We are pleased to welcome a guest blog from one of our Early Years colleagues:
Rose Blair, Early Years Adviser and course trainer for ‘Funky Phonics’, shares the concept and principles behind the new HfL phonic resource ‘Supersonic Phonics’. Drawing on themes that are threaded throughout the resource, she shares some top tips to help practitioners create lively and exciting phonics sessions for all of their children. Engaging children in phonic activities will have a hugely positive impact on their learning of these all-important early literacy skills.
With an area of learning such as phonics that needs to be undertaken daily for it to have an impact, it’s very easy to become entrenched in doing the same thing, day in day out. In our Early Years team, we are passionate about the need for phonics teaching to be lively and interactive and wanted to create an Active Phonics video to exemplify the approaches that would supplement the existing phonics schemes used in school. We were fortunate to have the opportunity to work with a film company who were fantastic and quickly understood the message we wanted to share about phonics being fun, lively and active to enhance the children’s engagement. We were also fortunate to have a beautifully sunny day for filming. Of course as Early Years practitioners, we are used to going out in all weathers so rain would not have stopped play, as they say! So, click on the following link and enjoy watching our Supersonic Phonics in action.
The video was the catalyst for the creation of our Supersonic Phonic activity cards and the supporting planning formats, that are designed to encourage practitioners to provide stimulating daily phonics sessions. The activity cards will help to supplement the range of activities that you already plan for as part of your existing phonics teaching. The lively ideas will help you add variety to your phonics sessions and maintain your enthusiasm and passion for teaching those all-important early reading skills. We wanted the cards to be quick to understand and useful, so we have ensured there are no complex instructions. We have included clear guidance, a list of simple resources and a photograph along with additional ideas for adapting each activity. One of our favourite activities, and definitely one that is extremely popular with the children, is ‘Stamp on the cup’. The letters (graphemes) are placed on the floor in front of the children and plastic cups are placed behind the letters. The adult calls out a letter sound (phoneme) and the child that has the matching grapheme then literally stamps on the cup. You can just imagine the excitement this generates with the children! The game is easily adapted to match the ability of the children by placing words in front of the cups to replace the letters.
We understand that there is no ‘one size fits all’ with EY practitioners and that you are working in a variety of settings with very different cohorts of children. For that reason, we have created a selection of planning formats for you to choose from. They provide planning examples for Phases One and beyond. One element in particular that we believe is unique to our planning formats is the opportunity to note the elements of Phase One that will be followed through the Reception year, regardless of which Phase the children are working within. It is so important that the aspects of Phase One are continued throughout all phases to really ensure they are firmly embedded in the children’s learning.
We hope you are going to love the resources and find them inspirational and easy to use. The first set of cards and activities are available, for no extra charge, as part of your PA PLUS subscription.
Visit our online shop to access the resources.
Additional activity cards will be available to purchase from the Herts for Learning online shop from November, with further releases scheduled for the spring and summer terms, 2018.
In addition to the Supersonic Phonics resources, here are some ‘top tips’ for teaching phonics…
- Keep your phonics teaching lively and active. Children learn best by ‘doing’ and being physically active rather than by sitting still and listening. With practitioners using our activity cards, the children will have experiences that they will remember well because they have enjoyed them as they were both energetic and dynamic!
- Remember to use your outdoor learning environment to enhance your phonic teaching – whatever the weather. Imagine writing graphemes in frost or snow with a stick?!
- Ensure everyone uses the correct sounds consistently and that they are ‘soft’ sounds as this will make blending the sounds much simpler. Saying ‘mmmmm’ instead of ‘muh’ for example, or ‘sssssss’ rather than ‘suh’.
- Make sure that parents are aware of how to support their children’s phonic development at home through meetings, workshops and social media. The impact of home learning is huge so encourage parental engagement from the outset to establish excellent learning behaviours from the start.
- Provide simple resources for games that can be replicated in the home. Sharing the ideas from the activity cards will help. The activities are all resourced using ‘easy to source’ and cheap or recyclable materials.
- Don’t forget that your EYPP/G funding can be used to ensure that disadvantaged children are supported to close the attainment gap.
- Consider investing in training all staff members so that they have the skills to take small groups or lead interventions.
- Remember to leave the resources for the children to access during Child Initiated Learning. You will be able to observe them embedding their learning and that is one of the real pleasures of being an Early Years practitioner!