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Best phonics learning tools

9 of the best phonics tools
Want to practise phonics at home? We’ve picked some of the best games, apps, tools and books to help you reinforce what your child is learning at home – the fun way!

My First / My Second Phonics Sound Puzzle

Introduce your child to the concept of synthetic phonics before they start school with a wooden ‘sound’ puzzle. Your child can replace one of the chunky pieces (easy for little hands to hold) to hear the phonic sound of the letter or digraph, the name of an object or animal relating to that sound, and a sound effect. They can also use the pieces to make short words.

My First Phonics Sound Puzzle and My Second Phonics Sound Puzzle, £19 each

Mr Thorne Does Phonics YouTube channel and iPhone apps

Mr Thorne Does Phonics

Recorded by a Year 1 teacher, the Mr Thorne Does Phonics videos have been a YouTube sensation – there are over 500 free literacy resources featuring Mr Thorne and Geraldine the Giraffe. Each of the phonics sounds is explained and appears on screen, and you can also watch Mr Thorne videos about high frequency words and spelling.

The Mr Thorne videos and games are now available as iPhone, iPad and Android apps. Letters and sounds, blends and spellings and words are all covered; the apps are priced from 49p to £3.99.

Jolly Songs book and audio CD

Jolly Songs book and audio CD

You might have heard your child singing some of these songs already, as so many schools use them. Each of the 42 phonics sounds has a song, sung by children on the audio CD which comes with the explanatory book. The tunes are very catchy, and we can guarantee you’ll be hearing them (a lot!), singing them and then desperately trying to get them out of your head!

Jolly Songs book and audio CD, £9.95

Oxford Owl Phonics storybooks

Oxford Owl Phonics storybooks

Learning phonics is a means to an end – learning to read!

Help your child put their learning into practice and get excited about stories again with one of these phonics eBooks on the Oxford Owl website. There are over 150 to choose from, all free to read and ranging in reading level from 1 to 7.

TheSchoolRun Phonics learning packs

Written by a teacher (and mum of two), TheSchoolRun’s downloadable phonics resources are designed to help you understand everything you need to know about phonics as a parent – and suggest some easy ways to help your child practise phonics at home.

As well as free phonics activities there are two subscriber-only learning packs about phonics on the site. Fabulous phonics comes with 50 worksheets to print out for your child; if you’d rather practise through play the ten printable board games in Phonics games offer lots of opportunities for the whole family to compete to test their phonics knowledge.

Personalised phonics word pads

Help your child get to grips with high frequency words with themed word pads, personalised with their name and ready for colouring and first writing. Each activity page has a focus on one important phonetic keyword. Girl- and boy-themed word pads are available for Reception children; a more advanced pad is aimed at Year 1 children.

Ustar personalised word pads, £12.99

abc PocketPhonics iPhone / iPad app

Your child will love the cheering pencils; you’ll appreciate the fact that they can practise phonics on the go with this app. A fun and engaging combination of letter and sound pronunciation and writing practice, abc PocketPhonics helps your child sound out letters and teaches 170 simple words. You can customize the app for different children or stages of learning, and try out the Lite version for free before you buy. The perfect game app for when you’re queueing in the supermarket / stuck in a traffic jam!

abc PocketPhonics iPhone / iPad app, £1.99

For lots more great phonics apps for kids, read our parents' guide.

Teach your Monster to Read digital flashcards

Help your child experiment with sound patterns and spelling with this free tool – digital phonics flashcards (for use on laptops or desktop computers only). Select the grapheme you want to show and click the tick to get started; there are picture prompts and articulated phonemes too.

You can also print off a chart of phonics sounds arranged in the groups they are taught in.

Teach your monster to read

A free online game from the Usborne Foundation, Teach your monster to read (First steps and Fun with Words) uses mini-games to help children develop the speed and accuracy with which they recognise graphemes (letters). They'll also have the opportunity to practise blending sounds to read a word, looking at tricky words and segmenting words into the sounds they're made by.

Fun With Words provides children with the next set of key building blocks to help develop their reading skills, introducing new graphemes and phonemes, new tricky words and lots more blending and segmenting practice too.

With the opportunity to customise monsters and lots of rewards this is sure to be a bookmarked favourite for beginner and early readers.

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