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Phase 3 Phonics: The Lazy Teacher’s Guide

Updated: Feb 21


Phase 3 phonics is usually taught in Reception class and takes children about 12 weeks to cover. It introduces children to the remaining, more difficult and/or less commonly used phonemes. Here's an overview of what phonics is, what’s taught at phase 3 and some tried and tested blending and segmenting activities…


Words are made up of sounds called phonemes. A phoneme can be represented by between one to four letters (graphemes), such as 'igh' in light, or 'a' in man. Phonics teaches children each of these sounds and how to use them to read and spell. If you need some new and exciting phonics resources, click here! *

Blending is when children say the sounds that make up a word and then merge them together until they can hear what the word is, e.g. c-a-t = cat. Blending plays a very important role in the journey to becoming a fluent reader.

Segmenting teaches children to recognise the segments that form a word. It is when children ‘stretch’ out a word and then break it up into sounds, e.g. dog = d-o-g. This enables them to spell words. Segmenting is the opposite of blending in phonics.


The purpose of phase 3 phonics is to teach another 25 graphemes, most of them made up of two letters (e.g. sh, oa). The new graphemes are: j, v, w, x, y, z, zz, qu, ch, sh, th, ng, ai, ee, igh, oa, oo, ar, or, ur, ow, oi, ear, air, ure, er.

Children also continue to practise blending and segmenting, applying their phonics knowledge to reading and spelling simple two-syllable words and captions. During phase 3 phonics, they will learn the letter names by singing the alphabet song, plus some more tricky words! The tricky words are: he, she, we, me, be, was, you, they, all, are, my, her.


Phase 3 phonics activity with toy car
Drive and Blend


•Make a word using magnetic letters, spacing the sounds out.

•Send a pull-and-go toy underneath the word, saying the sounds as it passes by!

•Blend to read the word.

Ball used for blending to read words
Football Phonics


•Write a word on the ground using chalk.

•Bounce the ball on each sound, saying it out loud.

•Blend to read the word.

•Alternatively, you could use bean bags and toss one onto each sound.


phase 3 phonics activity using magnetic letters and playdough
Press and Blend


•Roll the playdough into balls.

•Give each child 3 or 4 balls, depending on how many phonemes the words you are working on contain.

•Say a word to the children, e.g. goat.

•The children squash their playdough balls as they segment the word, g-oa-t.

•Segment to spell: place magnetic letters underneath to spell the word.

toy rocket used to help with phonics segmenting
Rocket to the Moon


•Say a word to the children, e.g. 'moon'.

•Ask the children to make their toy plane/rocket take off. Say the sounds in the word as it goes, m-oo-n.

•Repeat with different words.

•Segment to spell: write the words on a large piece of paper.


•TRICKY WORDS are also known as common exception or irregular words.

• Tricky words contain letter-sound correspondences that the children have yet to learn, for example, ‘was’. The ‘a’ corresponds to the phoneme /o/ which is unusual for children who are working at phase three phonics.

•With tricky words, focus on the sounds that children know first and then look carefully at the tricky part.

•Highlight the tricky part of the word using a different coloured pen or a highlighter. Alternatively, you could underline the tricky part.

•You could encourage the child to draw a picture in the tricky part of the word, to make it easier to remember.

These activity ideas and many more can be found in my phonics books on Amazon. ‘Blast-Off with Blending’ and 'Soar with Segmenting are both available in paperback and eBook versions - just click on the images to take you there!

phonics guide to blending
phonics guide to segmenting

phonics guide
phase 3 phonics activity book

* As an Amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

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