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English, Phonics & Reading

English Support


English  - What do Y1 pupil usually focus on?

Over the year under normal circumstances we would work on the following areas of English:


Spoken Language

- Spoken Language (speaking/ listening/ drama etc)



- Word Reading 

- Reading Comprehension



- Spelling

- Handwriting and Presentation

- Composition

- Vocabulary, grammar and punctuation


Within each area we cover specific things. 

If you want to see the skills within each area please click here. 


Please find below some games and non-screen activities you could use to introduce these things. 


English Ideas






Which words should I write for my child to read?


In year 1 we read lots of different types of words. Some games might tell you which words to use but many of the games and ideas on this page are versatile and could be played time and time again once you have set them up.


Just change the word cards you use each time. 



Year 1 words you can use in word games. 




Common exception words 


the a to do go so no
is was are were his has be
he me she we they there where
our by my of I you your
here some come her all  have what



Any singular and plural words that have s or es at the end. 

These are some I thought of. 


hat dress box watch brush
hats dresses boxes watches brushes
spoon cross six branch dish
spoons crosses  sixes branches dishes





can't didn't  wasn't weren't aren't
isn't  she'll wouldn't I'll couldn't
he'll he's hadn't hasn't haven't
they're we're you're you've I've
it's she's I'm won't shouldn't


Words that you can add ing, ed, er, est and est to 


skip listen cook jump drive
dig jog eat play lead
long tall short heavy light



Phonics & Word Reading 




1. Play some of the word games listed in the link below


Wondering which words to put on the cards?

These are the words we have to read in Year 1, 

Many of the games are versatile.




2. Play charades. 


Write the following words on slips of paper 












Choose one slip of paper.  e.g. skip

Don't show your child. 

Act it out. 

Ask them to say the action. "skip"


Challenge - Give them a piece of paper with one of all three of the following endings on it to remind them what they are. 

- ed


- er


Get them to respond to your action as before and then say or write that action with all of the endings. e.g. for skip they would say jumper, jumped, jumping. You will need to show them how to do this before their turn. 


3. Word reading snakes and ladders. 


Make a game board on paper or stick words onto an existing game board if you have one. 


Use the words from the word banks at the start of this section - common exception words, contractions, singular and plural words etc. 


Play. Read the words as you land on them. 






 Spoken Language



1. Put on a show or make up a performance.

Make your puppets. 

Click here for more on this. 



2. Tell your story.


It might be what you have done, it might be a memory, it might be a story you have made up. 


Read to a pet or sibling. 

Read it to a friend or relative over the phone.                                      

3. Make a phone or walkie-talkie or play Chinese whispers

Pass messages to each other. 


Instructions can be found here. 


4. News reporter/TV presenter/Commentator.


Interview someone in your family.

Ask them questions and learn how to take it in turns to speak and listen.


<--This has some good ideas of topics and questions you could ask to get you started. 


Remember to show them you are interested by looking at them, smiling, asking further questions, nodding etc. 


What is going on outside?

What is going on in the house?

What is happening in the kitchen? 

5. Weather report


Draw a weather picture for each day.

Draw on weather symbols. 

ake up your own weather forecast for the day. 

You could predict what the weather will be in the next few days as well. 


Other great games can be found here





Word Reading Comprehension


1. Read a fiction book (story) a non-fiction book and a poem every week.                                                                                                        


2. Set up a shop

Read the food packets so you know what you have in the shop you have made.  

See if you can find any in a foreign languages.

Can you find some with any of the phonics sounds you have worked on?

You could find these countries on a map if you have one. 








Writing - Spelling


Which words should I write for my child to spell?


In year 1 we read lots of different types of words. Some games might tell you which words to use but many of the games and ideas on this page are versatile and could be played time and time again once you have set them up. Just change the word cards you use each time. 



Year 1 words you can use in spelling activities. 

The common exception words for year 1


the a to do go so no
is was are were his has be
he me she we they there where
our by my of I you your
here some come her all  have what



The days of the week

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday



We also spell words containing the phonics sounds you are working on currently.

(An exhaustive list would be too long but if you would like an example list look at column 3 in the following document) .



1. Rainbow Hop

Find instructions here 

Ways you could use this 

- Use it to learn the alphabet and the letter names

- Try writing common exception words on them instead

- Try writing phonics sounds on them

- Try writing numbers on them. 

- Try writing words that you can add ing, ed or er to make a new word. 

- Mix the letters or words up ask them to put them in alphabetical order. Can they beat their personal best/fastest time?

