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Analytic Phonics vs Synthetic Phonics

Analytic Phonics vs Synthetic Phonics: To understand the difference, you have to understand the methodology behind
analytic phonics and synthetic phonics for reading.
Traditionally, children were taught to read using analytic phonics. This method has children analysing a word,
taking clues from recognition of the whole word, the initial sound and the context. This is a hit and miss approach
which encouraged guessing as a first reading strategy! It is therefore no surprise that in the USA, Australia and the UK
there are significant numbers of children failing to learn to read as well as they should; 38%, 20% and 20%
Synthetic Phonics on the other hand, involves no guessing! It is the synthesising, or blending of phonemes (sounds) to
make a word, enabling children to read.
The differences between analytic and Synthetic Phonics:
Analytic Phonics
Synthetic Phonics
Emphasis on the initial sound, e.g.
the /s/ of sun. This rule works for
Each phoneme, in every position is
Importance of
short words but is problematic for
important. We care about the s as
each sound
longer words and encourages
much as the u and the n.
guessing as an initial reading
Emphasis on initial sounds, onset,
Emphasis on hearing and identifying
rhyme and word families.
the phonemes in all positions.
Slow. It can be as slow as 1 sound a
Fast. 8 sounds over 2 weeks, getting
week. This unnecessarily delays
children reading right away.
reading progress.
Children are taught that the
alphabetic code is reversible; if you
can read a word you can spell it.
Spelling is tackled separately.
Have a look at Jacks writing portfolio
to see how quickly Synthetic Phonics
progresses writing confidence.
Encourages guessing.The emphasis The English language is far more
is on the initial sound, e.g. the s of logical than people first believe. It
Role of guessing sun. Works for short words that can doesnt need guessing for successful
be guessed but in longer words is
reading and spelling, it just needs
much more difficult.
systematic teaching.
The letter names are not taught
The alphabet is central to analytic
initially. Children are learning 44
phonics concentrating on those 26
phonemes and how each can be
letters and their corresponding
Role of the
represented. This enables children,
sounds. Think about these words:
when they come across: place, kiss
place, kiss and sell. All words
and sell, to understand that
have an /s/ phoneme but have
phonemes /s/ can have many spelling
different spellings.
choices: ce, ss and s.
There are minimal exceptions. Get
Exceptions to the There are too many exceptions to
Reading Right manages irregular,
high frequency words in a childfriendly manner as Camera Words.
Synthetic Phonics places much
Sounds were often taught incorrectly, emphasis on the teachers
e.g. s was taught as the sound
pronouncing the phonemes correctly.
The pronunciation
suh, not the correct pronunciation This is why we have produced
of the sounds
ssssss. Blending doesnt work as
Pronounce the Phonemes so that
easily with incorrect pronunciation.
teachers and parents start off on the
right footing.
Analytic versus synthetic phonics
Analytic phonics has long formed part of the early years reading programme in Scotland. Teaching starts at the whole
word level and then involves showing children patterns in spelling. It is generally taught in parallel with (or some time
after) graded reading books, which are introduced using a look and say approach.

Children are typically taught one letter sound a week and shown alliterative pictures and words which start with that
sound, such as car, cat, cake, candle, castle and caterpillar for the hard "c" sound.
Teaching initial letter sounds is generally completed by the end of the second term of P1. In the third term, children
look at letter sounds in the middle of words, such as "a" in cat, mat, bag and rag, and at the end of words, such as "p"
in nap, cup, tip and so on, and do exercises looking at letters in all positions. At this point teachers may show children
how to sound and blend consecutive letters in unfamiliar words to pronounce them, as in "cuh-ah-tuh" for cat.
Starting in P2, children learn about initial consonant clusters, such as "bl", "cr" and "sp", followed by final consonant
clusters, such as "nt" and st", vowel and consonant digraphs, such as "ai", "oa", "ee", "oo", "ch", "ng", "th" and "sh",
and silent "e".
This programme is often completed at the end of P3.
Synthetic phonics is used in Germany and Austria and generally taught before children are introduced to books and
At the start of schooling, children are taught a small group of letter sounds and then shown how these can be coarticulated to pronounce unfamiliar words.
Here, the first block of letter sounds is "a", "i", "n", "p", "s" and "t", which make up more three-letter words than any
other six letters. Children are shown many of these words, such as sat, pin, tin.
Other groups of letters are then taught and the children blend them in order to pronounce new words.
In the Clackmannanshire version of synthetic phonics, children use magnetic letters to help them understand how
letter sounds can be blended together to build up words. In order to read a word, the appropriate magnetic letters are
set out but the word is not pronounced for the children prior to them sounding and blending the letters.
The approach is also used for learning to spell. The children listen to a spoken word, select the letters for the sounds
and push the letters together, sounding and blending them to pronounce the word.
Consonant blends that can be read by blending are not explicitly taught, but consonant and vowel digraphs are.
One of the differences between the systems is that in analytic phonics, children analyse letters sounds after the word
has been identified, whereas in synthetic phonics the pronunciation of the word is discovered through sounding and
Another critical difference is that synthetic phonics teaches children to sound and blend from the start of reading
tuition, after the first few letter sounds have been taught. In analytic phonics, children at first learn words by sight
mostly, having their attention drawn only to the initial letter sounds. Only after all the letter sounds have been taught is
sounding and blending introduced.
Synthetic Phonics
Educators often speak of the importance of phonics in regard to children learning how to read, but what is less
understood is that there are two main different types of phonics, systematic and analytic, and the difference between
them is substantial enough to affect the gains in literacy that young readers make.
Synthetic phonics is a more accelerated form of phonics. Children are taught letter sounds upon first starting school,
before they learn to read, and even before they are introduced to books. They learn the sounds of the letters in their
smaller units, and then learn to put them together, or, synthesize them, as it were, hence the name synthetic phonics.
For example, they first learn the sounds c, a, and t before the letters are put together to form the word cat.
With analytic phonics, also known as implicit phonics, children are taught to recognize whole words by sight, and
later to break down the word into the smaller units of sound. For example, using analytic phonics children are taught
to recognize and say cat, then, when theyve mastered the word cat by sight, they are taught to break the word cat
into the smaller sounds, c-a-t. Letter sounds are taught after reading has begun. Children first learn to read by sight,
and then learn letter sounds, as well as correct spelling of words, follows later. The uncertainty is how much later this
knowledge of letter sounds and correct spelling will follow. It does not always follow that children will be able to pick
up these skills using analytic phonics. With analytic phonics, children differ widely in their ability to pick-up all the
implicit rules of the English alphabet.
In Clackmannanshire, Scotland, a 2004 study contrasted the literacy that 300 children acquired after 16 weeks of using
synthetic as opposed to analytic phonics. At the end of the 16-week experimental period, the children who were taught
synthetic phonics (as opposed to analytic phonics) were
7 months ahead of the analytic group in reading and 7 months ahead of their chronological age.
8-9 months ahead in spelling of the analytic group, and 7 months ahead of their age. Another advantage of
synthetic phonics is how beneficial it is to both genders. It has become a commonplace that boys lag behind
girls in literacy, but according to the study of the 300 children in Scotland, boys as well as girls excelled in
reading, reading comprehension, and spelling.
Of course, the use of synthetic phonics does not exclude the use of analytic phonics. There are some words that cannot
be learned by breaking them into smaller parts and children must learn them by sight and they are often referred to as
sight words.

