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Guidance for Parents - Letters and Sounds Phase 3

Letters and Sounds – Parental Guidance for those who have children in Year One studying Phase Three phonics.


In Rhiwbeina Primary School we follow the DfES programme Letters and Sounds to deliver systematic phonics which enables your child to learn to read, write and spell.


Letters and Sounds is split into six phases and starts at phase one and finishes at phase six. Phase one begins in Nursery and it progresses through each phase until it reaches the end in Year 2.


In Year One we have been following phase three and working our way through the different aspects (as listed below). The activities can be found on pages 72-104 within the DfES Letters and Sounds document. The document can be downloaded from the following website 


What is Phase Three?

The objective of phase three is to teach the remaining letter sounds of the alphabet as well as digraphs (sounds made up of two letters) and trigraphs (sounds made up of three letters). Phase three is taught in the same way phase two is delivered but is a more extensive phase and takes approximately ten weeks to deliver. The letter sounds are introduced each week (listed below) making the letter sounds more achievable for children to learn and follows a set order so that they can word build with wider breadth. Please don’t be tempted to choose letters at random or teach out of sequence as it doesn’t allow them to always apply what they have learnt.

By the end of phase three children should be able to read and write confidently consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words and beginning to read some longer words by using a chunking method (splitting words up into manageable chunks) and spell them out where possible. They also learn more high frequency words (HFW) and ‘tricky words’ which you cannot sound out such as ‘put’ and ‘are’.


Phase 3

Sounds Introduced

HFW introduced

Week 1

j, v, w, x

off, can, had, back

Week 2

y, z, zz, qu

we, me, be, she, he

Week 3

sh, ch, th, ng

put, see

Week 4

ai, ee, oo, oa

was, will, with

Week 5

ar, or, igh, ur

my, for, too

Week 6

ow, oi, ear, er

you, this, that

Week 7

air, ure

they, then, them

Week 8

No new sounds

her, now

Week 9

No new sounds

all, look

Week 10

No new sounds

are, down


Phase three continues to build on developing blending and segmenting as introduced in phase one, but now extending it to longer words and sentence writing. If you would like more information on phase two, please see the Reception Home Learning page where parental guidance for phase two is given in this section.


Phase three often takes children two cycles before being ready to move onto phase four. There is a vast content for children to learn, but most importantly embed and use in a range of contexts. We call this the mastery phase where children fill in the gaps in their learning as well as rehearse and embed what they have learnt. It takes time and daily practice to be ready to move on. In Year One we have many children who can identify the sounds but are unable to apply them in a range of contexts. This is now the focus for children to use these sounds with accuracy in their writing as well as their reading.


What are High Frequency Words (HFWs) and why are they important?

As explained within the phase two guidance, high frequency words are words that are very common words, words that appear frequently within reading texts for example. Some high frequency words are ‘decodable’ meaning that they can be sounded out. Other HFWs are ‘tricky’ and means that children have to recognise them purely by sight. 


These are a very important part of phonics as they make up a large proportion of the words that they will read and write. It is often a common reason why it takes children longer to move to the next band level in reading between pink and red level books is related to HFW knowledge.


Children also need to be able to spell these words as they will use them in their writing regularly. If your child is able to read them then the expectation is that they need to then be able to write them. Children can often do this in isolation, however if you ask them to put it into a longer sentence as expected within phase three, spelling can often drop off unless these are embedded as they are busy learning how to construct longer sentences among applying other phonic knowledge.


What is Oral Blending and Segmenting?

Blending involves pulling together individual sounds within words.  Segmenting is breaking words down into individual sounds. 

These skills are essential in order for your child to read and write. It takes a lot of practise to master blending and segmenting both orally and with written words.  When learning to blend and segment a lot of modelling from the adult is required.  For example, when blending you as the adult would clearly say aloud the individual sounds s-a-t.  Then repeat again a little quicker, and again even quicker until the sounds become merged and a word can be heard. With segmenting you do the opposite. For example, say the cvc words such as ‘man’ aloud, then say the word very slowly as if you are stretching out and continue to do this until the individual sounds are clear.  Both blending and segmenting take a lot of practise but the great thing is that you can do it anywhere – at home or when you are out taking a walk. 


Within phase three children are now expected to not only blend and segment orally accurately and independently but to do this in their writing also.


What about Jolly Phonics?

We use Jolly Phonics to help teach your child the individual letter sounds in Nursery and continue this in Reception for phase two and three. We occasionally touch upon these within Year One, but the expectation is that by now children should know these.  As outlined every sound has a story, action and song. These can be found online and are a great way of helping children to learn and embed the letter sounds. Actions in particular play an important role when learning phonics.


The Jolly Phonic Songs can be found here:


Here is the list of actions:


Please note however that we do not follow the Jolly Phonics scheme, only the letter sound actions, stories and songs for introduction.


How is Letters and Sounds taught in Phase Three?

Your child is taught phonics daily through a well-planned and thorough twenty-minute input. The input is pacey and focuses on all children being active learners. Equipped with whiteboards and dry-wipe pens children can engage in phonics. Within each session they will always follow the same structure which is essential to learning phonics at this level.

A key difference in phase three is that children are now taught the difference between letter sounds and letter names. They are then taught both. With flashcards we would say ‘n’ (letter sound) or ‘n’ (letter name). Within the revisit and review section they can also sing the alphabet song whilst looking at an alphabet to help reinforce this.


