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Phonics Screening:
The Best Ways To Prepare Your Students

Phonics resource & games
Need some ideas to prepare your class for the Phonics Screening? Not to worry, we have some really great educational activities that are perfect for the classroom!

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What Is The Year 1 Phonics Screening Check?

The phonics screening check is put in place to assess Year 1 reading levels. Students are given 40 words which they have to read (decode) during the test. Most of these words are real, however there are a few pseudo words in the list. 

The pseudo words that are there are marked with an alien to show that it is a pseudo word (often called alien words).

The test is divided into two sections. The first section is the easiest as students are required to recognise simple word structures like grapheme-phoneme correspondences.

The second section is a little more difficult as students will need to recognise grapheme-phoneme correspondences from later in the curriculum. They will also face graphemes that relate to more than one phoneme.

The screening isn’t timed, however it usually takes around 10 minutes for each child. 


Try Emile!

Emile is a fantastic online resource for students! Fun and interactive games will ensure that your pupils love learning phonics!

Phonics with Emile engages young children to practice their reading based on the 6 phonics phases of Letters and Sounds. 

Your students will be fully prepared with Emile – even with pseudo words! Why not try Emile today and get your students ready for the phonics screening?

Here is an example of a phonics game featured on Emile!

As you can see from the picture on the right, Emile has achieved great results in phonics! Students results have clearly shown vast improvement in just 2 months!

phonics improvement

Why not try Emile out today?

Practise, Practise, Practise!

The best way for your students to prepare for the phonics screening is to practise! I’m sure that you already know this, but what are the best ways to get them practising?

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  •  Anchor Charts – there are many ways to incorporate anchor charts into the teaching of phonics. For example, the silent E anchor chart! Here you have a list of words with no E on the end. Students can then hold up an E at the end of the word and see how it changes the pronunciation! For example, slim becomes slime!
  •  In class phonics screening – why not conduct your own phonics screening check with your pupils? This way you can get your students practising their phonics whilst getting them familiar with the phonics screening structure. You can also see what specific progress each student may need to make!
  • Beginning sounds chart – this is a table of all the beginning sounds of words! Your students can build lots of different words using this chart, giving them a chance to practise their phonics skills!

Slap The Letter

This activity is a little bit silly, which ensures the engagement of your pupils!

Pupils love an opportunity to act silly and have fun in the classroom. This activity is guaranteed to get your students excited about learning phonics. 

To do this you just need a list of words (in big writing) and something to hit each letter with (maybe a fly swatter?) Then, your students can take turns slapping each letter and then making the sound that that letter represents!

This is a really great way to get pupils sounding out letters and engaging with phonics content.


Swap Just One!

This is another super fun game that will get your students learning their phonics effectively!

Get some letter tiles and have your students make words. Then ask them to swap out just one letter in order to make a new word!

This is a great way of getting students familiar with the decoding of words, which is perfect preparation for the phonics screening check!


Alien Words

This interactive video is really great to show your pupils before the phonics screening check. It familiarises them with pseudo words (alien words), which is great preparation! Their channel has many great resources for your younger pupils.

Phonics Cups

Get a few stacks of plastic cups and ping pong balls and play a fun phonics game with your class!

Label each cup with a different letter blend and have your students throw the ping pong balls into the cups. Whatever cup the ball lands in represents that letter blend. The student then has to come up with a word based on that!

This is yet another really great game to engage your students and get them practising their phonics. By doing this, they are improving their skills for the phonics screening check!


Walk Out The Word

This activity is great for your active learners! 

Use some pavement chalk and write out some words on the playground. Then have your pupils sound out each letter as they hop across the word. Once they’ve read out all the letters they can shout out the word they have walked on!

This is a really creative and interactive activity for your class which they will love! A chance to go outside during lesson time is always a treat for students!

Lock And Key

This is a really fantastic trial and error activity!

All you need are some padlocks and keys. Label the keys with beginning sounds and label the locks with word endings. 

Students can then put together different combinations and make multiple words. This is an excellent way to get your pupils practising their phonics ready for the phonics screening!


The phonics screening check is nothing to worry about! As long as your students are practising their phonics regularly and they are engaging with the content, you should be just fine. Of course, we recommend using Emile to achieve the absolute best results for your students!

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