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Playfest Round-up: All about Phonics…

This is my first ‘guest post’ for playfest – and after having been a regular ‘playfester’ for nearly a year now I am quite honoured! I got into playfest through twitter ( I think it was the lure of chocolate as far as I can remember) but I have never looked back. As well as ‘meeting’ some genuinely lovely people, I have learnt so much and got so many new ideas to support learning through play at home! Getting the chance to talk to other like minded mums and dads, and bounce ideas around is invaluable… and I know if I’m ever stuck, I’ll get some great ideas back! Its also great to know that my ideas may be inspiring others! Win Win!

So, it has fallen on me to do a round up of the fabulous playfest chat that we have had this week – and for once I feel quite knowledgeable! Playfest this week was all about Early Phonics… and once again there was some fabulous chat, ideas and links that I hope to summarise for you now!

Lots of people were aware of Early years phonics… it seems that our children have bridged the home-school gap and told us all about the sounds they are learning at school, but for a lot of us it seemed very different to when we were at school and the differences between how we were taught to read and spell, and how it is done today became apparent!

Phonics was defined as…

‘a way of teaching reading… its based on the sounds of letters, groups of letters, and syllables. Letters (or graphemes) are the written representation of the phoneme (sound). … Children are basically learning letter sounds, children learn them with associated actions, to build up sounds in how the the letters join up into words and then ultimately use these sounds to forms words. Children seem to learn this in a multi-sensory way, listening, looking, speaking and sensory with actions.’

It seemed apparent that we were worried that children were being taught to spell wrong, concentrating on the phonetic spelling rather than the correct one. It was noted that it is not particularly ‘taught wrong’ but that the different ways of writing sounds (144 in total!!!) are taught over 6 phases, so as the children progress they learn all the different ways of representing different sounds, as well as being given the skills to try and choose the most likely spelling for that word. There are also ‘tricky words’ which the children have to learn, as they are not phonetically plausible.

Some playfesters were also concerned about the coverage of phonics in school, thinking it may go too fast and that for some children certain things needed reinforcing – whilst also being worried about making sure you took the same approach as your child’s school at home so as not to confuse the children by teaching different methods! The suggestion here was to speak to school and see exactly what approach they were taking – and that way any learning you did at home would complement and support even more!

Whatever the viewpoint, it was obvious through the chat that we all wanted to support our children’s learning at home – and we all seemed to have weird and wonderful ways of doing this, whether a game or an activity!

Playfest came up with some FAB ideas for supporting phonics education at home through play:

  • Singing – rhymes, songs and the alphabet song!
  • Vtech – their laptops came highly recommended!
  • Leapfrog – particularly the ‘My First Leaptop’, ‘Scribble and Write’  and the ‘Fridge Phonics’
  • Magnetic letters ( used on the fridge to spell and create words and find sounds – great for lots of little activities!)
  • Bottle tops with letters on to turn over and sound out and also create words with
  • Finding matching sounds in books
  • Making word cards
  • Foam letters and bath crayons in the bath
  • Playing i-spy… starting with saying the sound and progressing the the letter name!
  • Hopscotch – but with letters rather than numbers!
  • Ping pong balls with letters on – use a fishing net to scoop out and say the sound or make a word!
  • Orchard toys – Alphabet lotto (lots of scope for phonics play!)

Playfest also came up with a lot of free and easily accessible resources to use at home!

Maybe the resource that came the top of the recommendations was the Alphablocks... children get to learn all about phonics and blending and segmenting sounds from these 26 very cute alphabet characters which come to life! They are great for us too as they help us to pronounce the sounds correctly!

It may be all change from when we all learnt to read and write… but with the ideas and resources that were shared through both twitter and facebook I think it is clear we are all keen to support our children!

Kate x

@yummymumto2 /

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One Response to “Playfest Round-up: All about Phonics…”

  1. Al Boxall-Gordon
    February 12, 2012 at 11:10 pm #


    Just to say well done and thank you on creating your first guest post :o ) It’s great.

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