The ABC Reading Eggs program uses a synthetic phonics approach in its instruction. With the Reading Eggs program,
children begin by learning the appropriate sound for each letter of the alphabet, including letter combinations. Each
letter of the alphabet is featured in its own lesson, and lessons build on one another, systematically, so that within a
handful or two lessons, children are able to read their first book.
In the first 60 lessons, all the books are highly decodable, using words that have been introduced and reinforced by the
lessons. The program responds to readers at their level of ability, making it possible for children to consistently read at
their level, which is the most beneficial for their learning. If the lessons are too easy, children lose interest; if they are
too hard, children lose motivation. But, pitch a lesson right at a childs level, interest and motivation is maintained,
and reading comprehension grows along with reading success.
As well as working through the alphabet, and the sounds that each letter makes, Reading Eggs also includes lessons on
phonics skills such as working with beginning and end blends of letters, the variety of sounds that vowels make,
diphthongs, consonant letter sounds such as soft c, g, and y, silent letters, double letter sounds, word families, and how
to work through words with more than one syllable. The ABC Reading Eggs program helps young readers develop
these phonics awareness skills; lessons build on one another, and reading skills improve upon the completion of every
reading activity.
By using the ABC Reading Eggs program, children learn to read in an engaging and enjoyable way. All of the lessons
are embedded in game-like activities that encourage the children to play as they learn. When they succeed, they are
rewarded with prizes, such as the Golden Eggs they receive at the end of each short activity they complete. With the
lessons being so fun, young readers enjoy spending time in the Reading Eggs programs, and the more time they spend
in the program, the more that they learn!
Links to other sites and useful articles
[Clackmannanshire Research (2004) on the benefits of synthetic phonics]
[Phonics Activities] (
[How Phonics helps with Decoding Words] (
Teaching Phonics
If you are interested in teaching phonics to your child, or just want to find out more about this method of teaching
reading, then read on.
Our writing is a code in which our speech is broken down into individual sounds and represented by letters. When
teaching your child to read using phonics, you are teaching them the correspondence between these letters and the
sounds they represent - the sound-spelling relationships - and how to use these relationships to read words.
Phonics instruction has been around for more than 200 years and different methods of teaching phonics have
developed over the years. A commonly held view nowadays is that the best methods for teaching phonics are explicit
and systematic.
Explicit phonics instruction teaches the sound-spelling relationships directly. Children are taught that a particular letter
or sequence of letters makes a particular sound.
Systematic phonics instruction teaches all the major sound-spelling correspondences in a clearly defined sequence.
The sequence varies according to the teaching method, but includes, for example, short and long vowels as well as
vowel and consonant digraphs such as oi, ea, sh, th. It could also include teaching in a systematic way the blends of
letter-sounds that form larger subunits in words such as onsets and rimes.
There are several approaches to teaching phonics which vary according to how the sound-spelling relationships are
represented to your child and how your child is expected to use their knowledge of these relationships to read
unknown words. The most common approaches are analytic phonics and synthetic phonics.
Analytic Phonics
Analytic phonics is a popular method of teaching phonics. Phonics programs of this type were the first to be devised
more than 200 years ago and are still very popular today, particularly in the USA. Children are taught to look initially
at the whole word and then break it down to compare parts of the word to letter-sound relationships they have come
across in previously learned words. By recognising patterns in words children are therefore able to figure out unknown
Similarly spelt words are learnt together in rhyming groups called word families. Single syllable words can be split
into two parts - the onset, which is the beginning consonant sound, and the rime, at the end of the word (e.g. tr-ick, flap). By varying the consonant sound or blend at the beginning of any particular rime, you can generate a whole family
of rhyming words (e.g. sp-ill, gr-ill, p-ill, sk-ill), known as a word family. If children come across a word they do not
know, they are taught to analyse the word to try to detect a spelling pattern from a previously learned word family,
thereby figuring out how to read the new word.

