Learning to Read

Learning to read starts with phonics instruction as it is essential in helping children develop reading and writing skills. This guide outlines the progression from basic listening skills to advanced reading comprehension and writing, ensuring a solid foundation for literacy.

Phase 1: Developing Listening Skills

Environmental Sounds

To begin with, children start by recognizing sounds in their environment, such as birds chirping or cars honking. For instance, activities like sound walks can enhance this skill, encouraging kids to identify and discuss the sounds they hear around them.

Instrumental Sounds

Next, introducing children to different sounds made by instruments helps them differentiate between various types of auditory stimuli. For example, playing a sound-matching game with instruments like drums, bells, and whistles can be engaging and educational.

Body Percussion

Then, kids learn to make sounds using their bodies, such as clapping, stamping, or clicking their tongues. This not only develops their listening skills but also enhances coordination and rhythm.

Rhythm and Rhyme

Recognizing and creating rhyming words are crucial skills. Singing nursery rhymes and playing rhyming games help children understand patterns in sounds and words.

For example:

  • Nursery Rhymes: Sing classic rhymes like “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.”
  • Rhyming Games: Play games where children have to find words that rhyme with given words, like “cat” and “bat.”


Identifying words that start with the same sound can be practiced through tongue twisters and alliterative storytelling, making learning fun and interactive.

For example:

  • Tongue Twisters: Practice phrases like “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.”
  • Alliterative Stories: Create stories where every word in a sentence starts with the same letter.

Voice Sounds

Children also learn to differentiate between sounds made with the voice, such as whispers, shouts, and different vocal pitches. Consequently, voice modulation games can be very effective in this area.

Oral Blending and Segmenting

Blending sounds to form words and segmenting words into individual sounds are foundational skills for reading. As a result, activities like ‘robot talk’ (saying words in a segmented manner) help children practice these skills.

For example:

  • Blending Sounds: Say the sounds “c-a-t” and have children blend them to form “cat.”
  • Segmenting Words: Give children a word like “dog” and ask them to break it into individual sounds: “d-o-g.”

Phase 2: Beginning to Read and Write

In Phase 2 of phonics instruction, children begin to read and write by learning specific sets of letters and their corresponding sounds. Here are detailed examples for each set of letters, including activities and sample words.

Set 1 Letters: s, a, t, p

Examples and Activities:

  1. Letter Recognition:
    • Flashcards: Show cards with the letters s, a, t, and p.
    • Alphabet Songs: Sing songs that emphasize these letters.
  2. Sound Association:
    • Sound Games: Play games where children identify objects that start with s (snake), a (apple), t (tiger), and p (pig).
  3. Word Building:
    • Simple Words: sat, pat, tap, sap.
    • Sentence Example: “The cat sat on the mat.”

Set 2 Letters: i, n, m, d

Examples and Activities:

  1. Letter Recognition:
    • Flashcards: Introduce cards with i, n, m, and d.
    • Writing Practice: Have children practice writing these letters.
  2. Sound Association:
    • Sound Hunt: Find objects that begin with i (insect), n (nose), m (moon), and d (dog).
  3. Word Building:
    • Simple Words: tin, pin, mad, dim.
    • Sentence Example: “The man sat in the dim room.”

Set 3 Letters: g, o, c, k

Examples and Activities:

  1. Letter Recognition:
    • Flashcards: Introduce g, o, c, and k.
    • Alphabet Bingo: Use a bingo game with these letters.
  2. Sound Association:
    • Sound Stories: Create stories with g (goat), o (octopus), c (cat), and k (kite).
  3. Word Building:
    • Simple Words: cat, cog, kid, got.
    • Sentence Example: “The cat got a big kick.”

Set 4 Letters: ck, e, u, r

Examples and Activities:

  1. Letter Recognition:
    • Flashcards: Show ck, e, u, and r.
    • Letter Tracing: Have children trace these letters in sand or with finger paint.
  2. Sound Association:
    • Sound Matching: Match pictures to sounds like ck (duck), e (elephant), u (umbrella), r (rabbit).
  3. Word Building:
    • Simple Words: duck, neck, red, rug.
    • Sentence Example: “The red duck sat on the rug.”

Set 5 Letters: h, b, f, ff, l, ll, ss

Examples and Activities:

  1. Letter Recognition:
    • Flashcards: Introduce h, b, f, ff, l, ll, and ss.
    • Hopscotch: Create a hopscotch grid with these letters.
  2. Sound Association:
    • Sound Scavenger Hunt: Look for items that begin with h (hat), b (ball), f (fish), ff (cuff), l (lamp), ll (bell), ss (glass).
  3. Word Building:
    • Simple Words: hat, bell, puff, hiss.
    • Sentence Example: “The bell fell with a hiss.”

