In fact, they love them so much there was a constant queue! So here was an opportunity for writing and maths. I made a list for turns on the computer and the children sign in. They use a 5-minute sand timer and turn it over twice. Thus they are only on for 10 minutes then the next person takes their turn. They are encouraged to extend their learning in another area of the classroom and can only go back on once 4 other people have had a turn e.g. not for another 40 minutes.

I have found this really useful because it gives me a list of who is accessing the laptops and how often.

As well as the laptops I offer 2 or 3 enhancements to the environment a week. Sometimes more depending on the children’s engagement. This week we have had the tricky words from phases 2,3,4 and 5 (on separate word mats – can be downloaded from Twinkl)written so small you need a magnifying glass to read them.  Also, a 1-minute sand timer to use with a whiteboard and pen, How many words can they write in a 1 minute? – We use the Ikea Tolsby frames to write my challenges on.

Image result for tolsby ikea

I have put a piece of white card in the middle and I can write on them on both sides using a whiteboard pen. Quick easy and they can see handwriting!


Outside we love to use chalk and I’d say with the move to astroturf everything, think about leaving some playground areas for writing. This is always popular both during phonics sessions and continuous provision time.

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