Synthetic Phonics
Another methodology for teaching phonics which first started appearing about 100 years ago is known as synthetic
phonics. This method is the accepted method of teaching reading in the UK and Australia.
In synthetic phonics approaches, children are taught to link an individual letter or letter combination with its
appropriate sound and then blend the sounds to form words. Children are systematically taught the forty plus sounds
which make up the English language and the combination of letters used to represent each sound.
There are more than forty phonic sounds in the English language, with each sound being represented by combinations
of the 26 letters. A sound, or phoneme, can have anything from one letter (eg 'm' in map) to four letters (eg 'ough' in
dough). Nearly every sound also has more than one way to spell it. For example, the sound /e/ as in 'egg' can also be
spelt -ea as in 'head' or -ai as in 'said'. These spelling alternatives are known as graphemes. There are, in fact, over 150
main graphemes used. Children start by learning one grapheme for each sound, blending words with them and then
learn other spelling alternatives afterwards.
When teaching phonics with this approach, the first group of letter sounds to be taught tend to be ones which can
make up a lot of three letter words on their own. Children are immediately shown how to blend these sounds together
to build up a variety of words.
Differences between Analytic Phonics and Synthetic Phonics
The key differences between these two approaches of teaching phonics are:
In analytic phonics, children analyse letter sounds after the word has been identified, whereas in synthetic
phonics the pronunciation of the word is discovered through sounding and blending.
Consonant blends (e.g. bl, gr, st, shr) are taught as units in analytic phonics but in synthetic phonics the child
blend these letters together to determine the sound.
Children taught by synthetic phonics process directly from print to sound. So if they see the word 'ploy', for
example, they know that 'oy' makes the sound /oy/ and so can read the word. The child taught by analytic
phonics determines the sound for 'oy' by referring to a known word, e.g. 'boy'.
Synthetic phonics teaches children to sound and blend after only a few letter sounds have been taught. In
analytic phonics, sounding and blending is introduced later.
Teaching With Phonics
If you want to teach your child to read using phonics, there are a variety of different reading programs for teaching
phonics available to help you. Whether you are looking for a simple handbook describing the steps you should follow,
or an on-line program with computer-animated games to entertain your child while they are learning, you should be
able to find something that meets your needs.
You could also try some phonics games which are all about recognising sounds in words, blending sounds to make
words and having fun with rhyming words.
Here are a good selection of early reader phonics books which help your child to practice specific phonics rules by
containing words which can be sounded out using these rules.
Have Your Say
If you have tried teaching your child to read using this, or any other, teaching method, please do share your
experiences - good and bad - with other visitors of this site.
Analytic Phonics
The first programme for teaching phonics using the analytic phonics method was devised in 1783 by Noah Webster. It
became the best selling reading programme for nearly 100 years. This method of teaching phonics is the most widely
used in the USA today.
In this method of teaching phonics children are taught to look initially at the whole word and then break it down to
compare parts of the word to letter-sound relationships they have come across in previously learned words.

A single syllable word has two parts: the onset (or beginning) and the rime. In the word spill, sp is the onset and
ill is the rime. By varying the onset, one rime can generate tens and even hundreds of additional words. These groups
of words are collectively known as a word family.
In analytic phonics children are taught to analyse whole words to detect spelling patterns and then split them into the
onset and rime. This decoding enables them to make a comparison with other words they may know from the same
word family. For example, if the child knows goat, boat and float, then the word moat will be easy to read, even
if it is the first time that it has been seen.
Teaching Principles
In analytic phonics the child first learns the names of each of the 26 letters of the alphabet and the sounds that
they make. The letter m, for example, has the letter name em and the letter-sound /m/ as in man. Initially
the focus is on identifying these sounds when they appear at the beginning of words, then the child will
identify these sounds appearing in the middle and ends of words.
Next the child is taught how to blend letters together to make simple three letter words such as 'cat', 'sun' etc.
For example, programmes may start with regular short-vowel words containing a (eg can, man, fan, ran) and
then progress through words containing the other vowels.
Consonant clusters (e.g. bl, gr, st) are then introduced, first at the beginning of words and then at the end of
The next stage in analytic phonics teaching is to teach the child about important letter combinations that
symbolise specific sounds such as long vowel sounds (eg a-e, i-e), consonant digraphs (eg th, sh, ch, wh, ck,
ph, wr), vowel combinations (eg ee, oa, oe, ai, ay, oi, oy, ea, ow, ou, ue, au), r-controlled vowels (eg ar, or, ore,
er, ur, ir, ear, eer, air) and other combinations (eg a+l, w+a, c+e, igh, ough).
Similarly spelt words are set up in rhyming families and learned together eg bread, thread, tread, dread.
Rules are taught to help deduce how a word should be read. However, exceptions to these rules must also be
The most common irregular words are taught to be recognised by sight.
The child is encouraged to use picture cues, initial letter cues and context information for guessing words.
Books that support this teaching method use text with repetitive, predictable sentences. Pictures give clues for
any new words introduced on that page.
Of the words used most often in written material, 47% can be read using basic phonic rules, so by learning
these rules children are already well on their way to being able to read nearly half of the words commonly
This technique is an efficient way to help children develop a large sight vocabulary for both reading and
It is particularly useful for words which dont lend themselves to sounding out phonetically. Common
examples include could, would, should. By learning the rime ould, and recognising it in one of these
three words, the other two words are also easily learned.
Learning the sounds and their blends can be boring for young children, although some reading programmes
introduce games and activities to try to keep it fun.