Each set builds upon the last, helping children recognize letters, associate them with sounds, and use them to form words and sentences. Activities like flashcards, sound games, word-building exercises, and sentence creation are crucial for reinforcing these skills.

Phase 3: Developing More Complex Letter-Sound Correspondences

In Phase 3, children expand their knowledge of letters and sounds, focusing on more complex correspondences. Here are detailed examples for each category in this phase.

Set 6 Letters: j, v, w, x

Example Words:

  • j: jam, jet, jug
  • v: van, vet, visit
  • w: win, wet, wave
  • x: box, fix, mix


Create a word wall with pictures and words starting with these letters. Have children match the pictures to the words.

Set 7 Letters: y, z, zz, qu

Example Words:

  • y: yes, yellow, yawn
  • z: zip, zebra, buzz
  • zz: fizz, jazz, fuzz
  • qu: quick, queen, quiz


Use flashcards to practice these words, focusing on the sounds of each letter combination. Engage children in a scavenger hunt to find objects starting with these sounds.

Consonant Digraphs: ch, sh, th, ng

Example Words:

  • ch: chin, chip, much
  • sh: ship, shop, fish
  • th: this, that, with
  • ng: sing, ring, long


Create a sorting game where children categorize words based on their digraphs. Use picture cards for visual support.

Vowel Digraphs and Trigraphs: ai, ee, igh, oa, oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, ure, er

Example Words:

  • ai: rain, train, mail
  • ee: tree, bee, feet
  • igh: light, night, high
  • oa: boat, goat, road
  • oo: moon, soon, book
  • ar: car, star, park
  • or: fork, short, more
  • ur: turn, burn, fur
  • ow: cow, town, now
  • oi: coin, join, soil
  • ear: ear, fear, near
  • air: hair, chair, fair
  • ure: pure, sure, cure
  • er: her, tiger, water


Create a “sound hunt” where children search for objects or pictures around the classroom that match the given vowel digraphs or trigraphs. Use word cards and have them form sentences using these words.

Reading and Writing Simple Sentences

Example Sentences:

  • The cat sat on the mat.
  • She saw a ship in the sea.
  • The light is very bright.
  • We will meet by the tree.


Provide worksheets with simple sentences for children to read and copy. Include activities where they fill in missing words from a word bank to complete the sentences. Use sentence strips for children to practice rearranging words to form correct sentences.

Phase 3 involves a variety of activities and examples to help children develop a more advanced understanding of letter-sound correspondences. Engaging them in hands-on and interactive learning will reinforce their skills and prepare them for more complex reading and writing tasks.

Phase 4: Consolidating Knowledge

In Phase 4 of phonics instruction, children consolidate their existing knowledge and begin to tackle more complex word structures. This phase focuses on understanding adjacent consonants, also known as blends and clusters, as well as polysyllabic words, which contain more than one syllable.

Adjacent Consonants: Blends and Clusters

Adjacent consonants, or consonant blends and clusters, are groups of two or three consonants that appear together in a word, with each consonant retaining its individual sound. Teaching children to recognize and pronounce these blends helps them decode more complex words.

Examples of Consonant Blends:

  1. Initial Blends:
    • st: star, stop, stamp
    • tr: tree, train, truck
    • cl: clock, climb, clap
    • br: brush, brick, break
    • fl: flag, flip, flower
    • dr: drum, drop, dress
    • sp: spin, spot, spring
  2. Final Blends:
    • nd: hand, bend, kind
    • lk: milk, talk, bulk
    • mp: jump, lamp, camp

Activities for Teaching Consonant Blends:

Create a word sorting game where children categorize words based on their consonant blends. Provide word cards and picture cards to make the activity more engaging. Encourage them to practice reading these words aloud, focusing on pronouncing each consonant sound clearly.

  1. Blending Practice: Use flashcards with individual consonants and blends. Have children practice sounding out each blend and then reading simple words that include them.
  2. Word Sorts: Provide a mix of words with different blends. Ask children to sort them into categories based on their blends (e.g., words with “st” vs. “cl”).
  3. Reading Passages: Create short reading passages that emphasize specific blends. Highlight the blends in different colors to make them stand out.

Polysyllabic Words

Polysyllabic words contain more than one syllable, making them more challenging to read and pronounce. Teaching children to break these words down into manageable syllables aids in their reading fluency and comprehension.

