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Part 1 – Introduction of 18 letter sounds

An introduction to the 18 letter sounds taught in Step 1. Detailed guidance is provided for teaching the first three letter sounds, how to form them correctly and blend words that use them.

Part 1: Introducing the first 18 letter sounds

 

The teaching in Step 1 is relatively straightforward. There are basically four main aims and they are to teach the children:

 

  • the first 18 letter sounds, making sure that each child learns them very well,
  • how to write the 18 letters correctly,
  • how to blend words that use the 18 letters,
  • and how to write words that use the 18 letter sounds.

 

These 18 letter sounds are taught one after the other in the following groups. There are six letter sounds in each group:

 

  • Group 1: s a t i p n
  • Group 2: c k e h r m d
  • Group 3: g o u l f b

 

For reading, the children need to know that when they see the letters they have to say the relevant sounds [demonstration]. Of course, it is important to start at the beginning with the first letter sound, which is /s/. As soon as the children see ‹s›, they have to say /s/.

 

For writing, the children need to be shown how to form the letters correctly, whether they are being shown on the board (saying, for example, “to write /s/, go up to the dotted line, round, then when you are under where you started go round again”), or are writing on paper (following the dots to guide the formation and then trying on their own, starting on the dot and saying the sound). Writing the letters and saying the sounds at the same time helps the children to remember them.

 

However, before the children even start to write, it is well worth teaching them how to hold their pencil. This does not come naturally and the children need to be shown how to do it. I used to get the children to wiggle their fingers, hide two of them, with the pencil going between the thumb and the first finger, and the third finger stopping it from falling on the ground. The children’s writing hand would rest on the table and the aim was to make the movement come from the fingers. It is very important to get the knuckles going out and it is the same grip whether a child is right-handed or left-handed.

 

We know that bad habits are very difficult to get rid of, and that is particularly true with letter formation and pencil hold, which is why it is so important to get it right from the beginning, whether the children are at home or at school.

 

Next the children need to know the letter sound /a/. It is formed in a very similar way to /s/: It goes up to the dotted line but, instead of wiggling round, it goes right round and up to the top and down again [demonstration].

 

Some schools use print letters, without the joining tail. It does not matter which style is used; it is just a matter of personal preference. On this website, the free materials have been provided in both styles.

 

The next letter sound is /t/ (so we now have /s/, /a/ and /t/). This /t/ is a tall letter and needs to start a bit higher than the dotted line. It goes down past the dots to the writing line, round, and then the stick goes across on the dots [demonstration].

 

Now is an interesting time, because we can start to teach the children how to read words by blending the letter sounds and listening for the words. At this stage there are only two suitable words that use the three letter sounds and they are sat and at. The children need to be shown how to blend the words: /s-a-t/, sat and /a-t/, at [demonstration]. It helps the children to hear the word if the first sound is said a little louder and the others are whispered quickly afterwards: /s-a-t/, sat.

 

It also works well to demonstrate it the first time, then encourage the children to do it with you, and then for them to do it by themselves. This type of activity provides the necessary repetition that is needed for developing the skill of blending.

 

  • Step 1 - Letter Sounds

    The first 18 letter sounds taught in Step 1. They can be used as flash cards to help the children remember the sounds linked to the letters or for word building practice.

  • Step 1 - Letter Sounds - print letters

    On these sheets the children are able to practise forming the first 18 letters correctly by following the dots.

  • Step 1 - Letter Formation - bw

    On these sheets the children are able to practise forming the first 18 letters correctly by following the dots.

  • Step 1 - Letter Formation - colour

    On these sheets the children are able to practise forming the first 18 letters correctly by following the dots.

  • Step 1 - Letter Formation - b&w - print letters

    On these sheets the children are able to practice forming the first 18 letters correctly by following the dots.

  • Step 1 - Letter Formation - color- print letters

    On these sheets the children are able to practice forming the first 18 letters correctly by following the dots.

  • Step 1 - Word Bank

    The words from the Word Bank can be printed on coloured card, cut up and used for blending practice. As each new letter sound is taught then more words become available for blending.

  • Step 1 - Word Bank - print letters

    The words from the Word Bank can be printed on colored card, cut up and used for blending practice. As each new letter sound is taught then more words become available for blending.

  • Step 1 - Dictation Words - b&w

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 1 - Dictation Words - colour

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 1 - Dictation Words - b&w - print letters

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 1 - Dictation Words - color - print letters

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 1 - Writing Sheet - narrow lines - b&w

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 1 - Writing Sheet - narrow lines - colour

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 1 - Writing Sheet - wide lines - b&w

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 1 - Writing Sheet - wide lines - colour

    These words have been carefully selected. The children should be able to spell the dictated words correctly by listening for the sounds in the words and writing letters to represent the sounds. They progressively build up until all 18 letter sounds are used.