The UK Phonics Screening Check
Do you have the SSP Spelling Piano app?
Ideal for children who are preparing for the UK Phonics Test! 

I would do a quick phonemic awareness check before using the UK screener if checking a child I'd never met before.

If a child struggles to segment these words I know there are some underlying PA issues I need to work on. These will prevent children from passing the UK Phonics Screening test just as much as an inability to identify the chosen graphemes. 



This is arguably more valuable to me regarding early identification of reading and spelling difficulties. 
This is why our pilot children did this at the end of week 4. 

Maya, as you can hear, has no issues! This footage shows that her brain is 'wired' to be ABLE to learn to read and spell.

When children use Duck Hands we can SEE how many phonemes they are segmenting the word into, as their phoneme production / articulation can sometimes be unclear (especially in a noisy classroom). 

I check children in week 2 of Prep/ Reception, so I am aware of my 'red alerts'. Nothing beats early intervention!
Use my PA screening tool. 

Miss Emma X

Use whatever you have around the house, to develop phonemic awareness!

I love using toys from IKEA. Here is a video with ideas for developing phonemic awareness, and another with a mention of accents.


Children learning using Monster Mapping are exploring the 350+ phoneme to grapheme mapping combinations used in real books; in 'decodable books', as in the UK Phonics Screener test, the graphemes are controlled and scaffolded, however, there are only around 100 used within the test. These are shown within the 4 SSP (Speech Sound Pics) Approach Code Levels. 


Traditional phonics programs have been used to explicitly teach alphabetic coding skills to beginning readers. However, these programs generally suffer from two major shortcomings. First, they tend to be strongly teacher-centred and have curricula that are rigid, fixed, and lock-step, with the same skill-and-drill lesson given to every child in the same sequence. Such an approach to teaching beginning reading conflicts with the basic principles of differentiated instruction because it fails to recognize that the individual literary learning needs of children vary greatly depending on their specific levels of development across the set of reading component skills shown in Figure 1. (See doc link below)

Second, most phonics programs incorrectly assume that children can only acquire knowledge of letter-sound patterns through direct instruction in which the teaching of letter-sound correspondences is explicit and systematic. The difficulty with this assumption, however, is that there are simply too many letter-sound relationships in English orthography for children to acquire by direct instruction, probably between 300 and 400 (Gough & Hillinger, 1980). Much, if not most, of what children learning to read in English come to know about its written orthography is acquired through implicit learning, especially knowledge of context sensitive letter-sound correspondences that depend on position-specific constraints or the presence of other letters (Bryant, 2002; Tunmer & Nicholson, 2011; Venezky, 1999). In contrast, letter-sound correspondences acquired by direct phonics instruction are fewer in number and are largely context free, involving one-to-one correspondences between single letters or digraphs and single phonemes.'

Australian Journal of Learning Difficulties, 24:1, 75-93, DOI: 10.1080/19404158.2019.1614081

And this is why our children explore these high frequency phoneme to grapheme combinations, however they also undertake activities ALONGSIDE this learning to enable children to fully explore 'the code'; the code that is needed to become readers and writers. 


Our children do this when they reach the SSP Purple Code Level, using ICRWY Monster Mapping readers.

See Bookshelf

However, this can cause an issue when folks create tests like the UK Phonics Screening Check and do not expect children to be exploring the Code fully. It is similar to the 'reading levels' that expect children to be reading at a very low level in Reception and Year 1. So they write the books as if older children are reading them! We stop at PM 25 in Prep, not because children can't read PM 25 - 30, but because the material has been created for children 2 or 3 years older.

When using the UK Phonics Screening Check children are 'expected' to only know 1 or 2 options to say each nonsense word. 
There is the expectation that the 'real' words are 'read' correctly, but these nonsense/ pseudo words can't have a 'correct' answer, really, because they are ...not real words. 

Teachers are told this.  


But there are only 2 acceptable pronunciations shown. How can that be? There are 108?
Struggling readers are likely to only know these choices. 
High fliers will know there are over 100. 


So how do teachers with gifted children record this, other than telling the child to stick to the 4 Code Levels. 


In the Blue Code Level they see /ea/ for peanut and /ea/ for head.


It is useful for teachers who use the IPA to see the phonetic pronunciation. This is why we use the Speech Sound Monsters - they are just an alternative to the phonetic symbols. 

/st/ is not a grapheme. The word 'feast' is segmented as f/ea/s/t


High frequency graphemes used in the test.


Monster Mats show the phonetic symbols underneath the top tiles which are just Monsters. 


We wish the symbols were all clearly phonetic symbols, and did not look like letters of the alphabet.  Children understand the difference however, especially if they have been working with them since they were 3! 

These Monster Mats and high frequency grapheme charts are in the Monster Mapping Kit Handbook. Get 1 of these with the Chant Strips, to pass the UK Phonics Screener Check as quickly as possible!


Order the Kit Handbook 

Monster Mapping Kit Handbook
logo_monster_mapping - Copy.jpg

The Speech Sound Monsters show children if they have pronounced the pseudo (nonsense) words correctly. 


Use the SSP Phonics Assessment Tools if you are a Training+ member

Miss Emma's SSP Decodable Reader Guide
On a device? Use this link