It can be confusing for children when they discover that a single letter has more than one sound depending on
the word you find it in. For example, think of how you pronounce o in dog, food, fold and shout. Knowing
what sound to give a letter becomes a case of memorising many word families.
Promoting guessing to help read words encourages reading that is prone to inaccuracies.
One new letter sound is often taught each week, which is a comparatively slow rate of learning compared to
other methods.
Although the method works with many children, a large percentage still struggle with this method of teaching

Reading Programs
If you want to teach your child to read using phonics, there are a variety of different reading programs, many of which
use analytic phonics, available to help you. Whether you are looking for a simple handbook describing the steps you
should follow, or an on-line program with computer-animated games to entertain your child while they are learning,
you should be able to find something that meets your needs.
Reading Practice
To help your child practice specific phonics rules encourage them to read easy reader books based on phonics. Most of
the words contained in these books, which have been written especially for beginner readers, can be sounded out using
phonic rules. If your child comes across a word they do not know they can decode it by breaking the word down into
units and blending together the sounds of each of these units.
Have Your Say
If you have tried teaching your child to read using this, or any other, teaching method, please do share your
experiences - good and bad - with other visitors of this site.

why synthetic phonics has been found to be a more effective teaching approach than analytic phonics.
February 25, 2015 sharpneduguru Leave a comment
In analytic phonics, teaching starts at the whole word level, the children have a good knowledge of the 26 alphabet
letters and sounds at the end of the year. But they do not know how to blend these sounds for reading, or identify them
in words for writing. They are also unaware of sounds made with more than one letter i.e. diagraphs and blends.
Whereas, synthetic phonics have been proven more effective as it focuses on the letter-sound correspondence,
regardless of the childs background, gender or mother tongue. When this is built in, the children then find it easier to
learn that the letter could also have names. The idea of letter sounds and letter names makes synthetic phonics more
structured and easier for children as they gradually learn how to blend words as well. It begins with single letters and
the sounds they produce. The multi-sensory approach of Synthetic Phonics teaches 42 sounds with actions and letter

shapes. This helps the children learn and remember them easily and fast. Blending is introduced almost immediately
and this gives the children an opportunity to begin reading simple words within the first couple of days. They read the
word rather than memorize it. They learn to decode words using letter sounds, and blend these sounds together to
produce a correct reading of the whole word. Further, reading and writing become fun for them. Phrases like This is a
tough word, or This time the rule wont work for tricky and difficult words help in maintaining a positive outlook
in the children for reading and writing
Phonics Games Shyntetic phonic-Playing with Sounds
You can have great fun with your child playing phonics games, which are all about playing with the sounds in words.
Whats more, many of these games can be played on the move so are ideal for playing in the car or while waiting to be
served in a restaurant.
By playing these games you are building your childs phonological awareness, that is his awareness of sounds in
words. This is important because as his awareness of sounds increases he will start to master skills which will
eventually help him to read and spell.
The different skills which these phonics games will help to develop are:
Awareness of Syllables Separating words into syllables will help your child break down longer words into
parts to help him read or spell them eg break down 'contact' into 'con' and 'tact'.
Rhyming Being able to recognise and generate rhyming words will help your child to read new words by
comparing them to known, rhyming words eg use 'could' to help him read 'would'.
Isolating Sounds By learning that 'pen' and 'police' start with the same sound, and that 'cat' and 'seat' end
with the same sound, your child learns to match spoken sounds to written letters.
Blending Sounds When your child learns to blend the three individual sounds /c/ /a/ and /t/ to make 'cat' he
will then be able to "sound out" any simple words in this way to read them.
Segmenting Sounds When your child learns to break down the word 'chip' into its three individual sounds
/ch/ /i/ and /p/ he will then be able to start spelling simple words.
Before starting these phonics games your child should be comfortable with letter recognition. If he needs some
practice on learning letters try these other early literacy activities for learning letters first.
Your child is also sure to enjoy these word-based literacy games which are designed to develop word recognition.
Ready to have some fun...
Awareness of Syllables
The following phonics game will teach your child to break down longer words into parts which will eventually help
when reading and spelling long words.
Sort by Syllables Gather together several objects which your child knows the name of and put them in a bag.
Label three boxes 1, 2 and 3. Ask your child to pick one object at a time from the bag and place it in the box
which is labelled with the number of syllables in the object's name. Box 1 should contain all the objects of one
syllable (eg cup, pen), Box 2 objects of two syllables (eg pencil, teddy) and Box 3 objects of three syllables
(eg umbrella, elephant). You could also play this game using picture cards rather than objects. Cut out pictures
of different objects with one, two or three syllables and glue them onto index cards. Ask your child to sort the
cards into three piles.
These phonics games help your child learn to recognise and generate rhyming words.
Point and Rhyme Around the house, or while you are out and about, point to an object and say its name.
Then ask your child to think of as many words as he can which rhyme with the name. Let him use nonsense
words too - the point is that he gets the hang of rhyming even if the words are made up. Words that work well
include hat, coat, book, bed, toy, pot, chair, sink, bell, rug, car, dog.
Odd One Out Say three words, two of which rhyme and one which does not eg pen, bin and hen, and ask
your child to tell you the two words which rhyme.
Guess the Rhyme Think of two words which rhyme. Tell your child one of them and ask him to guess the
other, based on your brief description of it. For example, I am an animal which rhymes with hat. I fly around
at night and hang upside down when I sleep. What am I?.
Isolating Sounds
With these phonics games your child learns to isolate the first or last sound from the rest of the word.
Guess the Animal Think of an animal and tell your child the first sound of the animals name. Ask him to
guess which animal you are thinking of eg I am thinking of an animal beginning with /d/. What is it?. When

