Tuesday 28 February 2012

Educational Review: My Phonics Kit

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Phonics is now a key part of the Foundation and Keystage 1 learning in English primary schools. Many of us parents have had the joy of practicing these sounds with our 4-7 year olds. As it is such a fundamental part of their learning the government have introduced a Year 1 Screening Check from this summer. The key points of this are to check:

  • a child can give the sound when shown a grapheme
  • blend sounds in order to read words
  • read phonically decodable one-syllable and two-syllable words
  • read a selection of nonsense words to show they are really decoding and not guessing
Oxford Reading Tree have brought out My Phonics Kit to help parents practice with their children at home. The set is based upon the popular Biff, Chip, Kipper and Floppy series with characters most children are familiar with from school. My son is only in Reception but we gave the kit a good try out.

The kit comes with several components:
  1. 3 workbooks
  2. reward stickers
  3. a sticker chart
  4. a CD
At the start of each book is a selection of phonic graphemes so that you can tell if your child is going to be able to complete the workbook. My son obviously didn't know them all but he was very keen on doing the books any way:

Each part of the book concentrates on a few key graphemes so that it concentrates your child. There are simple little exercises which involve a combination of sounding out, pattern matching and some drawing. There is also a mini beast to spot on each page. As you can see from the photo above there are blank paw prints that the child fills in with stickers after completing an exercise. When both pages are done then a bigger sticker is placed in the green circle. 

Each book is done at the pace of your child so they don't get over loaded. If one set of exercises is enough then you can come back later. My son was quite keen on doing as much as possible so that he could get the special stickers on his Floppy wall chart. After he had done a few of these his reward was to use the interactive ebook on the computer (this needs pre-installing before it can be run). The programme is pretty simple and my son was able to mostly operate it himself:

The story is read out to the child as they click through the pages. After they have heard/read it all then they can do an activity which practices their phonics:

My son hasn't reached the right level of phonics yet to be fully successful in the activities in the kit. However, he was very keen on using it and the incentive of stickers always works for him. The parent/carer guide gives plenty of tips on how to use the kit properly. I would recommend this to parents that want to help their children with phonics - a useful tool for the parents to learn them too.

It is available from retailers such as Waterstones (currently £7.10 instead of RRP £10). There are also additional tips, fun activities and free eBooks at www.oxfordowl.co.uk

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