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Hi,

I'm really sorry to ask about phonics again but here goes: in my nursery class we currently do phase 1 phonics as a whole-class which seems to work well - but I'm very aware that for many of the activities it states 'in a small group'. I'm just wondering if others tend to do phonics as a whole class or in small groups, and if in small groups, when do you find time, as well as your other focused activities? Of course, we have other phonics going on through the day - songs & rhymes first thing, reading rhyming stories, making sounds up to stories etc but am aware of the guidance of 'daily, planned phonics activities'.

 

Thanks

Green Hippo x

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Hi,

I work in reception so don't know if any help but there are 4 staff (2 teachers and 2 nursery nurses) in my setting and we each have a group each (there are 45 children) at the same time - at the moment it's first thing but think going to change to just before lunch so can have short whole class input first related to theme/enhanced provision that week.

We have 2 groups on phase 3, 1 group which needs blending and segmenting practise and the group that needs further support. We find this works well but it depends on your staff. Sorry if not much help :o

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Again, I'm in reception and do very similar to Francoise. I know the pre-school on our site just does stories and singing as wholeclass and the activities in small groups. I'm sure someone else will be along with a more helpful answer!

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I'm in a nursery class to, doing Phase 1 as well, and loving it. We use RML as a whole school, and previously this was introduced with the nursery children. That stopped when I went in! The reception teachers have commented on the difference, that their current children have been keener and have picked up the letter sounds faster this year compared to previous years.

 

Anyway, I too do the same as you in terms of whole class phase 1 activities. I do try to do small group activites alongside this, but it is very hard fitting them in. I try to incorporate it more in other areas of provision and take a specific group of children to that activity over the course of the week, and then leave the activity available for children to access independetly. For instance this week in the sand, we have lots of objects relating to songs and rhymes buried in the sand. The children can then access it in their free play and when an adult has a spare 15 minutes they take a group of 4 children to the sand tray and do the activity as a small group (digging and identifying the object, then the related rhyme and then singing the song / rhyme). I have done the same but differentiated later in the year and started with the EAL and lower ability children with animals in the sand and we made animal noises, then with the middle abilty children I buried pairs of rhyming objects to find and match, the with the more able I buried sets of objects starting with 2 different initial sounds to find and sort.

 

It is hard trying to fit in small group activites, and do free flow in and out with only 2 adults, so don't panic! I also plan for some phase 1 activities to be done in key person groups as well - then it is smaller than whole class!

 

Hope I haven't rambled too much!

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Thanks for your replies. I've been thinking about this and discussing it with FS co-ordinator and TA's - I'm considering planning one phase 1 game (choosing from the ones that work for whole groups) per day, then plan 1 other small group game per week that can be played each day by a different group? This game could then be left out the following week for independent choice. We would also continue with songs, rhymes & action songs first thing in the morning. Therefore, the children would still be getting 'daily, planned phonics activities' and have the opportunity to access the smaller group activities as well? What do you think? I just can't think of any other way of doing phonics in small groups without it taking up our whole morning.

Thanks,

Green Hippo

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Thanks for your replies. I've been thinking about this and discussing it with FS co-ordinator and TA's - I'm considering planning one phase 1 game (choosing from the ones that work for whole groups) per day, then plan 1 other small group game per week that can be played each day by a different group? This game could then be left out the following week for independent choice. We would also continue with songs, rhymes & action songs first thing in the morning. Therefore, the children would still be getting 'daily, planned phonics activities' and have the opportunity to access the smaller group activities as well? What do you think? I just can't think of any other way of doing phonics in small groups without it taking up our whole morning.

Thanks,

Green Hippo

 

 

How many children are there in the whole group and how many staff do you have available in the setting?

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Could you move phonics to a time when they would all be available? That way you could just have small group phonics all at the same time rather than whole class and small groups. If that's not possible though then what you said ealier sounds like it would work well.

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Thank Kariana, I have considered this but it's getting increasingly hard to fit everything in! Can't wait for us to be open for 3 hours (have filled it already). We already have focused activity time in our key groups towards the end of the session and I feel if I ask them to do phonics on top of this, it's just too long for them all to concentrate in one big session. We do phonics as a whole group after tidy-up time and then have snack-time and then it's focused activity time - snack-time breaks this up. During the phonics time, one of the NN is not available so their is only 2 of us. The beginning of the session is not a good time as we do exercises straight after register & songs so that flows nicely to free-flow indoors/outdoors.

