Read Write Inc. Phonics

What is Read Write Inc?

Read Write Inc is a complete phonics literacy programme which helps all children learn to read fluently and at speed so they can focus on developing their skills in comprehension, vocabulary and spelling. The programme is designed for children aged 4-7. At Ladysmith, we begin the programme in the summer term of Nursery and will continue teaching RWI to children beyond the age of 7 if they still need support in their reading.

RWI was developed by Ruth Miskin and more information can be found by Parents - Ruth Miskin Literacy and Parent guide to Read Write Inc. Phonics - Oxford Owl

How will RWI be taught?

All children are assessed regularly (every 6-8 weeks) by our RWI assessment team so they work with children at the same level as themselves and their learning allows consolidation and fluency to develop. This ensures complete participation from all children in all lessons.


When appropriate, children will be introduced to the initial sounds in short five minutes sessions. With the main introduction of RWI taking place in the summer term before the children start school.


In Reception all children will learn how to ‘read’ the sounds in words and how those sounds can be written down. Reception children get off to a ‘quick start’ in September, after settling into their classes.


The children:

  • learn 44 sounds and the corresponding letters/letter groups using simple picture prompts – see below
  • Learn to orally blend using Fred talk with Fred the Frog
  • learn to read words using Fred talk and sound blending
  • read from a range of storybooks and non-fictions books matched to their phonic knowledge
  • Develop fluency in their reading by re-reading and consolidating their phonics knowledge
  • work well with partners
  • develop comprehension skills in stories by answering 'Find It' and 'Prove It' discussion questions
  • Have daily exposure to high quality texts from a range of authors
  • Become aware of how storytellers add expression to their voices


The children:

  • learn to write and form the letters/letter groups which represent the 44 sounds with the help of fun phrases and pictures
  • learn to segment the sounds in words so that they can write words by using Fred Talk
  • learn to build sentences by practising sentences out loud before they write


The children work in pairs so that they:

  • answer every question
  • participate fully in lessons
  • practise every activity with their partner
  • take turns in talking and reading to each other
  • develop ambitious vocabulary
  • learn to work collaboratively

 Year One & Year Two

Children follow the same format as Reception but will work on more complex sounds and alternative sounds in reading books appropriate to their reading level. Daily sessions of RWI phonics last for one hour. Once children become fluent speedy readers, they will move on to literacy lessons. The children progress through RWI using a ‘Stage not Age’ philosophy. This ensures that children progress further in the programme when they are ready and have the opportunity to consolidate and embed knowledge if they need to. Any children who are ‘falling behind’ will be identified quickly and given the extra support needed.


 Five key principles underpin the teaching in all Read Write Inc. sessions: 

Purpose – know the purpose of every activity and share it with the children, so they know the one thing they should be thinking about

Participation – ensure every child participates throughout the lesson. Partnership work is fundamental to learning

Praise – ensure children are praised for effort and learning, not ability

Pace – teach at an effective pace and devote every moment to teaching and learning

Passion – be passionate about teaching so children can be engaged emotionally.


Children will be taught how to read as follows:


Below is a link to a video where you can listen to how to pronounce the sounds we use to speak in English.

These are the sounds which your child/children will be taught through the RWI programme.

The sounds are split into three distinct teaching sets.

Parent video: How to say the sounds - YouTube

Learning To Blend Orally

Fred Talk

We use pure sounds (‘m’ not’ muh’,’s’ not ‘suh,’ etc.) so that your child will be able to blend the sounds into words more easily.

At school we use a puppet called Fred the Frog who is an expert on sounding out words! we call it, ‘Fred Talk’. E.g., m-o-p, c-a-t, m-a-n, sh-o-p, b-l-a-ck.

Throughout the programme, children are encouraged to blend the sounds in words together orally to hear the word which they make.


Click on the link below to hear Ruth Miskin (founder of RWI) talking about how we help children to hear the sounds, which build words, using Fred Talk.

 Click on the link below to see a tutorial; on how you can support your child with blending sounds:

Helping to blend

Learning The Sounds

Step 1

Set 1 Sounds are taught in the following order, together with rhymes to help children form the letters correctly and instantly recognise sounds ready for blending.

Set 1




Down Maisie then over the two mountains. Maisie, mountain, mountain.


Round the apple, down the leaf.


Slide around the snake


Round the dinosaur's back, up his neck and down to his feet.


Down the tower, across the tower,


Down the insect's body, dot for the head.


Down Nobby and over the net.


Down the plait, up and over the pirate's face.


Round the girl's face, down her hair and give her a curl


All around the orange


Curl around the caterpillar


Down the kangaroo's body, tail and leg


Down and under the umbrella, up to the top and down to the puddle


Down the laces, over the toe and touch the heel


Down the stem and draw the leaves


Slice into the egg, go over the top, then under the egg


Down the long leg


Down the horse's head to the hooves and over his back


Slither down the snake, then down the horse's head to the hooves and over his back


Down the robot's back, then up and curl


Down his body, curl and dot


Down a wing, up a wing


Down a horn, up a horn and under the yak's head.


