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Part 4 – Helpful hints

More helpful hints are provided, such as silent blending, long vowels, letter names etc.

Part 4: Helpful hints

 

Here are some helpful hints for Step 3.

  • Hint 1: Keep practising the new and previously taught letter sounds regularly [demonstration], as well as blending and segmenting words that use these letter sounds. Remember that each time a new letter sound is introduced, more words become available.

 

  • Hint 2: Encourage the children to blend unknown words silently in their heads. You can do this by pointing to letters on the board. Ask the children to work the word out as you point to the letters and to put up their hands if they know the word. Then ask a child for the answer [demonstration]. This silent blending encourages the children to say the word straight away and develops fluency in reading. As usual, keep the sessions fast flowing and short.

 

  • Hint 3: First encourage the reading and writing of phrases, making sure all the letter sounds used have been taught, and then progress to reading and writing sentences. If this is given for homework, either as reading or as writing words from dictation, make sure the homework is only given to the children who have the necessary skills to do it. The aim of the homework is to bring fluency to the skills.

 

  • Hint 4: The children previously learnt that the /a, e, i, o, u/ letter sounds are short vowels. Now they can be taught that the sounds /ai, ee, ie, oa, ue/ are long vowels. As with these spellings, two letters are almost always needed to make a long vowel sound. This knowledge becomes more useful later on. At this stage, it is just a question of making the children familiar with the short and long vowels and encouraging them to try both when working out an awkward word, such as the tricky words he, she, me, we and be. Further details on how the vowels work is provided on the home page, in the section Phonic knowledge, under the heading Vowels – how they work.

 

  • Hint 5: It is worth starting to teach letter names at this stage. Singing an alphabet song is a helpful start. The children need to know that the names are a grown-up way of talking about letters. Try and go over the letters with the children, saying the names, at a time when phonics is not being taught; we do not want to muddle the children and have them saying the letter names when trying to blend a word. It is important that they understand that only the letter sounds are needed for reading and writing and not the letter names.

 

  • Hint 6: Keep in mind how important reading books are to the children: They develop their language skills, vocabulary and comprehension. Encourage an interest and love of books by providing a varied selection that the children will enjoy looking at. Many of the children will start finding words that they can now read on their own, using their newly acquired decoding skills; this is great and very satisfying for the teacher and children. However, it is very different to being given a book and then being expected to read it to a parent or guardian. When this kind of reading is needed and expected by teachers and parents, it is important to use decodable readers. This gives the children important blending practice and prevents reading problems developing.

 

  • Hint 7: A question that is often asked: What happens if a child picks up reading at home naturally, or has been taught how to read at home, before starting school? It can happen, particularly in certain areas, although it rarely happened in the school where I was teaching. When it did, I welcomed it and would ask those children to read a book I had chosen, making sure it was age appropriate. If they could do this easily with a reasonable amount of fluency, I would give them a reading test and find out their reading age. Those children would then be given books suitable for their reading age, to take home and read to their parents or guardians. I would still want them to be taught synthetic phonics along side the other children, mostly because it is needed for spelling and for reading longer and more complex words, but also because they would want to join in with the rest of the class. If follow-up activities were too easy for the children who could already read, they would be given reading and comprehension activities instead.

 

So, in conclusion, the aim in Step 3 is for every child to:

 

  • learn the new 12 letter sounds, as well as revise the previous letter sounds,
  • blend words that use the 12 new and previous letter sounds,
  • write letter sounds and words from dictation,
  • learn 20 tricky words (both for reading and writing),
  • read and write words, phrases and sentences,
  • start reading decodable books (as long as they are good enough at blending words),
  • and be given support if there are problems with these skills.

 

Guidance on this last point can be found in the section Help with reading and writing problems, found on the homepage. This concludes the teaching in Step 3.

  • Step 3 - Letter Sounds

    The next 12 letter sounds taught in Step 3 are provided. They can be used as flash cards to help the children remember the sounds linked to the letters or for word building.

  • Step 3 - Letter Sounds - print letters

    The next 12 letter sounds taught in Step 3 are provided. They can be used as flash cards to help the children remember the sounds linked to the letters or for word building.

