What are Sound Buttons in Phonics?

free phase 2 phonics games Free phonics games for time for phonics kids UK children EYFS KS1 phase 2 3 4 5

Sound buttons are little spots or circles that can be placed or written below sounds in words to help children with reading skills. Each sound button denotes an individual phoneme and helps the children to use their phonics blending and segmenting skills by identifying the individual phonemes or sounds within a word. For example in the word sh-ee-p, the sound buttons would go underneath sh, ee, and p, so there are three sound buttons in total. This is a really key skill for helping children with their phonics blending, as otherwise they may pronounce each sound as an individual phoneme, when in fact they are digraphs.

How do free phonics games help children to use sound buttons?

Using our free online phonics games, children can use their blending skills to blend the words together to figure out which ones are real words, and which ones are nonsense words. If they are already familiar with using sound buttons, they will easily be able to blend the word together by understanding which sounds are digraphs, trigraphs or individual letter sounds.

Free phase 2 phonics games

In our free phase 2 phonics games, children need to learn the pronunciation of the letter sounds to read simple words. The Phase 2 sounds are: 

Set 1: s, a, t, p
Set 2: i, n, m, d
Set 3: g, o, c, k
Set 4: ck, e, u, r
Set 5: h, b, f, ff, l, ll, ss

The following words can NOT be decoded using phase 2 sounds but are meant to be learnt at this stage of phonics learning.

Tricky words: I, no, go, to, the.

When children learn each new sound, they should be encouraged to blend the letters together to make new words. There are actually quite a large amount of words that children can learn even with the phase 2 set 1 and 2 sounds. For example: sat, tap, pat, Sam, mat, dad and many more. A great way to encourage children to blend these sounds together is playing our free phase 2 online phonics games.

Space Farm - Phase 2

Phase 3 phonics games

In our phase 3 phonics games, children need to learn the pronunciation of the phase 3 sounds in order to play the games and decide which words are real, and which words are nonsense. They also need to keep on using and revising their phase 2 sounds. Phase 3 usually lasts around 12 weeks, and there are 25 new sounds to be learnt. The phase 3 sounds are:

Set 6: j, v, w, x

Set 7: y, z, zz, qu

Consonant digraphs: ch, sh, th, ng

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

Do sound buttons work for tricky words in phase 3?

The phase 3 tricky words are NOT decodable, certainly not with the sounds that children would know at that stage, and therefore you can’t use sound buttons to help children read these words. The phase 3 tricky words are:

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

You can use our free phase 3 online phonics games to help children to learn and blend the phase 3 sounds.

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Free phase 4 phonics games

During phase 4, children will focus on reading words with adjacent consonants, as well as consolidating their knowledge of phase 2 and phase 3 sounds and graphemes. By this time, children should be able to blend quite a large number of words using their phase 2 and phase 3 sounds, as well as reading some short sentences which include the tricky words. No new sounds are introduced in phase 4, it is more an opportunity for children to learn how to read and spell words with adjacent consonants.

Phase 4 tricky words

  • said
  • have
  • like
  • so
  • do
  • some
  • come
  • were
  • there
  • little
  • one
  • when
  • out
  • what
phase 4 online phonics games for kids interactive phonics games EYFS KS1

Free phase 5 phonics games

By phase 5, children should be able to blend and segment words with adjacent consonants, as well as some polysyllabic words (words with more than one syllable). They will be taught some new graphemes to represent sounds that they have already learnt a grapheme for. For example they need to know that the sound “ai” in rain can also be represented by the graphemes ay, a, and a-e (also known as a split digraph). Children can practise these sounds in our free phase 5 online phonics games.

By this time, many children will actually be reading by sight without the need to blend words together.

Phase 5 tricky words

  • oh
  • their
  • people
  • Mr
  • Mrs
  • looked
  • called
  • asked
  • could
free phase 5 phonics games Free phonics games for time for phonics kids UK children EYFS KS1 phase 2 3 4 5

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