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Taking Phonics Outside

All of the recommendations for teaching phonics effectively  explain that we should be providing active, engaging and multi-sensory sessions for our children.  Where better then to teach phonics than the great outdoors! The Learning Lady has collected some simple ideas to use with your children, starting with very simple resources which are quick and easy to prepare.

 The Learning Lady on phonics outdoors…

“The idea of taking phonics outdoors isn’t rocket science- EYFS practitioners have been taking learning outdoors for years. With much more space to be active, out of the confines of the classroom, taking phonics outdoors is fun and enjoyable, and heightens  the engagement of many children who respond less favourably to the ‘cooped up’ method of teaching.  What enhances provision (including learning and teaching) are ideas which help children to become engrossed and engaged in their learning. These improve learning behaviour, outcomes and give everyone a really good time in the process. ”

Vests and Necklaces!!

For most of the games suggested below, the children will need ‘vests’ or ‘necklaces’ with phonemes or tricky words on them (depending on what is to be  taught).

The vests are nothing new and can be widely found in schools… but are often underused.  They are simple child sized tabards with waterproof slots to slip letter or word cards inside- ideal for use outside. Click here to see what they look like!

If you’ve got them….dig them out! If you are interested in buying a set, they are available from Yellow Door through the DfE’s match-funding scheme.

If funds are tight, you can make outdoor learning necklaces instead.

Put crudely, these are large A4 letter / word cards, laminated with a string ‘hoop’ added for the children to wear as necklaces around  their necks.

I’m sure at this point there is no need for me to add a health and safety warning about wearing a letter card as a necklace! All grown- ups reading this website are sensible enough to judge appropriate length of string to avoid unnecessary strangulation (but feel free to carry out a risk assessment if you’ve got oodles of free time to spare!!)

The added advantage of making the necklaces is that they can be hung around the school grounds, on fences or hedges, for the children to hunt down and find. Also, if they are laminated you can write and rewrite relevant words on the reverse of each necklace using a dry wipe pen.

Here are some basic letter / word cards to download…. or simply adapt some you already have.

phase 2 cards

phase 3 cards

phase 4 cards

Now you have a set of vests or necklaces, you’re ready to go!

Revise and Revisit (Phonemes or Tricky Words)

Running Readers

Hang the relevant necklaces around the outside area.  The practitioner says…

“Who can be the first person to run to the phoneme / word………” . The children ace to the relevant phoneme / word.

Even children who can’t quite remember will be reminded by following the other children. Repeat until the cildren are really warmed up!

Quickwrite With Chalk (no vests needed)

Give each child a piece of chalk and plenty of space. Hold up each letter / word first as a reminder

The practitioner says…

“As I say the sound / tricky word, can you write it as big as you possibly can on the floor?”

Great physical practise for motor control too

Repeat with “Can you write the letter/ word really, really small?”

Try this with pots of water and paint brushes on the floor instead of chalk

Action Phonics

Several children will need to be wearing the same phonemes / word vests for this game.

The children listen and respond to the instructions given by the practitioner. They should carry on moving until the next set of instructions for their sound / word is given. The practitioner says:

“If you are wearing ‘the’ ……. Jump / hop / stamp on the spot,

If you are wearing ‘oa’  ……. Jump / hop / stamp on the spot”….. etc.

Parachute Phonics

Several children will need to be wearing the same phonemes / word vests for this game.

The children should hold on to the parachute and shake gently.

The practitioner says a word / phoneme worn by some of the children.

All of the children lift the parachute above their heads.

The children wearing the stated phoneme / word run underneath the parachute and swap places. Play continues and can be extended by  increasing the number of phonemes / words swapping at the same time.

If you don’t have a parachute you can still play this game- just run and swap across the circle instead.

Throw and Catch Phonics

The children stand in a circle wearing their vests / necklaces.

The practitioner says a word / phoneme worn by one of the children and throws a ball to that child.

The practitioner then calls out another word / phoneme worn by a second child. The first child must throw the ball across the circle to the child wearing this word / phoneme. Play continues in this way.

Why not try beating the sand timer. Can everybody have a turn at throwing and catching the ball in 1 minute?

If throwing and catching is too difficult, why not roll the ball to one another instead

Enjoy playing these games and let me know how you get on!

More Phase 5 cards, practise and apply games to be added next week…















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