Part 3: Reading (blending)

Word box sheets

Word Boxes can be made from the groups of words in Photocopy Section 5 of the Phonics Handbook. These words are graded to progress from simple words, using the first letter sounds taught, to more complicated words using the digraphs. They are all regular, so the children can work the words out for themselves.

The aim is to give the children blending practice which can be done at home with a parent’s help. They are not expected to learn these words as sight words. Occasionally a child will read the words with no blending. This should be encouraged. He/she either has a good visual memory or a speedy internal blending technique. Whatever it is, he/she is fortunate and will not experience reading problems.

In the classroom it helps to have at least two of each box prepared. When the fourth group of letters, ‘ai, j, oa, ie, ee and or’, have been taught, the Word Boxes can be started. The two children who are best at blending are given Box 1 to take home. The next day they blend the words in their boxes to the teacher, assistant, or parent helper, and are given Box 2. Then Box 1 is passed on to the next two children who are good at blending.

Most children only need to keep the box for one night. It is better to avoid giving the boxes to children who cannot blend and hear the word. It is worth waiting until they have got the idea, before asking them to take a Word Box home.

If the children are shown the last part of Jolly Phonic Video 1 (at the end of the first month), they will know that there are irregular words that cannot be worked out. On the video Inky Mouse calls them ‘tricky words’. She puts on her ‘tricky word hat’ when she teaches the irregular words to her friends Snake and Bee. The teaching of tricky words is covered in Chapter 5 of the Phonics Handbook.