Phonics Vs Phonemic Awareness

When teaching phonics, it is important to incorporate Phonemic Awareness into your lessons. Here are the steps I follow when introducing a new letter sound. 

These activities may take place over two days. I do not follow every step every time, it all depends on time constraints and how difficult the given letter is.

  • Revise all previous letter sounds. This takes less than a minute but is really important!  
  • Introduce the new sound – do not show the print at first. Draw attention to the mouth position and clear articulation. Are the lips together or apart? Where is the tongue placed? Is it a ‘stop’ sound or a continuous sound? Is it voiced or unvoiced?
  • Elicit some words containing the sound. The sound can be at the beginning, middle or end of the word.  Gather items in the classroom to make a sound table.
  • Read an alliterative sentence or story focusing on the new sound. Make an action or sing a song. You could use the Jolly Phonics stories and songs or the Alliterative Sentences in my store.


  • Practise oral blending with the new sound. Teacher says the sounds and the children must say the word. /t/ /o/ /p/ -> top
  • Introduce the grapheme (letter or letters) and letter name.  Is there any link between the sound and the name?  /t/ /tee/
  • Show a pictorial mnemonic. Make your body in the shape of the letter.
  • Look for the letter around the classroom, or in books. (Use mini magnifying glasses to make this more fun!)
  • Blend words in print using the new letter sound (decodable words and sentences). I print out flashcards of words and have them to hand.
  • Next up is letter formation demonstration and practice.  Make it multisensory where possible, use gel pens, chalk, sand etc. I like to laminate the ‘Rainbow Writing’ cards from my Phonics packs and use coloured whiteboard markers. I also use stickers or bingo daubbers to make ‘Dotty Letters’.


Reading, dictation and writing practice with the new letter sound should take place as soon as possible!  Phonics taught in isolation is not enough, we must give the children opportunities to use what they are learning in context.

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