Welcome to the pre-phonics page where you can find pre-phonics activities, resources and links for learning at home.

Pre-phonics, or Phase 1 phonics, is intending to develop children’s listening, vocabulary and speaking skills. In order for children to be ready for pre-phonics they need to have early communication skills, developed through daily speaking and listening with those around them. These skills will include:

  • Understanding simple words, sentences and conversations.
  • Talking using words and sentences. This is often called ‘expressive language’
  • Saying speech sounds correctly so they can be understood by others.
  • Knowing how to use their language socially. For example, listening as well as talking, or talking to a teacher differently than to a friend. This is often called ‘pragmatic language’


Children will develop these communication skills when they are engaged regularly with adults modelling good listening and speaking, listening to songs and rhymes and being given opportunities to share their understanding. They will learn their core communication skills from the adults that are in their lives the most, which makes it very important to model the kind of speaking and listening skills that you want them to develop.

  • Listen to encourage talking: listen without interruptions, focusing on what is being said, give waiting time for responses.
  • Model good listening: make eye contact, ask questions, comment on what has been said
  • Provide a model for good speaking: use new vocabulary to help extend language, speak in clear simple sentences, repeat back  speech adding new words or more detail


A good document for teaching pre-phonic skills is the Department for Education’s Letters and Sounds“. This organises the pre-phonic skills into seven aspects and three strands.The seven aspects don’t have to be taught in order and can be adapted to the needs of the child.

Seven Aspects of Pre-phonics

  1. Environmental sounds – to raise children’s awareness of the sounds around them and to develop their listening skills.
  2. Instrumental sounds – to develop children’s awareness of sounds made by various instruments and noise makers.
  3. Body percussion – to develop children’s awareness of sounds and rhythms (e.g. clapping and stamping).
  4. Rhythm and rhyme – to develop children’s appreciation and experiences of rhythm and rhyme in speech.
  5. Alliteration – to encourage children to distinguish initial sounds in words
  6. Voice sounds – to distinguish between different vocal sounds and to hear separate sounds.
  7. Oral blending and segmenting – to recognise individual letter sounds and hearing that d-o-g makes ‘dog’


Each aspect is divided into three strands for developing different skills:

  1. Tuning in to sounds (the ability to detect similarities and differences when listening to sounds)
  2. Listening and remembering sounds (is the ability to recall information that has been given orally and recall in the correct order)
  3. Talking about sounds (developing vocabulary and understanding language)


By regularly engaging with games, songs and activities linked to these areas children will develop their listening skills, their awareness of sounds and phonetics. It should always be fun and children will get much more out of it if they are excited to do the activity – the more enthusiasm you bring, the more they will reciprocate. When they have mastered these skills, they are ready to begin phonics. However, if they struggle with some aspects, it is best to practise these further before moving on. As with any learning, the more practise that is done the better you get.

The buttons below will take you to pages with activities, resources, links and information for the different aspects of pre-phonics.

Nursery Rhymes

Instrumental Sounds

Rhythm and Rhyme

Pre-phonics - Voice Sounds

Environmental Sounds

Body Percussion


Oral Blending and Segmenting