There are a variety of phonics websites and resources online but the ones listed here really stand out from the crowd…
We haven’t ranked them in any particular order because they’re quite different from each other, but we think they are all great in their own way.
Our favourite free sites are:
This is just one section of a larger site that contains a variety of free literacy activities and some free mathematics activities too. The site is supported by the Starfall Education Foundation, a non-profit organization.
You need to pay for an annual membership and mobile app if you want to access all of the content, but there are plenty of great free resources on there so this isn’t essential. There isn’t a lot of guidance about how to use the activities on the site, but they are quite easy to get the hang of.
The Learn to Read section contains multisensory and interactive stories and games. Your child can click on different words and objects in the stories and some of them become animated. Many of the words are also sounded out phonetically for your child. Some of the games also help with spelling as your child has to choose the right letters to complete words.
Our children really enjoyed using these activities when they were learning to read. They particularly liked interacting with characters like Zac the Rat, Peg the Hen and Gus the Duck. The words in the stories gradually get more complex as you move from one story to the next which means you can move on to the more difficult ones as your child’s phonics skills improve.
We would read some of the trickier words to our children and ask them to read others that were appropriate for their phonics skills at the time. They liked to click on the words after they had read them to see if they had sounded them out correctly.
Starfall isn’t a comprehensive reading programme in its own right, but it is certainly a good way to provide variety and reinforce key ideas.
There are other free sections on the site for more advanced readers such as ‘It’s Fun to Read’ and ‘I’m Reading’. These also contain interesting and useful resources and our children found these enjoyable too.
This site contains around 50 presentations that introduce the main phonics rules using a combination of videos and interactive slide shows. The videos also help children to understand the meaning of each word, so the site improves vocabulary and comprehension alongside phonics skills, which is fantastic.
The presentations are available in several different versions. For example, words can be sounded out and blended slowly or quickly and there is an option to let the child sound out each word first before the presenter says it. There are also review presentations for each section which is really helpful.
The site was developed by Larry Sanger, a co-founder of Wikipedia and is supported by a non-profit organisation. It wasn’t around when we were teaching our own kids to read, but if it had been, we would have definitely used it.
Reading Bear introduces some things in a different order than we do in our own reading programmes, and we’re not keen on the silent e section (we introduce these words as split letter teams). However, overall it’s a fabulous resource.
This award-winning phonics game is completely free to use on a PC and an app can be purchased relatively inexpensively for use with tablets.
The game is designed for children of primary school age in the UK. However, some of the activities in the Classroom Toolkit section would be suitable for using at home with younger children.
The site gives your child free access to a series of activities with a common storyline and increasing levels of difficulty.
The game was designed in collaboration with a team of academics from a UK university and it follows the same phonics strategy recommended for use in schools in England and Wales. If your child finds the first level of the game too easy, you can move them on to the next level using the parental controls.
Our youngest daughter was already reading fluently before we were aware of the programme, but we signed her up so she could try it out and she really enjoyed choosing her monster and playing the game. We think the game introduces tricky words too early, but this is common practice in many UK phonics programmes, and school-age children are likely to have encountered these words already in class.
Overall, we think this is a high-quality resource and children seem to enjoy the gaming format, but whether or not you decide to use it will depend on your attitude towards computer games for young children.
Like the other sites we’ve mentioned, Teach Your Monster to Read isn’t a stand alone phonics programme, but it’s certainly a good way of providing variety and reinforcing key ideas.