Phonics is a method of teaching spelling by focusing on the sounds in a word. Children need to be able to hear and break words into sounds and then learn the letter patterns that make these sounds. For example, the long “a” sound can be made with eleven different letter patterns:

  • ai as in gain
  • ay as in play
  • a_e as in state
  • ea as in great
  • a as in lady
  • ei as in rein
  • ey as in they
  • eigh as in eight
  • aigh as in straight
  • et as in bouquet
  • au as in gauge

Use magnetic letters to teach your child phonics

Magnetic letters are a great resource for teaching phonics. They allow children to physically manipulate letters to better understand how words can be separated into sounds.

They also allow children to make connections between words according to sounds. For example, if a child is able to identify the long “a” sound in “rain”, it will help them to spell words like: train, nail, snail.





Below is an insert from the School Start Handbook (part of the School Start Buddy) which explains where to begin teaching your child phonics and outlines a simple activity using the resources inside the School Start Buddy.





Incorporate learning phonics with learning to read sight words

When teaching your child to read sight words, write each word onto card and alternate the colour for each sound. Refer to the picture below.

By alternating the colour of the sounds in words, you will help your child to recognise common letter patterns and the corresponding sounds they make.

When teaching your child to read a sight word, use the magnetic letters to make connections with other words that have the same letter pattern or sound.

Teaching phonics in a meaningful way

Having a whiteboard and magnetic letters displayed while listening to your child read allows you to spontaneously teach phonics. Two useful techniques are:

Making connections between words

If the unknown word is “would”, use the magnetic letters to make the word “could”. Say to your child, ‘This word says “could”. If I take the “c” away and add the letter “w”, what does it say?’


Breaking words into sounds

If the unknown word is “about”, place the magnetic letters on the whiteboard one sound at a time -“a-b-ou-t”. Ask your child to read each sound separately and then join them together to read the word.

I hope that I have made phonics easy and fun for you and your child.

Have f-u-n!

Sharona Edwards


Here are some related blog articles for teaching your child to write:

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