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Letters and Sounds (Preschool and nursery)

Aims of the letters and sounds

  • To explore and play with sounds from a variety of sources, including the environment, instruments and our bodies and voices. 
  • To develop an awareness of patterns within sounds and words. 
  • To learn a range of rhymes and stories, being able recite some favourites and join in. 
  • To develop an awareness of when two words rhyme.  
  • To hear initial sounds within words, picking up on alliterative patterns.
  • To discriminate between sounds within words, blending sounds together to hear a word and segmenting. 


  • To set the foundations for early reading, by developing children’s phonics knowledge, enabling them to decode words and become successful, life-long readers. 

Implementation of letters and sounds

  • Teachers strong knowledge of the letters and sounds curriculum, knowing how to plan for their children in order to provide a range of opportunities for sound play. Teachers plan opportunities for learning through whole and small groups as well as within indoor and outdoor provision. 
  • The teaching team are experienced in seeing listening and phonic opportunities as they naturally occur, questioning and providing valuable discussions with children to explore their own knowledge. 
  • Motivating resources and activities are set up to excite learning and make phonics a very natural and enjoyable process.
  • Classrooms include communication friendly spaces as part of continuous provision, a book area, story shelves and musical instruments.
  • Teachers use physical literacy to tell stories and rhymes through actions.
  • Rhyme challenge takes place annually across the EYFS, parents are invited to celebrate children's learning. 
  • Parent workshops are provided across the year to share learning in phonics, including stories. Some workshops are targeted specifically to provide information about how to support your child at home.
  • Teachers set home challenges half termly through seesaw learning platform or in paper form. The challenge is often sent during the child's 'focus' week. These challenges link to phonic objectives. We celebrate work that is shared with us.


  • The outcome of phonics teaching in the Early Years will be that children will have a secure knowledge of phonics, enabling them to confidently decode words to read, and develop a love of reading.  

Learn and play! Ways to support your child with phonics at home


  • Try on different shoes and listen to the noise you make when you walk!
  • Go on a listening walk, the rule is no talking, just listening! Then share what you hear.
  • Play I spy, this does not just have to be for things beginning with… you can play I spy for things that rhyme with… things that say “Moo” (for example).
  • Making noises as you play, add sounds to cars, animals, things you might hear when playing in the toy kitchen.
  • Ask your child what song they would like to sing!
  • Make a musical drum set with pots and pans, sing and tap out words, for example names of family and friends.
  • Find a stick, or use a spoon outside to tap different objects exploring sound“Does that make a sound?” “Loud or quiet?”
  • Make noisy shakers, or fill socks with things you would find at home that make a noise, for example pasta, rice, paper.
  • Take a moment to listen to the noise of the water in the bath! Drop toys into the bath, what sound do they make?
  • Make your own guitar by wrapping elastic bands around a box.
  • Draw pictures of your favourite nursery rhyme characters and cut out to make puppets.
  • Write letters in different places, using foam in the bath, chalk outside, paint, press into dough, asking what sound is it? Make a list of objects that start with that sound. It is often best to start with the first sound in their name.
  • Tap out the names of family and friends as you clap your hands, stamp feet, tap your tummy.
  • Play ‘copy me’. Make a simple sound pattern for your child to copy for example, clap twice and stamp. Can they repeat back to you?
  • Write a shopping list and read back whilst pointing to the letters, emphasising the first sound. Encourage your child to make their own list.
  • Play ‘teachers’ asking your child to be the teacher and lead a song time, or write a sound on paper, telling you what it is.
  • Use magnetic letters and an oven tray to explore the letter sounds. Can you find a …..
  • Sound out words in everyday life for example t-a-p. Asking them ‘Can you turn on the ‘T-A-P’. You could make a game of it, maybe as you are getting dressed put on your “S-O-CK-S”.
  • Read everyday, ask your child which book they would like to read. There are lots of great rhyming books which encourage children to continue a rhyming pattern without even knowing!
  • Sing action songs, for example ‘Row row’/ ‘The wheels on the bus’ to explore moving to music.
  • Point out letters in the environment, for example when you are walking into school on street names, saying the sound clearly “Oh look, that’s a S”.
  • Use post it notes to write letter sounds and go on a sound hunt around the house!
  • Make silly sounds and encourage your child to copy for example, click with your tongue and pretend to yawn, etc.
  • Sing and draw, for example sing ‘Incy wincy’ and draw a big line up as you sing “Climbed up the water spout”.

Phonics through books, here are some titles which will encourage rhyming, making sounds and joining in with story patterns!

Early Years Foundation Stage 2020