Examples of Polysyllabic Words:

  1. Two-Syllable Words:
    • butter: but-ter
    • garden: gar-den
    • apple: ap-ple
  2. Three-Syllable Words:
    • animal: an-i-mal
    • remember: re-mem-ber
    • beautiful: beau-ti-ful
  3. Four-Syllable Words:
    • calculator: cal-cu-la-tor
    • information: in-for-ma-tion
    • discovery: dis-cov-er-y

Activities for Teaching Polysyllabic Words:

Introduce children to syllable clapping, where they clap for each syllable in a word. For example, clap three times for “cat-er-pil-lar” and four times for “e-le-phant.” Provide worksheets with polysyllabic words for them to practice breaking down into syllables and reading them aloud.

Syllable Clapping:

Have children clap their hands as they say each syllable of a word. This physical action helps them break the word into parts.

Syllable Counting:

Give children a list of words and ask them to count and write the number of syllables in each word.

Syllable Segmentation:

Write polysyllabic words on index cards. Cut the cards between syllables and have children reassemble the pieces to form the correct words.

Word Building:

Using letter tiles or magnetic letters, have children create words that include consonant blends and polysyllabic words. Encourage them to form sentences using these words to practice their writing skills.

Reading Practice:

Provide short stories or passages that include a variety of words with adjacent consonants and polysyllabic words. Have children read these passages aloud to practice fluency and comprehension.

Interactive Games:

Use online phonics games and apps that focus on adjacent consonants and polysyllabic words. Interactive games can make learning more engaging and enjoyable for children.

Phase 4 focuses on consolidating children’s existing phonics knowledge and introducing them to more complex word structures. By engaging in a variety of activities and exercises, children will develop a deeper understanding of adjacent consonants and polysyllabic words, preparing them for more advanced reading and writing tasks.

Phase 5: Introducing More Complex Graphemes

In Phase 5, children are introduced to more complex graphemes, alternative pronunciations for known graphemes, and alternative spellings for known phonemes. This phase is essential for developing advanced reading and writing skills, allowing children to recognize and use a broader range of words. Here are detailed examples for each component of Phase 5.

New Graphemes for Reading


  • Example Words: day, play, stay
  • Sentence Example: “We will play outside all day.”


  • Example Words: out, loud, found
  • Sentence Example: “The cat found a mouse outside.”


  • Example Words: pie, tie, cried
  • Sentence Example: “He cried because his tie fell into the pie.”


  • Example Words: sea, tea, bread
  • Sentence Example: “We had tea and bread by the sea.”


  • Example Words: boy, toy, enjoy
  • Sentence Example: “The boy enjoys playing with his toy.”


  • Example Words: bird, shirt, third
  • Sentence Example: “The bird perched on the third branch of the tree.”


  • Example Words: blue, true, argue
  • Sentence Example: “The sky is blue and the story is true.”


  • Example Words: saw, draw, claw
  • Sentence Example: “I saw a cat with a sharp claw.”


  • Example Words: when, what, wheel
  • Sentence Example: “When will we ride the Ferris wheel?”


  • Example Words: phone, elephant, graph
  • Sentence Example: “I called him on the phone to ask about the elephant.”


  • Example Words: new, chew, flew
  • Sentence Example: “The bird flew to its new nest.”


  • Example Words: toe, foe, woe
  • Sentence Example: “He stubbed his toe, causing great woe.”


  • Example Words: author, pause, cause
  • Sentence Example: “The author had to pause while writing because of the noise.”


Create flashcards with the new graphemes and their corresponding words. Play matching games where children pair the grapheme cards with picture cards representing the words. Use these words in sentences and practice reading them aloud.

Alternative Pronunciations for Known Graphemes

Children learn that some graphemes can have different pronunciations depending on the word. For example, the letter ‘a’ can be pronounced differently in “cat” and “acorn.”


  • Example Words: acorn (long a), apple (short a)
  • Sentence Example: “An acorn fell from the tree next to the apple orchard.”


  • Example Words: gym (short i), cry (long i)
  • Sentence Example: “She went to the gym and started to cry because she forgot her shoes.”

Alternative Spellings for Known Phonemes


  • Phoneme: /f/
  • Alternative Spellings: f (fish), ff (off), ph (phone)
  • Sentence Example: “The fish swam off quickly when I tried to take a photo with my phone.”


  • Phoneme: /k/
  • Alternative Spellings: c (cat), k (kite), ck (duck)
  • Sentence Example: “The cat chased the kite while the duck swam in the pond.”


  • Phoneme: /j/
  • Alternative Spellings: j (jump), g (giant), dge (bridge)
  • Sentence Example: “The giant jumped over the bridge.”


