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Fun Phonics


Combination Sounds, Digraphs and Bossy E

In over thirty years of teaching this is the most effective means I found of teaching sound combinations.


In addition to learning combination sounds quickly parents can help improve relationships & children's attitude to reading by using games.

This game produces fantastic results in just 2-3 minutes a day with all children I tutored, regardless of their initial ability.

Level 3:

The following combination letter sheets are some of the most commonly used digraphs.

lovely sweet and happy 6 years old daugh
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Please ensure your child knows all of their single sounds before continuing


There's no definite order to teach sounds. But for best results ensure your child knows all lower case single sounds before beginning combination sounds: digraphs.

​Th, sh, ch, ck, ay and ng are commonly used so are good sounds to begin with.

 I'd introduce each of these sounds with another obviously different combination like er, ee, or, oo.


N.B.  'Th' can make two sounds: th as in thin and th as in this. (Listen for the difference.)


When you present any letters ensure they're facing the child the right way up (because children can't tell the difference between b, d & p unless they're the right way up.)

  • Copy the digraph sheets.

  • Put all sheets together and cut along the lines (It'll take two minutes.)

  • Keep sounds together in two piles: Revision Sounds and New Sounds

J for Jellyfish
T for Turtle

You will notice that sometimes there can be a number of ways to produce the same sound. E.g.:

  •  'ee' (as in street)

  • 'ea' (as in clean)

  • 'ey' (as in donkey) and

  • 'e_e' (as in scene.)


I usually introduce capital letter recognition around the same time as I introduce bossy e (please refer to Bossy e below) which I do before before ie oi ue ou.

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On the above sheet there are some shown as vowel-vowel: a_e, e_, i_e, o_e, u_e. (As in ate, scene, site, note, use, etc)

Only the vowels can use their proper names; that being 'a' (pronounced ay), 'e' (pronounced ee), 'i' (pronounced eye), 'o' (pronounced oh),  'u' (pronounced you.)

A useful hint to help your child remember is:

When two vowels go walking,

the first one often does the talking

and it uses its proper name. E.g.:

  • ai as in pain,

  • ie as in pie,

  • oe as in oboe,

  • ea as in cream,

  • ue as in blue.

The Story of Bossy 'e.'


If 'e' is at the end of a word it gets really bossy. It jumps over the letter/or letters, in front of it (consonants) to get to the vowels (a,e,i,o,u.) It shakes it's finger at them and tells them to use their proper names.



'a' says 'ay,' as in state, pane, face

'e' says 'ee,' as in scene, theme, eve

'i' says 'eye,' as in pile, mine, site,

'o' says 'oh' as in phone, rode, hole

and 'u' says 'you' as in mule, fuse, ute

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How to make Fun Phonics fun


  • Revise all known single sounds (1 second per sound.)

  • Put each sound into the 'known' pile or 'revision' pile


Day 1.


1. Call out a revision sound (say z) and both players attempt to snap the sound before the other player.  Call out a different revision sound (say k) and both players attempt to snap the new sound before the other player. Repeat.

2. Introduce a new beginning blend sound like ch. Look at the different features of it. Discuss that sometimes when two letters meet they can make a whole new sound. In this case c and h make ch when you put them next to each other.


3. Repeat the game above using the new sound. (Say z, ch, z, k, ch, z, z, ch, k, k, z, ch etc) getting faster. You might even change letter positions to make it more challenging. Ham it up to make it fun.


4. The game continues until you're reasonably sure your child knows the three sounds involved.

Stop there.

Day 2

​5. Repeat the entire one minute revision flick check through all known single sounds and one digraph  previously covered. (Continue to do this on a daily basis. It'll take you one to two minutes a day.)


6. If they remember all sounds and the new blend introduce another digraph (like 'er.') (Say for example: ch, er, k, er, er, ch, er, ch, k, ch, er, ch, etc.) If they're finding it particularly easy you can introduce a second blended sound as long as it is obviously different to the others. Say: ay

7. You can repeat Step 5 and 6 over and over again over the following days and weeks, increasing the total number of blended sounds known.


Try to keep their success in perspective.


Because this is a very effective way of teaching children their sounds, it's easy to get carried away and want to keep adding more and more sounds before your child is ready. Please don't. Make sure they know each sound well (especially the blends) before you remove it from the snap pile to the revision pile.

Girl with Flower

So far we've learnt the easier and/or more frequently used digraphs. There are more complex digraphs in Level 4 to follow.

Go to the link below for more Phonics Fun

For FUN MATHS GAMES click on the links below:

Best Parenting is a high quality parenting website designed with child and family success in mind. This site provides free resources for busy parents who want the best practical advice possible on: effective child rearing strategies, easy healthy family meals, self-care tips for time-poor parents and fun learning games to help best educate children while also encouraging positive relationships within the family.

The best parenting advice regarding creating engaged learners is to make learning as much fun as possible. That's why games work best to revise new information. Children practise skills over and over in play situations, yet aren't even aware they're doing it. Best parenting provides many examples of quick and easy games to help develop both early reading and maths skills.


This site provides examples of what worked for me over decades and you are welcome to use these ideas as you see fit but you do so at your own risk. This site does not provide any guarantee that this information will work in every circumstance with every family or every child. It is your responsibility as a user of this site to ensure that you adhere to any recommended safety suggestions either implicit or explicit on this site and supervise your children while playing any games suggested. Best Parenting is not affiliated with any other groups, clubs, religious organizations or educational systems.


Best parenting takes time. The best parenting advice ever is simple: Do your best, don't give up and love your children, no matter what.

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