Phase 1 Phonics Activities for Preschoolers

Alice Spencer & Abbie Chisnall, Founders of Play Makes Sense
26th July 2023

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Are there children in your setting who are starting school this September? If so, then continue reading.

You may be tempted to dive straight into teaching them the letters of the alphabet, but please DO NOT! Instead, stop what you are doing and read this blog!

Before children are ready to start learning letter sounds they need to develop phonological awareness.

Children need to develop the ability to listen to and hear different sounds, as well as explore how sounds can be made, put together and broken down. Children usually develop these skills between the ages of three and five years old. Phonological awareness provides them with a strong foundation, enabling them to become confident readers and passionate writers.

Phonological awareness skills are split into seven aspects:

  • Environmental sounds – exploring and discussing the sounds they can hear around them
  • Instrumental sounds – playing and listening to instruments and making different sounds
  • Body percussion – developing awareness of sounds and rhythms they can make with their bodies
  • Rhythm and rhyme – identifying words that rhyme
  • Alliteration – recognising words that have the same starting sound
  • Voice sounds – exploring vocal sounds and beginning to orally blend and segment
  • Oral blending and segmenting -being able to put the sounds together to say a word as well as split them up, e.g. s-i-t is sit.

Here are three simple, meaningful and engaging activities from our Phase 1 Phonics Pack. Try these with the children in your setting and have fun together, whilst also developing their phonological awareness.

Drum Disco – environmental sounds

Invite the children to have a drum disco with you. Give the children a stick or wooden spoon and find objects to drum on. Ask them to drum in different ways each time, e.g. loudly, quietly, quickly or slowly.

Challenge: Beat a rhythm and ask the children to copy the rhythm back to you.

Rhyme hunt – rhythm and rhyme

Gather together five pairs of rhyming objects and two trays. Put an object in one tray and its rhyming partner in the other tray. Repeat with all the objects and cover with rice. Explain to the children that rhyming words end with the same sound. Ask the children to hunt in the tray to find an object. Can they find its rhyming partner in the other tray?

Top tip- Here are some suggestions for rhyming pairs: dog and frog, duck and truck, cat and hat, hen and ten, bee and tree.

Challenge: Can they think of any other words that rhyme with each pair?

Sound-talk tea party – oral blending and segmenting

Set up a teddy bears’ tea party including items such as a tea set, food, plates and cutlery. Explain that you are going to have a tea party but the teddies can only speak in sound-talk. Ask the children to help you to understand what the teddy bears are asking for. “Please can I have some j-a-m?” Can the children blend the sounds together to make the word and give the teddy bear some jam?

Top tip- Here are some suggestions for food items: apple, cake, cheese, jam, tea.

Challenge: Ask the children questions about the tea party. Can they respond to the questions in sound-talk?

Which activity are you tempted to set up first?

To find out more about our activity cards, visit our website or follow us on Instagram.

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