Play Makes Sense Phonics Cards on top of a chest a draws. An alphabet poster is hanging on the wall and a digraph poster is learning against it.

Phonics Sounds

Phonics Sounds

Phonics explained

How are there 44 sounds taught in phonics,
but only 26 letters? In which phase is each
sound taught? What order do I teach the
sounds? Keep reading to find out everything
you need to know about phonics...

Play Makes Sense Phonics Cards on a desk. Next to them is a poster of four digraphs. 

Letters and sounds

There are only 26 letters in the English
language, but 44 sounds. This is because
the letters can be combined to make
different sounds and some letters can
make more than one sound. Children are
introduced to new letters and sounds in
Phase 2, Phase 3 and Phase 5.

Phase 2 and Phase 3 phonics cards on a desk next to an alphabet poster.

Phase 2

Letters and their sounds are not taught in
alphabetical order. Letters and sounds are
introduced in a specific order to allow
children to begin to read and write lots of
words straight away.

The letters and sounds taught in our
Phase 2 pack are:

  • s/ss, a, t, p

  • i, n, m, d

  • g, o, c, k

  • ck, e, u, r

  • h, b, f, l/ll

Shop Phase 2 now

Mum and child sitting on the floor playing together. Phase 2 Phonics cards are next to them.

Phase 3

The remaining single letter sounds are
introduced as well as digraphs and trigraphs


The letters and sounds taught in our Phase 3
pack 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

Phase 3 activity card - ow is for flower. Next to the card are some books about plants and growing.

Phase 5

Alternative graphemes are introduced.
Children are taught different ways to write
the sounds they have learnt in the
previous phases. 


The letters and sounds taught in our
Phase 5 pack are:

  • /c/ - c, ch, ck, k
  • /e/ - e, ea
  • /f/ - f, ph
  • /j/ - dge, g, j
  • /m/ - m, mb
  • /n/ - gn, kn, n
  • /r/ - r, wr
  • /s/ - c, s, sc, se, st
  • /w/ - w, wh
  • /z/ - se, z, zz
  • /ch/ - ch, tch
  • /sh/ - c, ch, s, sh, ss, t
  • /ai/ - ai, a-e, ay, ei, eigh, ey
  • /ee/ - ea, ee, e-e, eo, ey, ie, y
  • /igh/ - i, ie, i-e, igh, y
  • /oa/ - o, oa, oe, o-e, ow
  • long /oo/ - ew, oo, ou, ue, u-e, ui
  • /yoo/ - ew, u, ue, u-e
  • short /oo/ - oo, our, u
  • /or/ - al, au, aw, or, our
  • /er/ - ear, er, ir, or, ur
  • /ow/ - ou, ow
  • /oi/ - oi, oy
  • /ear/ - ear, eer, ere
  • /air/ - air, are, ear, ere

Phase 5 Phonics Activity Cards spilling from box onto a child's desk.