Part 4: Identifying the sounds in words


Dictating letters, words or sentences is important for developing writing skills. It can start almost immediately with the teacher calling out a letter sound that has been taught. All the children attempt to write it. Then the teacher can write it on the board and the children look and see if they have written it correctly. The number of letters dictated can increase as confidence grows. In the beginning the standard of achievement will range from very good to a complete mess.

Children are ready for word dictation when all the letter sounds have been taught and when they can hear the sounds in 2/3 letter words. It works well to give dictation twice a week.

Individually children are helped by being given dictation for their homework. In Photocopy Section 12 there are strips of regular words and instructions for parents.

The Introduction to Jolly Phonics video shows a parent giving dictation at home in this way. This section of the video can be useful to show at a parents meeting.

Dictation of regular words with consonant blends and digraphs follow on from the CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words. The digraphs can be written in joined up handwriting.

Once the children are familiar with some common irregular keywords, and know how to spell a few of them, sentences can be dictated. The sentences should be made up of regular words that can be written by listening for the sounds and those tricky words that have been taught. This not only practises writing words, but also gives the children a feeling for what a sentence is, and that a capital letter and full stop are needed.

Sometimes dictation of just capital letters is needed to make sure that the children know how to write them. Frequently young children have the ability to recognise the capital but this does not mean they know how to write it.

In the beginning only one way of writing a digraph is used, for example the long ‘a’ is taught as ‘ai’. So words used for dictation will be restricted to those such as ‘rain, drain, Spain, pain,’ etc.