Definition: The correspondence between the sounds of spoken language and the letters or letter combinations used to represent them in written language. Children use their knowledge of these relationships to read and write words.

Why it matters: Knowing there are systematic and predictable relationships between written letters and spoken sounds helps children to recognize familiar words accurately and automatically, and to decode new words. When reading, students apply phonics to decode printed words; when spelling, students apply phonics to encode spoken words.

Features a chart with the 44 English language phonemes and the letter combinations that correspond to those sounds. Distinguishes between "stretchy" and "bouncy" sounds in consonants.

Emphasizes the CVC rule while teaching short vowel sounds found in 3-letter words. Models the segmentation of words into individual letter sounds and the blending together of phonemes.

Provides insight into students' phonics understanding through inventive spelling patterns. Encourages students to generate words, showing their knowledge of letter-sound relationships.

Literacy How > 

Includes links to assessments for measuring phonics skills. These assessments often include nonsense words to measure students' decoding skills. It also provides specific tips for ELLs.

Reading Rockets >

Reading Rockets provides resources for teachers to select books that have particular phonics features. Students practice phonics at their various reading levels while teachers differentiate instruction. >

Gives answers to common questions regarding phonics and reading development. Provides succinct explanations of what phonics is and why it matters. Neatly summarizes research findings.  


Provides a grade-level guide for grades PK-6 that outlines the progression of phonics competencies for the classroom. Gives examples of mastery and reproducible activities.


Provides a set of downloadable, explicit phonics lesson plans from West Virginia Reading First. Lessons range from the CVC rule to practicing consonant blends and multisyllabic words.

Teach Your Monster to Read builds essential reading skills, including blending and segmenting, and engages early readers in a magical three-step journey. A free, web-based version of an award-winning platform.

Wonster Words allows children to interact with letters and funny monsters while learning how to spell and sound out new words through phonics, consonant blends, word families, diphthongs, and digraphs.

Teaching Decoding
L. Moats

Defines the four stages of developmental reading. Advises for systematic, explicit, and exploratory phonics instruction that is focused on pattern recognition and not rule memorization.

How Spelling Supports Reading: And Why It Is More Regular and Predictable Than You May Think
L. Moats                    

Discusses how learning to spell and learning to read rely on shared knowledge about phonics. Provides an overview of grade-appropriate spelling content and strategies for grades K-7.

Systematic Phonics Instruction Helps Students Learn to Read: Evidence from the National Reading Panel's Meta-analysis
L. Ehri, S. Nunes, S. Stahl, & D. Willows

Summarizes the NRP’s findings in 2001, specifically in relation to phonics. Recommends systematic phonics instruction as a means to effective reading, based on scientific evidence.

Phonics Instruction for Middle and High School ELLS
K. Robertson and C. Colorado

This article contains the National Reading Panel's findings that are specifically related to phonemic awareness instruction.

Phonics and Word Recognition Instruction in Early Reading Programs:
Guidelines for AccessibilitY

D. Chard and J. Osborn

Provide guidelines for selecting accessible reading programs for students with reading disabilities that strategically address the alphabetic principle and other key phonics elements.

Words Their Way: Word Study for Phonics, Spelling, and Vocabulary Instruction
D. Bear, M. Invernizzi, S. Templeton, &          F. Johnston

Provides a research-based and developmental approach to phonics, vocabulary, and spelling instruction. Asserts that spelling provides teachers insight into their students' ability to decode.

Why Johnny Can't Read: And What You Can Do about It
R. Flesch

Presents a case for a phonics-based approach to teaching children how to read and includes lesson plans. A landmark text in the history of explicit phonics instruction in American schools.

Making Sense of Phonics: The Hows and Whys
I. Beck and M. Beck

Contains reproducible classroom materials and research-based explanations for building students' decoding skills. Sequential lessons start with simple CVC words and increase in complexity.


Bear, D., Invernizzi, M., Templeton, S., & Johnston, F. (2008). Words their way: Word study for phonics, spelling, and vocabulary instruction (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Beck, I. & Beck, M. (2013). Making sense of phonics: The hows and whys (2nd ed.). New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Chard, D. & Osborn, J. (1999). Phonics and word recognition instruction in early reading programs: Guidelines for accessibility. Reading Disabilities Research and Practice, 14(2), 107-117. 

Ehri, L.C., Nunes, S.R., Stahl, S.A., & Willows, D.M. (2001). Systematic phonics instruction helps students learn to read: Evidence from the National Reading Panel's meta-analysis.  Review of Educational Research, 71(3), 393-447. 

Flesch, R. (1986). Why Johnny can't read: And what you can do about it. New York, NY: Harper & Brothers.

Moats, L.C. (2006). How spelling supports reading: And why it is more regular and predictable than you may think. American Educator, 29(4), 12–22, 42-43. 

Moats L. C. (1998). Teaching decoding. American Educator, 22(1), 42–49. 

Robertson, K. & Colorado, C. (2009). Phonics instruction for middle and high school ELLS