Rationale: So how does Fabulous Phonics work?
It's about total immersion in learning letter sounds by linking all the activities in the environment. The first thing to do is capture interest: We have some children whose spoken language is not well developed and others who have English as their second language. I’ll teach three letters a week. Each letter will get a whole day devoted to it. So the children will do everything with that letter, special songs, rhymes and stories, eating food that begins with that letter for snack, other multi-sensory activities and active learning outside. I’ll use the sound boxes of tiny toys for every letter and sound – so in the 'A box' the children will play with ants, ambulances, astronaut figures and so on. I’ll link in our mathematics story and number, in addition to our physical (real PE) story and unit with the theme of the week to support phonics teaching.
Instead of covering a topic in the first term I will have weekly themes, designed around the phonics teaching of three letters a week. It's systematic synthetic phonics but with a twist. So that first week it's snakes, ants and tigers... and a jungle theme emerges. We eat strawberries and apples, all our songs and books are based on the letters and the language will reappear in their play. The children will take something they have made home every week, for example snake spirals at the end of week one.
At end of every week, children will do a 'Big Write'. During the week, children will make a picture about the theme and by Friday, each child has a picture mounted on A3 paper, with space to write their sentence below. These 'Big Writes' will be collected into their mark making folders, showing how we first learned to write.
To help the children become confident with their sounds we shall be learning the letters, three per week, through the letters and sounds programme. We will use Jolly Phonics actions and sounds to introduce the children to letters. Please help your child by practising the sound and the action alongside the visual representation on the flashcard. Please log in to and use the school website to hear the alphabet letters being sounded out as we are teaching them, as well as the vowel digraphs and consonant digraphs that we will be moving onto after we have completed the alphabet.
It will also help your child greatly if you could complete the scrap books by cutting and sticking pictures from magazines/ the internet that begin with the letter we are working on. I shall send home the scrap book each Friday with the letters we have been working on and collect them in again on Wednesday. This is so I can have a look and see how they are getting on and reward their hard work with stamps and smiley faces!
Some children already know their sounds, if this is the case with your child then please still practise the sound, but instead of cutting and sticking you could get your child to start sounding out words and record them in the scrap book.
To support this learning, your child will also be bringing home their first reading book. These books are picture books with a sound focus on each page. Your child is at the ‘getting ready to read’ stage and we ask that you read with your child at least three times a week to build up their confidence. This can be a single page or the whole book. The children are immersed in sounds at school and hopefully this will continue at home through the sharing of their reading book.
How to support your child at this stage:
- Enjoy sharing and talking about books
- Help them to recognise their own name
- Help them to recognise some letter sounds e.g. some of the sounds in their name
- Model a narrative for each page using story telling language. As you talk, ask your child questions to add detail to the story. Eventually the children will want to tell you a story about what is happening on each page.
At this stage your child’s reading relies on the following:
- Memory: Don’t be concerned if your child seems to be memorising rather than reading (please don’t cover up the picture, use it to talk about and identify characters, events and settings and ask questions to develop observational skills)
- Seeing and Hearing: In order to recognise individual words and letters in reading, children need to be good at identifying things that are the same or different. Draw attention to the starting sound of a word and then ask them to find another word beginning with the same letter sound or think of a word that rhymes (so that it will be a different sound at the start).
Thank you for your support.
Talk 4 Writing
Talk for Writing, developed by Pie Corbett, supported by Julia Strong, is powerful because it is based on the principles of how children learn. It is powerful because it enables children to imitate the language they need for a particular topic orally before reading and analysing it and then writing their own version.
The approach has dramatically improved pupil happiness, confidence and skill in writing, reading and speaking. As our children have built a bank of language, including vocabulary, their desire to write and read has also improved.
If you would like to see Talk 4 Writing 'in action' in the Early Years, please do come to our Harvest workshop where you can see Reception actively learning using this approach in our 'Little Red Hen' story.
We have decided to follow the Singaporean approach to mathematics in Reception to match the rest of our school. We have created a syllabus in line with Development Matters using the Maths No Problem and Early Bird Kindergarten resources, creating a plan for our reception children that align with the rest of the school.
We also take part in daily number sessions which are introduced on a Monday through stories, songs, games and imaginative play. The children particularly enjoy watching the 'numberblocks' series. During which the children develop their mathematical understanding. One number and concept are focused on each week.
We learn to form these numbers through 'Ten Town' rhymes.