I have been using the Senior Infants Sounds in Focus programme since September last year.It uses a phonemic approach to learning how to read, write and spell. The main skills that the programme utilises are: Identifying Sounds, Counting Sounds, Segmenting and Selecting Graphemes. Within the Teaching guide, there are many and numerous activities for oral language, listening, attention, speaking, questioning and photocopiable resources available online to download to your own device.

Each class level has 36 units of work, designed to fit into the school year. Each unit is based on a specific phoneme(s), and with the teacher’s help and assistance, pupils explore the grapheme(s) that can be used to represent it. Each unit is given a thorough treatment in the Teacher Guide, which guides the teacher through a Monday-Friday schedule of work though it is not prescriptive and instead presents the weekly plan as a series of skill-based ideas.It covers not just teaching children to spell but also phonological awareness(rhyming, syllables, onset and rime) and phonemic awareness alongside handwriting and vocab development.

I am very impressed with this programme for various reasons:

  • The resources
    • List of recommended story books to go with each unit of sound being learned. This goes all the way up to 6th Class.
    • Clear and colourful flashcards to go with the sounds, list words and special words.
    • Teaching charts/posters
    • My book of words and sounds for the student.
    • Online, downloadable copymasters that include
      • Decodable reading books( based on the sounds and list/special words covered) that the children draw pictures for and teacher staples and child reads.
      • Pictures and activities-art, gamemasters, handwriting sheets, sound boxes, templates and write on cards.
      • Sample letters for parents
      • Learning to read and write-rationale behind the programme
    • Online area for the students to login with a code(teacher gives this to them) to supplement or revise work covered in the Sound in Focus programme.
  • Teacher Guide-the teacher guide is excellent with plenty ideas to keep your class focussed on the focus of the lesson.
  • Pupil book-We used the pupil book for Senior Infants. It focuses on initial sounds, medial and final sounds. The children really enjoyed it and the images and activities were challenging enough for EAL as well.
  • List words -are introduced as the child learns the corresponding sound in the list word for that week.
  • Special words-similar to high frequency words
  • Termly and yearly plans-Scope and Sequence for clarity and ease of use for the new and practicing teacher.
  • Assessment
    • Various assessment tools for end of year at Senior Infants(in my case) for sounds covered, list words and knowledge of initial/medial and final sounds.
    • Infant Classes Content Test
    • Class results checklist( based on results of the content test) is very simple to use and easy to interpret at a quick glance.

I really liked this programme and though I am not a big fan of textbooks I found the textbook was particular useful to assess where the child might be struggling. I really like the way it runs from Junior Infants up to 6th Class as a consistent approach to literacy will only benefit the students. I loved the resources that came with it online and they were used every day for literacy stations. The students worked very well with this approach with sounds, list and special words being remembered and used. The assessment tests will be ideal for my class towards the end of the year and also for ongoing assessment in your literacy lessons. If your school is using Jolly Phonics or a similar programme, then it might be an idea to take Sounds in Focus on as it not only supplements but has the ability to take over from the Jolly Phonics programme which may not have enough for the average class teacher.

Sounds in Focus is priced from €14.99 per pupil for a 12-month annual subscription. Prim-Ed can tailor the programme to best suit your school or individual classroom requirements. You can receive a free trial if you like as well. Prim-Ed representatives can call out to you to explain the whole programme. I was given complimentary Sounds in Focus products to trial and keep as part of the review process. Thanks very much to Prim-Ed.



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