My other worry is that even if we did split into our key groups we have between 9 & 11 children so some of the small group activities would still not be particularly suitable or possible e.g. sound lotto where we only have 6 boards. Although we could avoid the ones that don't work. I just thought that if we split the class into 5 groups (e.g. 5/6 in each group) it would give up time to really focus on these children. I will play around with a few ideas in the next few weeks and see what works best for us.

When I went on the phase 1 phonics course with our LA they gave us a sample plan with 3 activities EVERYDAY!!! I'm really not sure how anyone can manage this without it taking up most of your session?? I'm not sure whether it was suggested more for Reception classes who are not at the phase 2 stage yet - so would last 20 mins-ish, like phase 2 phonics?

Lots to think about! If anyone has any other ideas or has discovered a way of doing phonics in small groups without it taking over, I'd love to read about it!

Thanks

Green Hippo x

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Hi greenhippo, perennial questions isnt it.. how do I find the time?

 

It might be helpful if you havent done this already to look at the phase one aspects and see which things are not naturally covered in your other daily activities (eg body percussion?). Then think about planning for those. Is there any reason why you can't use your focus time to be sometimes your phonics time?

 

Also if you have 28 children, and sometimes only 2 adults, you are out of ratio. Can you push to keep your NN so that you could have smaller groups of about 9?

 

I am also wondering what you mean by doing exercises after register and songs? Is it possible to start the day with self registration and then use that time for your phonics, or vary it throughout the week?

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Hi Mundia,

Thanks for your reply, we do self-register but the school like use to do a formal calling register as well so the children come into songs (with actions!) usually on IWB, then we do ther register and prayers (another reason why we have to be together at the beginning of the day). I'm reluctant to do phonics before register as children filter in slowly and 2 members are staff are always at the door to great children and speak to parents. Immediatly after register, we go outside with Reception to do 5 mins of exercises (e.g. sticky kids/dancing to music) as part of a keeping healthy programme that we started last term. As the children are already outside, this flows nicely into free flow - it's just very awkward to bring them all in, coats off, back on carpet and just seems to waste a lot of time.

Our ratios are 'offically' covered as we are a 'unit' so have 2 teachers and 3 NN in the setting, so even when we are a NN short we are ok.

I do incorporate phonics into some of the focused activities but as this is only one part of CLL, and of course I got to cover all the other areas of learning as well it seems very occasional, although I do try to link it to other areas of learning.

I am seriously considering trying to fit in key group phonics with our groups of 9-11 children and, like you said, concentrate on the activities that are covered in other ways and those that work best in this size of group?

Thanks again,

Green Hippo x

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My personal view is that some people have got really hung up over the phases and are making it more formal than needed. As hali says the activities in phase 1 can be fitted in anywhere any time with one child or a whole class or any number in between. It is good language development and we did it all the time without a second thought before it was labelled "phase 1"

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I totally agree Marion and Hali - it's incorporated into so many things that we do but there seems to be pressure from our LA to plan for it separately and to account for each child's participation in the activities. I feel that if I only plan it within CP that I would be worrying all the time about who's done what. We have recently moved away from doing Focused activities alongside CI play to avoid pulling children away from their self-initiated play, so I'm reluctant to start pulling children to do phonics. It's such a headache!

Thanks for your advice

Green Hippo

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Ok, I've come up with a plan! Taking into consideration what Marion highlighted about L & S not being statutory and finding a way that suits us.

I've decided to have 1 small group phonics activity for 5 or 6 children which will be introduced to these small groups through the week during CI time when an adult has a spare 5 mins. Later in the session, after tidy-up time, I will have one key group for a phonics activity, while the other 2 groups listen to a story and say/sing weekly rhyme and counting song or do circle-time. The key groups will be rotated so that 2 groups will have 2 phase 1 games per week, and the other group will have 1 - changed weekly so that it's a different key group each week that has just 1 game each week.

As well as ensuring that the phase 1 games are done with smaller groups of no more than 11, it also allows for a story session which I feel the children really benefit from (and we don't always get time for everyday). It will also give me a chance to introduce core books which I have been thinking about for a while e.g. possibly reading the same book through-out the week so children become really familiar with it. And, of course, sharing books and songs/rhymes are also part of phase 1 phonics - we can use rhyming stories, enliven stories etc

There is also an extra space suitable for the key groups which will be quiet so children can be fully focused (I was reluctant to have 2 or 3 groups doing phonics in the same (smallish) room as I find this distracting for both myself and the children for 'listening' games)

Not sure if that all makes sense?? I'm going to give it a go and see how we get on.

Green hippo x

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