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Literacy Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Knowing the learner

The Ready to Read Phonics Plus books have recently been developed to support instructional reading and focus on explicit teaching of word recognition knowledge and skills. We recommend teachers of children in early years use these books to support early literacy development in the classroom.  

Please note over the coming months we will be making changes to existing content on Literacy Online to ensure current early literacy teacher supports place a sufficient emphasis on word recognition. Throughout this process you may find content has been changed or has been moved. Please let us know by emailing [email protected] if you cannot find something you are looking for and keep an eye on the newsreel for links to newly updated content. We welcome any feedback that will help us make it easier for you to navigate the changes.

Sound Sense logo.

Sound Sense: Supporting reading and writing in years 1–3 is a revised and updated edition of Sound Sense: Phonics and Phonological Awareness (2003). 

You can download the new PDF here: 

The ability to hear the different sounds within words is essential to reading and writing successfully. Sound Sense provides suggestions for how you can support students, particularly year 1 students, in developing and applying understandings about sounds, letters, and words when reading and writing.

The suggestions are closely linked to the expectations for students’ learning described in  The Literacy Learning Progressions for the first year of school. They include links to specific Ready to Read shared texts, including poem cards. You can find many more suggestions for building and consolidating these understandings in the teacher support materials for all Ready to Read guided texts.

Sounds and Words – a clarification

Sound Sense provides suggestions for how teachers can support students in years 1–3 to develop and apply understandings about sounds, letters, and words when reading and writing.

Sounds and Words is a different online resource, for teachers of students in years 1–8. It has a wider focus than Sound Sense. It provides information about vocabulary and grammar as well as phonological awareness and also includes a summary of the resources available to teachers.

Making rhymes and playing with words is one of the most reliable indicators that children are getting control of language. They are becoming aware of words and sounds and can manipulate these to express themselves – and to impress others!

Cunningham, 2005, page 9
Child reading with teacher.

Activities such as reading, writing, reciting, singing, and playing word games develop students’ abilities to recognise rhymes and distinguish sounds within words. Such activities, along with the specific suggestions included in Sound Sense, provide many opportunities to monitor students’ developing phonological awareness and confidence with specific aspects of phonics.

Assessment and monitoring opportunities include:

  • observation and discussion during reading and writing sessions and when the students are working on independent activities
  • analysis of the students’ written work
  • analysis of running records
  • information from the six-year net in An Observation Survey of Early Literacy Achievement (Clay, 2013)
  • occasional simple and specific spelling tests, for example, asking the students to write four words that rhyme with “in”.

Updated on: 29 Mar 2021