Introduction – A quick outline of what the children will be learning and what you would like them to have learnt by the end of the phonics lesson.

Revisit and Review – Children need to consistently revisit the letter sounds they have learnt (this number of letter sounds increases as you add a set each week). Children also recap the HFWs that they have learnt.  Both of these are most commonly done through flashcards, making any corrections to pronunciations as they go.

Teach – Children are taught new HFWs at the beginning of the week and revisit these daily. They are then taught the new sounds of the day. On a Friday children recap using all the sounds that they have learnt this week and focus on any that are particularly challenging. They also are shown how to construct a sentence and the important features of sentence writing – capital letters, finger spaces, full stops and how to form a sentence that makes sense.

Practice – Children have time to practice what they have learnt. Children regularly use phoneme frames to help children understand how to make cvc words using their letter sounds learnt to date. Phoneme frames are particularly important in phase three so children understand how digraphs and trigraphs work. They can also play games such as ‘Countdown’ (page 86), ‘Matching words and pictures’ (page 87) and ‘Sentence substitution’ (page 86/104).

Apply – This is the last part of the session where children pull together what they have learnt new today with other skills taught. Children should work unassisted in order to allow them to think about and apply their knowledge. It is tempting to help, but you can do this when they have finished the task and talk about what went well and what they need to develop. Every week they will be required to write lengthier (minimum six-word) sentences and questions, or they could read sentences and captions. It is alternated throughout the week for variety and to maintain interest.


After phonics teaching has been taught children are given the opportunity to use different hands-on activities within the classroom both independently and supported that help to practise and embed what they have been taught. There is a link at the bottom of this page to Pinterest to help give lots of ideas of how you could do this if you would like to.


What can I do at home?

The most important thing to remember is to make whatever activities you do with your child fun, engaging and as hands-on as possible – you don’t need to sit at a table and complete worksheets to learn. In phase three you will find that there are plenty of worksheet-based activities available online that you can complete but the more engaging it can be the more effective the learning is that takes place. Play games that you may have at home for educational purposes focusing on using a range of language and identifying the cvc words, initial or last sounds in words to identify, use online resources (websites that you may like to use are listed below) and talk lots in whatever you do! Use the link at the bottom of the page.


Don’t forget to use the Letters and Sounds document, pages 72-104 which you can follow to help your child’s phonic learning at home during the Corona Virus outbreak. The document looks wordy – please don’t be put off by this! When you get to the activities these are broken down into small easy-to-read paragraphs. You can also adapt these ideas or use them to develop your own, but it is a great way to get started.


Please take a look at the ways in which we teach letter sounds to our children. It is a very common mistake that parents and caregivers teach children the letter names and capital letters, when in fact it must be the letter sounds and lowercase letters. The pronunciation is also an extremely common error, with many children also adding an -uh sound onto lots of letter sounds. As teachers we review our pronunciation throughout the year to ensure we don’t slip into bad phonic habits as it is so easily done. Take a look…we are sure some of the sounds may surprise you!


Where do I start during the Corona Virus Outbreak?

Take a look at the activities we will set for you each academic week on the website. We will also load the blending and segmenting sets weekly as your child would have had when in school every Friday until week seven which will help you practice words using the sounds sets taught to date. These are all set by your Year One teachers and will give you a good idea of what you could be doing with your child to support their phonics and they will give you any links you may need to deliver this at home where possible.


Use the Letters and Sounds document as a good resource bank. Follow the outline of a teaching session above if you feel able to do so following the letter sounds and HFWs given for the week by the Year One Teachers.


Look online – there are so many great interactive ideas for phase three phonics, including websites with games to help. Some of these have been listed below.  Please be careful though – American websites are plentiful but pronounce letter sounds inaccurately for the UK curriculum. Try to stick to UK sites where possible.


Websites you might like to try…


Twinkl – Twinkl are granting one month’s free access during the Corona Virus outbreak if you use the code ‘CVDTWINKLHELPS‘ when you sign up for an account. Please note that Rhiwbeina Primary School will not be liable for any costs incurred for using this site. This is not an endorsement, just a useful link to some valuable educational resources that you may like to access. Some of the Phase One resources are interactive games, others you can print off and use as games in the home.


Letters and Sounds – This website is free to access and supports the Letters and Sounds phonics program but is not the same as the phonics scheme we use. This simply provides resources to go with it.


Phonics Play – this can be used for free during the corona virus outbreak if you sign in using the username ‘march20’ and password ‘home’. Again, please note that Rhiwbeina Primary School will not be liable for any costs incurred for using this site. This is not an endorsement, just a useful link to some games.


Phonics BLOOM has interactive games you can use for free which supports Phase Three.


Topmarks website – this website puts up its own phonics games as well as links to other websites that they recommend, some of which are listed within the list.


Family Learning – children are able to play phonic games on this website but aren’t specific to phase three so please be careful when selecting resources from here that they are appropriate for the stage of learning your child is at.


You can access phonic games on ICTGames however these are the same as ‘family learning’ website where games aren’t specific to phase three.


Please don’t forget to use resources such as ‘Pinterest’ which have lots of different ideas to make phase three phonics as interesting and interactive as possible. As teachers we spent lots of time supplementing our phonics teaching with fun hands-on activities. These can keep your children busy and quite often can be made with basic materials found within the home. You don’t have to buy resources to make phonics engaging. The following links are not endorsements but examples available – there are plenty more if you type in ‘phonics phase 3’.