  • Step 3 - Letter Formation - b&w

    On these sheets the children are able to practise forming the next 12 letters correctly by following the dots.

  • Step 3 - Letter Formation - colour

    On these sheets the children are able to practise forming the next 12 letters correctly by following the dots.

  • Step 3 - Letter Formation - bw - roint letters

    On these sheets the children are able to practice forming the next 12 letters correctly by following the dots.

  • Step 3 - Letter Formation - color - print letters

    On these sheets the children are able to practice forming the next 12 letters correctly by following the dots.

  • Step 3 - 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 3 - 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 3 - Phrases - b&w

    The Step 3 phrases can be printed on card, cut up and used for reading practice. They are slightly more challenging than reading single words. It helps to prepare the children for reading sentences.

  • Step 3 - Phrases - colour

    The Step 3 phrases can be printed on card, cut up and used for reading practice. They are slightly more challenging than reading single words. It helps to prepare the children for reading sentences.

  • Step 3 - Phrases - b&w - print letters

    The Step 3 phrases can be printed on card, cut up and used for reading practice. They are slightly more challenging than reading single words. It helps to prepare the children for reading sentences.

  • Step 3 - Phrases - color - print letters

    The Step 3 phrases can be printed on card, cut up and used for reading practice. They are slightly more challenging than reading single words. It helps to prepare the children for reading sentences.

  • Step 3 - Tricky Words - reading - b&w

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. They can be blended but give the wrong pronunciation. The children have to remember the correct pronunciation and learn the unusual letter-sound correspondences.

  • Step 3 - Tricky Words - reading - colour

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. They can be blended but give the wrong pronunciation. The children have to remember the correct pronunciation and learn the unusual letter-sound correspondences.

  • Step 3 - Tricky Words - reading - b&w - print letters

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. They can be blended but give the wrong pronunciation. The children have to remember the correct pronunciation and learn the unusual letter-sound correspondences.

  • Step 3 - Tricky Words - reading - color - print letters

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. They can be blended but give the wrong pronunciation. The children have to remember the correct pronunciation and learn the unusual letter-sound correspondences.

  • Step 3 - Tricky Words - writing - b&w

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. The children have to learn the awkward part for spelling. These sheets allow the children to practise writing the tricky words, using the Look, Cover, Write & Check method.

  • Step 3 - Tricky Words - writing - colour

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. The children have to learn the awkward part for spelling. These sheets allow the children to practise writing the tricky words, using the Look, Cover, Write & Check method.

  • Step 3 - Tricky Words - writing - b&w - print letters

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. The children have to learn the awkward part for spelling. These sheets allow the children to practise writing the tricky words, using the Look, Cover, Write & Check method.

  • Step 3 - Tricky Words - writing - color - print letters

    Tricky Words are frequently used words that either use alternative spellings that have not been taught yet or they are irregular. The children have to learn the awkward part for spelling. These sheets allow the children to practise writing the tricky words, using the Look, Cover, Write & Check method.

  • Step 3 - Question Sentences

    It is important to give children reading material that they can decode for themselves. Often they feel that books are too hard for them. These Question Sentences can help to fill the gap. They are sometimes amusing and provide another source of reading practice.

  • Step 3 - Question Sentences - print letters

    It is important to give children reading material that they can decode for themselves. Often they feel that books are too hard for them. These Question Sentences can help to fill the gap. They are sometimes amusing and provide another source of reading practice.

  • Step 3 - Sentences

    These sentences use the 42 letter sounds and tricky words 1-20. They provide more reading practice. Use in a similar way to the Question Sentences.

  • Step 3 - Sentences - print letters

    These sentences use the 42 letter sounds and tricky words 1-20. They provide more reading practice. Use in a similar way to the Question Sentences.

  • Step 3 - 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. The words build up progressively until all 12 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 3 - 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. The words build up progressively until all 12 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 3 - 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. The words build up progressively until all 12 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 3 - 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. The words build up progressively until all 12 letter sounds are used.

  • Step 3 - Dictation Sentences

    These sentences use the 42 letter sounds and tricky words 1 - 20. The children write the sentences from dictation either in the classroom or at home.