he has guessed correctly, ask him to choose a name for the animal which begins with the same sound as the
animals name eg Should the dogs name be Dingo or Bingo?.
Sort by Sound Put several different objects which all start with one of three different sounds in a big bag.
Label the outside of three small boxes with the letters associated with the sounds you have chosen. Ask your
child to pick one object at a time from the bag and place it in the box which is labelled with the first sound of
the objects name. You could also play this game using picture cards, as in the Sound Detective game below.
Sound Detective Cut out various pictures of objects which your child knows the names of and glue them onto
index cards. Try an image search on Google if you want to find a picture of a particular object you know your
child will enjoy. Several of the pictures should start with the same sound. Lay the cards on the floor, choose a
sound, and pick up all the cards with pictures starting with your chosen sound. Give these cards to your child
and tell him that you are thinking of a sound and all these pictures start with that sound. Ask him to be the
Sound Detective and work out which sound you are thinking of.
Words Beginning With ... Say your childs name, or ask him to pick a friend's name, and then ask him to tell
you all the words which he can think of which begin with the same sound as the name you have chosen.
Going on Holiday Choose a sound and then say Im going on holiday and Im going to take a ... . Follow
with the name of an object beginning with your chosen sound. Then tell your child that it is his turn. He
should repeat the phrase and add his own object on the end, which must also start with the same sound.
Continue to take turns until you run out of objects. Then you can repeat with another sound.
Tongue Twisters Ask your child to choose a letter (perhaps the first letter of his or a friends name) and then
help him make up a silly sentence with lots of words which all start with the same sound eg Bouncy Boris
Blew Bubbles By the Bed.

Blending Sounds
These phonics games help your child to learn to blend individual sounds to make a word.
Blending Game Think of a three sound word eg fun, cat, red. Say each sound individually, isolating it as
much as possible. For example, for /f/ say fffff not ffuh, otherwise your child might end up saying
fuhun. Ask your child to guess the word.
Stretch the Story Tell your child that you are going to read him a story but you will stretch out some of the
words so that he can hear all of the sounds in the word. His job is to put the stretched words back together.
Read your child the story and when you get to an important place, character or object say that word stretched
out - saying each of the individual sounds in the word. Pause to allow your child to put the word back together
before continuing with the story.
Segmenting Sounds
By playing these phonics games your child is practicing breaking down words into their individual sounds.
Segmenting Game This is the same as the Blending Game but with you doing the guessing. Ask your child to
think of a word and, without telling you the whole word, say each sound individually. You have to guess the
Word Building Think of a three letter word which is simple to spell and write each letter on a small piece of
card - one letter per card. Draw three lines on a separate piece of paper. Tell your child the word and ask him
to make the word by arranging the three cards in the right order on the lines of the paper. If he needs help try
running your finger along the three lines as you slowly say the word, but do not segment the sounds in the
word for him. This phonics game also works particularly well with magnetic letters and a magnetic white
More Word Building Create cards, as in the Word Building game, of the following letters: a, c, f, m, o, p, s, t.
Start by spelling cot using three of these letters. Ask your child if he can change one of the letters to make
pot. Then continue to make other words, always changing one letter at a time pat, fat, mat, cat, sat,
sap, tap, cap, map, mop, cop, top, pop. This phonics game also works particularly well with
magnetic letters and a magnetic white board.
Other Useful Resources
Try these useful printouts and worksheets to help your child practice identifying the sounds in words:
o Fill in the missing letters for "at" words
o Fill in the missing letters for "et" words
o Worksheets for matching rhyming words
o Worksheets for practicing the initial sound in words
o Worksheets for practicing the final sound in words
o Match, write and search for three letter words (follow links in CVC Word Searches section)

o A board game to print at home and practice sounding out and identifying sounds in words
Here are some fun on-line phonics games which will help increase your childs awareness of sounds in words:
o Join Elmo and his friends and play these fun phonics games
o Play these matching games to practice rhyming and identifying initial sounds in words
o Blend words with charging football players
o Practice sounds with chickens
o Make words by selecting the right letter
o Practice a simple sound and then use it to read an on-line book
o Identify initial letters and build simple words
o Find more links to other great games

The Analytic Method of Teaching Phonics

What is Analytic Phonics?
The Analytic Phonics method teaches children the phonic relationships among words. Children are taught to analyze
letter-sound relationships and look to decode words based upon spelling and letter patterns and their sounds. For
example, if the child knows "bat", "cat" and "hat", then the word "mat" will be easy to read.
What is the Appropriate age range?
This method is appropriate for first and second graders and struggling readers.
How to Teach it
1. First the students must know all the letters in the alphabet and their sounds. The child will need to be able to
identify the sounds in the beginning, middle and end of a word. Once the students are able to do that, the
teacher then selects a text that has a lot of letter sounds.
1. Next the teacher presents the words to the students (usually site words are selected to start). For example, the
teacher places these words on the board: light, bright, night or green, grass, grow.
2. The teacher then asks the students how these words are alike. The student would respond, "They all have
"ight" at the end of the word." or "They all have "gr" at the beginning of the word."
3. Next the teacher focuses on the sound of the words make by saying, "How does the "ight" sound in these
words?" or "How does the "gr" sound in these words?"
4. The teacher picks a text for the students to read that has the sound they are focusing on. For example, choose a
text that has the word family, "ight" (light, might, fight, right) or choose a text that has the word family, "gr"
(green, grass, grow, gray, great, grape).
5. Finally the teacher reinforces to the students that they just used a decoding strategy to help them read and
understand words based upon the relationships letters have with one another.
Tips for Success
Use books that have predicable, repetitive sentences.
Encourage children to use picture clues for any unknown words.
Teach students about word families. (now, how cow) (down, frown, brown)
Encourage students to look for constant clusters at the beginning and ends of words.(bl,fr,st,nd)
When teaching analytic phonics make sure to emphasize on the importance of each sound.
The following instructional strategies for grades 2-5 represent a variety of ways to encourage proficient reading, and
will not only make life a easier for students, but it will also help students develop a love for reading as well.
Collaborative Reading
Description: The collaborative reading strategy is when the teacher reads a story aloud and then invites the student to
follow. As the teacher and student read together they discuss what the story could possibly be about. This helps the
student develop an understanding of the story, that he/she then uses to read a new selection on their own with minimal
support from the teacher.
Targeted Reading Level: 2-5

