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Phase Three

Phonics - Phase Three


By the time they reach Phase 3, children will already be able to blend and segment words containing the 19 sounds taught in Phase 2.

Over the twelve weeks which Phase 3 is expected to last, twenty-five new graphemes are introduced (one at a time), most of which consist of 2 letters. The children will now know one representation of each of 44 phonemes.  Knowing these new sounds will help them to spell two syllable words.


Phoneme means the smallest unit of sound. There are 44 phonemes in English. Phonemes can be put together to make words.


Grapheme means the way of writing down a phoneme. Graphemes can be made up from 1 letter e.g. p, 2 letters e.g. sh, 3 letters e.g. tch or 4 letters e.g ough.


Knowing a GPC (grapheme-phoneme correspondence), means being able to match a phoneme to a grapheme and vice versa.


Set 6: j v w x

Set 7: y z, zz qu

Consonant digraphs- ch, sh, th, ng

Vowel diagraphs- ai, ee, igh, oa, oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, ure, er


Digraph means a grapheme containing two letters that makes just one sound (phoneme).


Trigraph means a grapheme containing three letters that makes just one sound (phoneme).


Graphemes Sample words Graphemes Sample words
ch chip ar farm
sh shop or for
th thin/then ur for
ng ring ow cow
ai rain oi coin
ee feet ear dear
igh night air fair
oa boat ure sure
oo boot/look er corner


Children will continue to develop blending and segmenting skills throughout Phase 3.

Blending- This involves looking at a written word, looking at each grapheme and using knowledge of GPCs to work out which phoneme each grapheme represents and then merging these phonemes together to make a word. This is the basis of reading.


Oral Segmenting - This is the act of hearing a whole word and then splitting it up into the phonemes that make it. Children need to develop this skill before they will be able to segment words to spell them.


Segmenting - This involves hearing a word, splitting it up into the phonemes that make it, using knowledge of GPCs to work out which graphemes represent those phonemes and then writing those graphemes down in the right order. This is the basis of spelling.


During Phase 3, the following tricky words (which can't yet be decoded) are introduced:

he, she, we, me, be, was, you, they, all, are, my, her