Phonics with a 4-year-old

If you’ve got a little one who is just starting to learn how to read and get the hang of phonics then today’s post is for you. Reader Viv got in touch to tell us about this super-fun project she set up for her four year old, Covey.

Over to Viv and don’t forget to click on the videos at the end of the post 🙂

Rrrrrrr – aaaaaaa – tttt… rat! There it was, the first word my 4-year-old read by himself. I think we both let out a little squeal in that special moment. And then he smashed his brother over the head with a dinosaur. #motherhood

There was nothing particularly special about that day. My 4 year old was sitting on the dining table with a new phonics game from school. He looked at “rat” and first he read it out in phonics, then the word just came out naturally, as if he’s always been able to do that.

Cat, dog, mud… 3 letter words were flowing out of this little boy as simply and magically as someone hearing for the first time. Only the day before we were still singing along to jolly phonics songs, and here he was, figuring it out just like that. Like clicking your finger. Or riding a bike. He had opened that magic door.

And this was the reason I created this project, #phonicswitha4yearold, I wanted to make learning to read with phonics fun for him. I drew up a few things on the computer that night and made a quick animated video. The next day I asked him to read out each word phonetically, and as he blends the sounds the illustration reveals the word he was saying. I loved seeing the excitement on his face when the word being read out matched the picture in front of him.
I put a few of these videos on Instagram, and soon it attracted a crowd of other mums who also happen to have a phonics-obsessed 4-year-old. It’s been a pleasure to experience the first blend of words with all of them, all over the world. We’ve even started to invite a few of their 4-year-olds to help be our voiceover guest, and what a joy it is to hear kids from here in England to Holland, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia to all over America, reading out each of these words. You could almost hear how proud they all are in their voices.

If you have a 4 or 5-year-old (we’ve introduced a slightly more advanced series now, with harder words demonstrated by 5-year-olds) who is also obsessed with the magic of phonics, come and take a look at what we’re doing at and join in with us at #phonicswitha4yearold. (Let me know if your 4-year-old would like to voice out a word for our project!)


A post shared by Viv Yapp (@vivyapp) on


A post shared by Viv Yapp (@vivyapp) on


A post shared by Viv Yapp (@vivyapp) on


A post shared by Viv Yapp (@vivyapp) on

The loves of Lisa’s life are Rich and their kids, Lyra and Jenson. Although she does wish they would let her have a shower in peace every once in a while.

2 Comments. Leave new

Ooooh book marking for later! A couple of years to go for us, but our 2 year old does jolly phonics at nursery and I haven’t got a clue so about to start looking up how to speak and teach phonics in general. If anyone has any suggestions for books/apps/IG accounts etc for the very beginning of the process I would be most grateful. This looks fab for slightly older times! x


This is awesomely timed for me Viv and I’m promptly off to follow on Insta. Ethan has just started taking interest in reading and although we’re still working our way through letters (and to be honest, at first I found the whole phonics thing a bit confusing and kept naming letters). This is so helpful. Thank you for sharing.


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