Teaching Procedure:
1. The teacher selects an easy chapter book and discusses with the student what they think the book will be about
just based on the title of it.
2. The teacher begins reading the story aloud, and as she reads asks the student, "What will happen next?"
3. After reading the teacher asks questions to encourage higher level thinking, such as "What would you change
in the story?"
1. When reading a second time the teacher invites the student to read.
2. Then, the teacher and student review any phrases or ideas that were troublesome for the student.
3. The student then read the book on their own, and the teacher is their for any needed support.
This instructional approach is appropriate for students who are a passive learner, and who have minimal word
identification skills. It is also appropriate for students who lack fluency while reading.
Making Words
Description: The making words strategy was designed to help readers develop the ability to spell words and apply
this when decoding. This approach helps children learn to make six-to-seven letter words as they make smaller words.
It is meant to help students increase their decoding ability.
Targeted Reading Level: 2-5
Teaching Procedure:
1. The teacher first chooses a word and makes a list of 10-15 words that can be made from that first word she
chose. These smaller words can be sorted for patterns, meanings, etc.
2. The teacher gives the student a set of letters that form the "big word" she chose.
3. The teacher and student review the letters.
4. Then, the teacher directs the student to make a two letter word from the letters given.
5. The student then says the word he/she made and uses it in a sentence.
6. Next, the teacher asks the student to make a three letter word using the letters. The teacher gives cues for the
student to change one letter, or letters around to make the word.
7. Then this process continues as the student makes four, five, six, and seven letter words while changing and/or
rearranging the letters to form words.
8. The teacher review each and every word the student makes, and says, spells, and write down each word on an
index card.
9. The words are then sorted for phonic patterns. For example, words can be sorted by rhyme, patterns of
beginning or ending sounds, meanings, or anything the teacher wants the student to learn. (see word chunking
and word walls for more info.)
This instructional approach is appropriate for students who need to develop a system for decoding. It also is
appropriate for students who are passive learners who need help focusing on the letters that are in words.
Looking for more instructional strategies? Check out these instructional strategies for grades K-3.
Spelling out success in reading
The government has promised a review of teaching reading in England's
primary schools, particularly looking at a method called "synthetic phonics".
But what exactly is it?
Most schools in England already use a version of phonics - where children are
taught the sounds of letters to make up words.
But teachers use that approach with a combination of others, such as encouraging
children to work out what a word might be from the context such as the pictures on
a page or the use of repetition of particular words.
In the past children might have been taught to learn whole words first, probably
using flash-cards, and then they were given books which had the words they had
Most teachers use a mixture of
learnt in them.
methods in reading
With phonics generally, children learn to read using the sounds of letters rather
than the names. So a letter 'D' is said 'duh' not 'dee'.
So far so good. But there are two main types of phonics - analytic and synthetic.
In analytic phonics, children are taught whole words and later analyse their
constituent parts, such as c-at or str-eet.
Most teachers do both
synthetic and analytic
In synthetic phonics, the key is to teach them sounds of letters and letter
combinations first, then combine those to form words: c-a-t or s-t-r-ee-t.
Primary school teacher and literacy expert Kate Ruttle believes both methods are
being used in schools, alongside several other approaches to reading, and the
Kate Ruttle, teacher and book
debate is an academic one.
"Most parents will find their teachers are using a version of phonics already," she

"Most teachers do both synthetic and analytic phonics and 90% of teachers probably don't know the difference
between the two. It's something the academic world argues about.
"Teachers will vary their methods depending on the needs of their class."
Scottish experience
Ms Ruttle is an editor of the Oxford Reading Tree - a reading scheme used in
They have no fear of
many English primary schools.
She does not believe in promoting just one approach to reading - and says the
attempting to read new words
or write a simple sentence
existing national literacy strategy is not opposed to phonics, it is just not
With synthetic phonics, children learn 44 sounds of letters or groups of letters
Veronica O'Grady, Menstrie
before being allowed to look at books which have those sounds in them.
Primary School
Under the national literacy strategy, primary school children need to spend an hour
a day on literacy. Teachers are encouraged to use phonics alongside other methods.
In Clackmannanshire, Scotland, 300 children were taught to read using the synthetic phonics method and were found
to be well ahead of children taught in other ways.
At Menstrie Primary School, children were given intensive instruction in synthetic phonics for 16 weeks as soon as
they started school.
By the age of 11, they were more than three years ahead of their peers in reading age.
Head teacher Veronica O'Grady believes this method is better than what was being done 10 years ago.
"Teaching synthetic phonics gives children strategies for reading and writing that they wouldn't have had at the early
stages using other methods."
She added: "They have no fear of attempting to read new words or write a simple sentence.
"These early gains seem to last - even at the top of the school boys are reading and writing as well and as
enthusiastically as girls."
Opinion is divided on whether children should learn to read using only synthetic phonics.
Dr Dominic Wyse, a lecturer in primary and early years learning at Cambridge University, believes children also
benefit from having words put into context, so that they can fully understand what they are being taught.
He told the Today programme on BBC Radio Four he was concerned about some approaches to synthetic phonics,
where he claimed children were being denied books.
Dr Wyse rejected suggestions that phonics had been abandoned entirely by many schools in favour of other methods.
"To claim that phonics has been neglected is always exaggerated. My evidence is that over time no more than 4% of
schools nationally have neglected phonics teaching perhaps for some other method, such as whole language teaching.
"There are trends of course in theory and so on, but basically phonics has been a part of our reading curriculum for a
very long time".
The primary focus of phonics instruction is to help beginning readers understand how letters are linked to sounds
(phonemes) to form letter-sound correspondences and spelling patterns and to help them learn how to apply this
knowledge in their reading.
Phonics instruction may be provided systematically or incidentally. The hallmark of a systematic phonics approach or
program is that a sequential set of phonics elements is delineated and these elements are taught along a dimension of
explicitness depending on the type of phonics method employed. Conversely, with incidental phonics instruction, the
teacher does not follow a planned sequence of phonics elements to guide instruction but highlights particular elements
opportunistically when they appear in text.
Types of phonics instructional methods and approaches
This table depicts several different types of phonics instructional approaches that vary according to the unit of analysis
or how letter-sound combinations are represented to the student. For example, in synthetic phonics approaches,
students are taught to link an individual letter or letter combination with its appropriate sound and then blend the
sounds to form words. In analytic phonics, students are first taught whole word units followed by systematic
instruction linking the specific letters in the word with their respective sounds.
Phonics instruction can also vary with respect to the explicitness by which the phonic elements are taught and
practiced in the reading of text. For example, many synthetic phonics approaches use direct instruction in teaching
phonics components and provide opportunities for applying these skills in decodable text formats characterized by a
controlled vocabulary. On the other hand, embedded phonics approaches are typically less explicit and use decodable
text for practice less frequently, although the phonics concepts to be learned can still be presented systematically.
Analogy phonics
Teaching students unfamiliar words by analogy to known words (e.g., recognizing that the rime segment of an
unfamiliar word is identical to that of a familiar word, and then blending the known rime with the new word