Down, up, down, up the worm.


Down the tower, across the tower, then down the horse’s head to the hooves and over his back


Zig-zag-zig, down the zip.


Curl around the caterpillar, then down the horse's head to the hooves and over his back


Round the queen’s head, up to her crown, down her hair and curl


Cross down the arm and leg and cross the other way


A thing on a string


I think I stink

Please do not use letter names at this early stage.

Children will also use pictures for each sound to help recognise the sound and then form the shape of the sound.

Learning To Blend and Segment

Once children have learnt some sounds then they start to learn to blend the sounds together to read words and to segment sounds to write words.

For example; the first sounds which a child will learn are m, a, s, t, d. Once they know these sounds, they can use them to read and write the words mat, at, mad, sad, dad and sat.

Click on the link below to see a tutorial; on how you can support your child with blending sounds:

Parent video: Sound blending - YouTube


Sets 2 & 3:

Once children are very confident with all of Set 1 Sounds and can blend these sounds together to read words, they are then taught Set 2 Sounds and Set 3 Sounds - the long vowels. 

Long vowel sound

Set 2 Speed Sound cards

These are taught first

Set 3 Speed Sound cards


ay: may I play

a-e: make a cake

ai: snail in the rain


ee: what can you see

ea: cup of tea

e: he me we she be


igh: fly high

i-e: nice smile


ow: blow the snow

o-e: phone home

ao: goat in a boat


oo: poo at the zoo

u-e: huge brute

ew: chew the stew


oo: look at a book




ar: start the car




or: shut the door

aw: yawn at dawn



air: that’s not fair

are: share and care



ir: whirl and twirl

ur: nurse for a purse

er: a better letter


ou: shout it out

ow: brown cow



oy: toy for a boy

oi: spoil the boy




ire: fire fire!




ear: hear with your ear




ure: sure, it is pure?


 It is at these stages where letter names are used


Nonsense words (Alien words)         

As well as learning to read and blend real words children will have plenty of opportunities to apply their sound recognition skills on reading ‘Nonsense words’. These words will also feature heavily in the Year One Phonics Screening check in the summer term.

Ditties and Home Reading Books:

Children will be introduced to ‘Ditty’ pages and books when they successfully begin to read single sound words.

In school, in the initial stages, children use sound-blending (Fred Talk) to read short ditties. They will bring these home once they have read and discussed the book in class. Children will read a book three times and will never bring home a book that they have not already read in class. Children will not be expected to read a book in which they do not know the sounds or words; all the sounds and words that they need will be pre-taught to the child. This technique is used to build the child’s fluency and confidence in reading; embedding, and consolidating the knowledge that they have learnt.

As the children progress through the story book sequence, they learn and apply new sounds from Sets 2 & 3.

Within all the books children will have Red and Green words to learn to help them to become speedy readers. Red words are words that are not easily decodable and challenge words to extend children’s vocabulary. Green words are linked to the sounds they have been learning and are easily decodable.

Dots and dashes represent the sound each letter makes. Dashes are used when there is more than one letter in a sound.

During the RWI teaching sequence children will read the class book three times. During their final readings, they will have opportunities to practise using their developing comprehension skills by finding the answers to questions in the texts and sharing their thoughts on what they have read. Children will bring home a copy of this class book to show you what they have learnt and can read independently. They will also bring home a ‘Book Bag Book,’ alongside this, which uses the same words and sounds that they have been learning/using in class. This is the opportunity for them to apply what they have learnt. It is recommended that they again read this book a minimum of three times so they can become fluent and fully focus on their understanding of what they are reading

Within a session children will then be encouraged to use their developing phonic knowledge to write short dictated phrases (initial stages) or sentences. You may hear your child talking about ‘hold, build or edit a sentence.’

Hold a sentence is an activity that encourages children to remember a whole sentence while focusing on spelling and punctuation. Punctuation is not focused on in the initial stages so that all the focus is on applying the child’s knowledge of sounds.

Build a sentence is to give children the opportunity to create their own sentence that shows the meaning of a word.

Edit a sentence allows the children to critique a sentence using their knowledge of spelling punctuation and grammar. Children complete a longer piece of independent writing, which gives them the opportunity to show off their creativity and to practice their spelling, grammar and punctuation.


Phonics Screening Check Year One

What is the Year 1 phonics screening check?

The Year 1 phonics screening check is a short, light-touch assessment to confirm whether individual pupils have learnt phonic decoding to an appropriate standard.

It will identify the children who need extra help so they are given support by their school to improve their reading skills. They will then be able to retake the check so that schools can track pupils until they are able to decode.

Click on the link below to watch a video about the Year 1 Phonics Screening Check

Parent video: The Phonics Screening Check - YouTube