Phonics at St Michael’s Church School
At St Michaels, we are invested in encouraging a love of books and reading, with children ‘learning to read, to read to learn’.
In teaching children to ‘learn to read’ in Reception and early Key Stage One, we follow the StoryTime Phonics Programme, a systematic synthetic phonics reading programme that complements Letters and Sounds (DfE, 2007).
StoryTime Phonics is a whole class phonics approach that uses storytelling and real books at the heart of the programme. All children in Reception and Year 1 have daily phonic sessions based on this programme.
Each new sound that the children learn is embedded within the context of a real book, books created by some of the best-loved authors and phenomenal illustrators to instil a sense of awe, wonder and imagination in children.
Each story is read by the Phonic Fairy herself in the Magical Moment Film and each sound has a ‘caption action’ linked to the story so children remember and relate the sound directly to the book. The children also learn how to form the sound, with the Phonic Fairy modelling the letters using her magic pencil wand to create the ‘Sparkle Mark’.
As the children become more confident with the individual sounds, they begin to recognise these in words and blend these together to read the words. They also practise their skills of segmenting, breaking down words into the sounds they can hear to spell the word.
We endeavour to make each phonic experience as memorable and magical as possible for the children, dressing up as characters from the books, using props and real life objects from the storybooks, using the outside environment and using a multi-sensory approach to practise forming the sounds in many different resources to make it as hands on as possible.
The Tricky Troll also helps us learn our tricky words as he likes to trick us by asking us to read and write words which we cannot use our sounds for. In Reception and Year 1, we learn a new Tricky Troll Word each week and our Tricky Troll often checks our writing to see if the tricky words are spelt correctly.
In preparation for the Year 1 Phonics Screening at the end of Year 1, we begin to recognise alien/nonsense words that contain all the sounds we have learnt in Reception and Year 1. Beegu is an alien character from the brilliant story “Beegu” by Alexis Deacon and helps us understand that some words we might need to read using our phonic knowledge are made up so that Beegu can communicate with her family.
The Year 1 Phonics Screening Check is a short, light-touch assessment as outlined by the Department for Education that all Year 1 children must participate in in the Summer Term. The check aims to confirm whether the children have learnt phonic decoding skills to an appropriate standard and helps teachers identify children who need extra support to improve their reading skills.
In Reception and Year 1, we also hold a weekly ‘Friday Family Fun Phonics’ session where parents, grandparents, carers and siblings are invited into the classrooms at 2.30 to see what sounds and tricky words we have been learning that week, take part in some of our exciting phonics games and activities and learn how best to support your child in learning to read.