onset, such as reading brick by recognizing that -ick is contained in the known word kick, or reading stump by
analogy to jump).
Analytic phonics
Teaching students to analyze letter-sound relations in previously learned words to avoid pronouncing sounds
in isolation.
Embedded phonics
Teaching students phonics skills by embedding phonics instruction in text reading, a more implicit approach
that relies to some extent on incidental learning.
Phonics through spelling
Teaching students to segment words into phonemes and to select letters for those phonemes (i.e., teaching
students to spell words phonemically).
Synthetic phonics
Teaching students explicitly to convert letters into sounds (phonemes) and then blend the sounds to form
recognizable words.
Findings and determinations
The meta-analysis revealed that systematic phonics instruction produces significant benefits for students in
kindergarten through 6th grade and for children having difficulty learning to read. The ability to read and spell words
was enhanced in kindergartners who received systematic beginning phonics instruction. First graders who were taught
phonics systematically were better able to decode and spell, and they showed significant improvement in their ability
to comprehend text. Older children receiving phonics instruction were better able to decode and spell words and to
read text orally, but their comprehension of text was not significantly improved.
Systematic synthetic phonics instruction (see table for definition) had a positive and significant effect on disabled
readers' reading skills. These children improved substantially in their ability to read words and showed significant,
albeit small, gains in their ability to process text as a result of systematic synthetic phonics instruction. This type of
phonics instruction benefits both students with learning disabilities and low-achieving students who are not disabled.
Moreover, systematic synthetic phonics instruction was significantly more effective in improving low socioeconomic
status (SES) children's alphabetic knowledge and word reading skills than instructional approaches that were less
focused on these initial reading skills.
Across all grade levels, systematic phonics instruction improved the ability of good readers to spell. The impact was
strongest for kindergartners and decreased in later grades. For poor readers, the impact of phonics instruction on
spelling was small, perhaps reflecting the consistent finding that disabled readers have trouble learning to spell.
Although conventional wisdom has suggested that kindergarten students might not be ready for phonics instruction,
this assumption was not supported by the data. The effects of systematic early phonics instruction were significant and
substantial in kindergarten and the 1st grade, indicating that systematic phonics programs should be implemented at
those age and grade levels.
The NRP analysis indicated that systematic phonics instruction is ready for implementation in the classroom. Findings
of the Panel regarding the effectiveness of explicit, systematic phonics instruction were derived from studies
conducted in many classrooms with typical classroom teachers and typical American or English-speaking students
from a variety of backgrounds and socioeconomic levels.
Thus, the results of the analysis are indicative of what can be accomplished when explicit, systematic phonics
programs are implemented in today's classrooms. Systematic phonics instruction has been used widely over a long
period of time with positive results, and a variety of systematic phonics programs have proven effective with children
of different ages, abilities, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
These facts and findings provide converging evidence that explicit, systematic phonics instruction is a valuable and
essential part of a successful classroom reading program. However, there is a need to be cautious in giving a blanket
endorsement of all kinds of phonics instruction.
It is important to recognize that the goals of phonics instruction are to provide children with key knowledge and skills
and to ensure that they know how to apply that knowledge in their reading and writing. In other words, phonics
teaching is a means to an end.
To be able to make use of letter-sound information, children need phonemic awareness. That is, they need to be able to
blend sounds together to decode words, and they need to break spoken words into their constituent sounds to write
words. Programs that focus too much on the teaching of letter-sound relations and not enough on putting them to use
are unlikely to be very effective.
In implementing systematic phonics instruction, educators must keep the end in mind and ensure that children
understand the purpose of learning letter sounds and that they are able to apply these skills accurately and fluently in
their daily reading and writing activities.