2. Sing the alphabet song  to learn the letter names. 


Write the alphabet in chunks singing as you go. 

e.g. abcdefg   

then  hijklmnop       

then    qrs     tuv   

then wxyz


Can you think of a word for each letter.

Encourage them to use their phonics to spell them. 

3. If you have a spare tin of alphabet pasta shapes, put them in a bowl and let your child fish out all of the letters of the alphabet. saying their letter names. Pretty messy but great fun. 


Challenge - can they catch the whole alphabet?

4. Scavenger hunt - find an object for every letter of the alphabet.


4. Compound word games and crafts. 


Match compound words


Make compound word flowers.

If your child doesn't like the idea of flowers, tweak it and draw racing car wheels or spiders instead (they just need a middle and sections around the centre. 


Make paper chains 



Teach them with blocks or Lego. Click here 







5.  Syllables games 


Clap syllables or you could get them to : 

  • jump up and down
  • tap their toes, march
  • do jumping jacks
  • touch their elbow to their knee
  • tap their head


Find something to use as a drum and beat the syllables in different words. If you are finding it hard to think of words, use the words in a story or words in the TV guide/listings. 

Build syllable lego towers 


Draw a simple noughts and crosses grid.

Ask your child to write words in the squares. 

If they cannot think of any you could draw or stick pictures from magazines or use leftover stickers you might have amongst your craft stuff to give them an idea of what to write without doing the work for them. Play syllable tic-tac-toe


Treasure hunt - find things in your home and sort them by the number of syllables in their name.


6.  Play a target game to work on prefixes. 


Write the following words on pieces of paper. 

Use them to make a route across the room or garden or arrange them on a wall, fence or the floor. As your child passes, touches or hits each one ask them to add "un" before them and explain the meaning. 


tie kind happy
tie true equal
healthy friendly broken


Explain that when we add un it changes the meaning. 

Teh prefix un means not or the opposite. 


e.g.  happy --> unhappy  (not happy)

e.g. lucky --> unlucky  (the opposite of lucky)



Handwriting and Presentation 


How to make handwriting fun video from Oxford Owl -  (Sadly this is screen based.)


How should letters be formed correctly/where should you start and finish?

 - (Sadly this is screen based.)


In school we use this guide from Phonics International. 



1. Work on lowercase letters, capital letter formation or the numbers 0-9 in creative ways 



First make a writing tray. All you need is a tray, tupperware box, storage box or plastic plate.

Put a thin layer of one of the following on it. 


Write with glow sticks in a tray of flour.
Write with a cinnamon stick in a tray of sugar.
Write with a straw in a tray of porridge oats. 
Write with twigs in a tray of dried beans.

Write in slime or glitter with your finger. 

Write in a tray of washing up liquid or shampoo with your finger. 

The possibilities for writing trays are endless!


Alternative - Make a paint bag

Other irresistable activities for reluctant writers can be found here. 



Or try these activities.




2. Floating Letters 


It says to use dry wipe.

It may also work with permanent markers on the kitchen foil but you will have to experiment and see. 


Instructions - Website 1 

Instructions - Website 2                                          

Instructions - Website 3          


3. Set up a writing desk somewhere inspiring

Find interesting papers and writing implements and write at your writing desk. Your handwriting is likely to be your best when you are sat at a table with your feet on the floor. 


Let your child write anything they like. 

You might suggest cards, lists etc. 


- in the garden

- in the shed like Roald Dahl did. 

- in your bedroom

- in another location of your choice. 








1. Make a book of your own out of paper.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Make a castle shaped book. 

Make a ‘flick book’ that tells a picture story

Make an i-spy book

Write a diary every day

Write a review of a programme on TV or a game you played for a friend to read

Write a letter, card or invitation to a friend to make them happy. 

Write about how different it is now and draw a picture to go in a time capsule



Writing challenges  - What to encourage in writing.


Have you used capitals and full stops? 


Can you include a question?


Can you mark your question with a question mark?


Can you add an exclamation sentence?


Have you used a capital letter for any names or places or days ot the week?


Have you used a capital for I if you are writing about yourself?







Vocabulary, Language and Punctuation 




1. Make a funky finger spacer and use it to write sentences. 


Either make up your own sentence or ask an adult to dictate a simple sentence to you.                                                                                                                                                                                 




2. Paper clip compound sentences


In year 1 we join ideas with and so don't worry about the other examples. 


Write simple sentences for your child to join together using the word and. 


e.g. I have been playing and I went for a walk. 



Find out more. Look for 'Paper Clip Your Clauses and Conjunctions!' on the website below. 


Other great games to use to introduce aspects of English