Provide worksheets with sentences that include words with alternative pronunciations. Have children practice reading these sentences and identifying the different sounds for each grapheme. Use games like “phoneme bingo” where children mark off words with different pronunciations on their bingo cards.

Alternative Spellings for Known Phonemes

Children also learn that some phonemes can be spelled in different ways. For example, the /ai/ sound can be spelled as “ai” in “rain,” “ay” in “day,” or “a-e” in “cake.”

Example Words:

  • ai: rain, day, cake
  • ee: tree, seat, meet
  • igh: high, sky, pie


Create a word sorting activity where children categorize words based on their spellings for the same phoneme. Provide word cards and have them group words with similar spellings. Encourage them to write sentences using words with different spellings for the same sound.

Additional Activities for Phase 5

Reading Practice:

Provide short stories or passages that include a variety of words with new graphemes, alternative pronunciations, and spellings. Have children read these passages aloud to practice fluency and comprehension.

Spelling Games:

Use online spelling games and apps that focus on new graphemes and alternative spellings. Interactive games can make learning more engaging and enjoyable for children.

Writing Practice:

Encourage children to write their own stories or sentences using words with new graphemes and alternative spellings. Provide prompts and word banks to support their writing.

Phase 5 focuses on introducing children to more complex graphemes, alternative pronunciations, and spellings. By engaging in a variety of activities and exercises, children will develop a deeper understanding of letter-sound correspondences, preparing them for more advanced reading and writing tasks.

Phase 6: Developing Fluency and Comprehension

In Phase 6, children advance their literacy skills by focusing on fluency, comprehension, and writing. This phase includes the introduction of past tense endings, suffixes, spelling rules, reading comprehension strategies, and writing composition.

Past Tense: Introduction to -ed Endings


Teach children to convert present tense verbs to past tense by adding -ed. For instance:

  • Walk becomes walked
  • Play becomes played
  • Jump becomes jumped


Create a list of present tense verbs and ask children to write the past tense form. Then, have them use the past tense verbs in sentences. For example:

  • Present: “I walk to school.”
  • Past: “I walked to school.”

Suffixes: Adding Suffixes to Words


Introduce common suffixes and show how they change the meaning of root words. For example:

  • -ing: run → running
  • -er: teach → teacher
  • -est: tall → tallest
  • -ful: joy → joyful


Provide root words and ask children to add suffixes. Then, have them use the new words in sentences. For instance:

  • Root word: happy
    • With suffix: happiest
    • Sentence: “She is the happiest girl in the class.”

Spelling Rules: Learning Different Spelling Rules and Patterns


Teach children common spelling rules, such as:

  • Doubling consonants: When a one-syllable word ends in a single vowel followed by a single consonant, double the consonant before adding a suffix (e.g., run becomes running).
  • Changing y to i: When a word ends in y preceded by a consonant, change the y to i before adding a suffix (e.g., happy becomes happier).


Create spelling rule worksheets where children practice applying these rules. For example:

  • Word: big
    • Rule: Double the consonant before adding -er: bigger

Reading Comprehension: Developing Understanding of Texts


Teach children to use strategies such as summarizing, predicting, and questioning to enhance their comprehension of texts.


Read a short story together and ask children to:

  • Summarize the main points in their own words.
  • Predict what might happen next in the story.
  • Ask and answer questions about the text.

Example Activity

Read a passage and ask questions like:

  • “What is the main idea of the passage?”
  • “Why did the character act that way?”
  • “What do you think will happen next?”

Writing Composition: Encouraging Independent Writing


Encourage children to write their own stories, journal entries, or informational texts. Emphasize the importance of structure (beginning, middle, end) and clarity.


Give children a prompt and ask them to write a story. For example:

  • Prompt: “Imagine you find a hidden treasure in your backyard. Write a story about your adventure.”

Example Activity

Have children write daily journal entries, focusing on:

  • Writing complete sentences.
  • Using descriptive words.
  • Structuring their writing with a clear beginning, middle, and end.

By engaging in these activities, children will develop stronger reading fluency, better comprehension skills, and increased confidence in their writing abilities.

n this phase, children refine their reading and writing skills, focusing on fluency, comprehension, and independent writing. Understanding past tense endings, suffixes, and spelling rules helps children read and write more complex texts with confidence.

Each phase builds on the last, allowing children to develop their reading and writing skills effectively. Through structured activities and practice, children gain the foundation they need for lifelong literacy.


  1. – Phase 1 Phonics: A teacher’s guide
  2. – Phonological and Phonemic Awareness: Introduction
  3. – Phase 1 phonics: lesson 4: environmental sounds: outdoor

Grade 11 – Reading List