Of additional concern is the often-heard call for "intensive, systematic" phonics instruction. Usually the term
"intensive" is not defined. How much is required to be considered intensive?
In addition, it is not clear how many months or years a phonics program should continue. If phonics has been
systematically taught in kindergarten and 1st grade, should it continue to be emphasized in 2nd grade and beyond?
How long should single instruction sessions last? How much ground should be covered in a program? Specifically,
how many letter-sound relations should be taught, and how many different ways of using these relations to read and
write words should be practiced for the benefits of phonics to be maximized? These questions remain for future
Another important area is the role of the teacher. Some phonics programs showing large effect sizes require teachers to
follow a set of specific instructions provided by the publisher; while this may standardize the instructional sequence, it
also may reduce teacher interest and motivation.
Thus, one concern is how to maintain consistency of instruction while still encouraging the unique contributions of
teachers. Other programs require a sophisticated knowledge of spelling, structural linguistics, or word etymology. In
view of the evidence showing the effectiveness of systematic phonics instruction, it is important to ensure that the
issue of how best to prepare teachers to carry out this teaching effectively and creatively is given high priority.
Knowing that all phonics programs are not the same brings with it the implication that teachers must themselves be
educated about how to evaluate different programs to determine which ones are based on strong evidence and how
they can most effectively use these programs in their own classrooms. It is therefore important that teachers be
provided with evidence-based preservice training and ongoing inservice training to select (or develop) and implement
the most appropriate phonics instruction effectively.
A common question with any instructional program is whether "one size fits all." Teachers may be able to use a
particular program in the classroom but may find that it suits some students better than others. At all grade levels, but
particularly in kindergarten and the early grades, children are known to vary greatly in the skills they bring to school.
Some children will already know letter-sound correspondences, and some will even be able to decode words, while
others will have little or no letter knowledge.
Teachers should be able to assess the needs of the individual students and tailor instruction to meet specific needs.
However, it is more common for phonics programs to present a fixed sequence of lessons scheduled from the
beginning to the end of the school year. In light of this, teachers need to be flexible in their phonics instruction in order
to adapt it to individual student needs.
Children who have already developed phonics skills and can apply them appropriately in the reading process do not
require the same level and intensity of phonics instruction provided to children at the initial phases of reading
acquisition. Thus, it will also be critical to determine objectively the ways in which systematic phonics instruction can
be optimally incorporated and integrated in complete and balanced programs of reading instruction. Part of this effort
should be directed at preservice and inservice education to provide teachers with decision-making frameworks to
guide their selection, integration, and implementation of phonics instruction within a complete reading program.
Teachers must understand that systematic phonics instruction is only one component albeit a necessary component
of a total reading program; systematic phonics instruction should be integrated with other reading instruction in
phonemic awareness, fluency, and comprehension strategies to create a complete reading program.
While most teachers and educational decision-makers recognize this, there may be a tendency in some classrooms,
particularly in 1st grade, to allow phonics to become the dominant component, not only in the time devoted to it, but
also in the significance attached. It is important not to judge children's reading competence solely on the basis of their
phonics skills and not to devalue their interest in books because they cannot decode with complete accuracy. It is also
critical for teachers to understand that systematic phonics instruction can be provided in an entertaining, vibrant, and
creative manner.
Systematic phonics instruction is designed to increase accuracy in decoding and word recognition skills, which in turn
facilitate comprehension. However, it is again important to note that fluent and automatic application of phonics skills
to text is another critical skill that must be taught and learned to maximize oral reading and reading comprehension.
This issue again underscores the need for teachers to understand that while phonics skills are necessary in order to
learn to read, they are not sufficient in their own right. Phonics skills must be integrated with the development of
phonemic awareness, fluency, and text reading comprehension skills.
Analytic Phonics
By Joanna Cahilog, Edited by: Darlene Leyton and Laura Callen
Textbook Definition:
An approach to phonics teaching that emphasizes the discovery of letter-sound relationships through the analysis of
known words

Lesson:Teacher discussed short vowel closed syllable words. Introduced and analyzed simple words. Students built
their own words using pre prepared words in sticky notes. Students shared their words to whole group.
Date: November 6, 2010
Teacher: Ms. Oubre
School: Miller Intermediate
Grade level: 5th grade
Student will learn relationships between sounds and letters.
White board
Colored Markers
Reading Journals
Teacher instructed the students to pull out their
notebooks and prepare for note taking. Teacher
the students to come sit on the floor near the
The teacher wrote "close syllable" on the white
and began discussion by asking the students if
know what close syllable meant. After student
responded, teacher explained and reviewed what
consonant is and what a vowel is. Teacher further
explained by telling students what the short
sound is and provided examples. (i.e. vowel
vowel e=elephant). Teacher allowed students to come up with their own examples. The teacher continued discussion
and started writing down simple words on the white board in a chart form. The teacher asked the students to copy the
words. Teacher went over each word one by one for the first row of words and asked students to clap the syllables for
each word. While clapping, teacher highlighted the syllable break for each word with a different colored marker.
Teacher allowed students to try the rest of the words on the board. While the teacher pointed to each word, the
students say the word aloud and clapped for the syllable. The teacher asked the students where the syllable breaks and
highlighted it with a different colored marker. The teacher closed the lesson by asking students to build their own short
vowel closed syllable words using the pre prepared words on the sticky notes stuck to the white board. Students shared
their words with the group.

My Observation:
During the discussion, most students were paying attention and actively participated. Many of those who raised their

hands for response are the same students. There was a spark of interest and excitement when teacher asked the
students to clap out the syllable for each word.

Introducing students to letter and sound relationship builds a good foundation into learning how to read as well as
building vocabulary. Allowing students to sit on the floor makes peer to peer discussion easier as students can just turn
to the person next to them. Allowing the students to clap their hands along with the syllable of each word is a good
technique to counter boredom, provide variation, and address other learning styles. This is also something that they
can do on their own. Asking students to build their own words is a good assessment tool and will provide clear
observation that the objective has been met.
The mini lesson is somewhat uninteresting and can easily lose students interest. The lesson did not have many visual
aids to accompany the concept which can be very helpful. Many of the students who raise their hands and are called
for response are the same students which do not provide fair and equal opportunity for other students. This could also
lead to students losing interest and not pay attention. I would also like to see more variation in practice of concept


I made some words to build on our mega blocks. I had two of

my groups build the words and write them. The other two
groups just built the words and read them to each other in the