Words and Pictures: Fun with Phonics
Fun with Phonics is a unit of the BBC Schools TV series Words and Pictures from the 2000s, covering English for Primary pupils.
A series systematically covering all of the phonics - the letter and grapheme sounds - in English, one at a time in separate 5-minute 'episodes'.
The same techniques are used to explore each sound, including a word-splitting Wurlitzer organ and an animated parrot with a backpack that can spell out words.
The presenters Pui Fan Lee and Will Vanderpuye alternate between 'episodes' and are never seen together. In broadcasts for schools a double-bill of two 'episodes' is shown together in each 10-minute programme, one with each presenter. Separately there were broadcasts for children watching at home of the 5-minute episodes individually.
For each phonic there is a demonstration of how it is drawn, using a moving dot cursor replacing Words and Pictures's traditional Magic Pencil. The letters themselves are personified in a memorable way that makes their own sound - g glugs a drink and h breathes heavily as it runs along the road.
The presenter looks through a spinning, colourful kaleidoscope to see video clips of things with the sound, then plays an activity or reads a story in the studio. An animated Wurlitzer organ known as Whirlyword builds words from individual sounds, and then an animated parrot called Pollyphonic flies round with a backpack full of letters spelling out words.
This unit inherited the Words and Pictures traditions of embracing phonics and visually showing how to draw letters. The production team were all new, other than artist Alan Rogers who had been drawing for the series since the 1980s. The presenters were also new to the series, though long-time Words and Pictures presenter Sophie Aldred was still invovled, reading stories for the E Big Book CDs.
Titles & Theme Music
|Step 1: Alphabet Sounds and Letters|
|1.||P & A||1 Dec 2006|
|2.||T & I||1 Dec 2006|
|3.||S & N||8 Dec 2006|
|4.||M & E||8 Dec 2006|
|5.||D & R||15 Dec 2006|
|6.||C & H||15 Dec 2006|
|Step 2: Alphabet Sounds, Letters & Consonant Digraphs|
|7.||G & O||11 Jan 2007|
|8.||U & B||12 Jan 2007|
|9.||F & L||18 Jan 2007|
|10.||W & J||19 Jan 2007|
|11.||Qu & V||25 Jan 2007|
|12.||K & X||26 Jan 2007|
|13.||Z & Y||1 Feb 2007|
|14.||Ch & Th||2 Feb 2007|
|15.||Sh & Ng||8 Feb 2007|
|Step 3: Vowel digraphs|
|16.||Ai & Ie||9 Feb 2007|
|17.||Ee & Oi||1 Mar 2007|
|18.||Ue & Oa||2 Mar 2007|
|19.||Ou & Oo (short)||8 Mar 2007|
|20.||Oo (long) & Er||9 Mar 2007|
|21.||Or & Ar||15 Mar 2007|
|22.||Tricky Words 1 & 2||16 Mar 2007|
|2006-07||Autumn 2006 & Spring 2007|
|2007-08||Spring & Summer 2008|
|2008-09||Autumn 2008, Spring & Summer 2009|
The series was also broadcast in the CBBC Channel 'Class TV' schools' schedules, across two weeks at the end of the autumn term 2007. Schools programmes ceased to be shown on the CBBC Channel early in the following year so there were no further opportunities for it to be broadcast.
The first 13 episodes (26 sounds) of the series were also broadcast overnight for easy recording as part of the BBC Learning Zone, just once on the morning of Tuesday 1st February in Spring 2011. 13 episodes could fit in a two-hour slot as the episodes are actually 9 minutes long, but rounded up to 10 minutes for scheduling.
As well as the broadcasts for schools listed above, in the form of roughly 10-minute episodes covering two sounds each, the series was also broadcast for young children watching at home as part of the Cbeebies brand on both the Cbeebies channel and on BBC2. These home broadcasts took the form of individual 5-minute episodes each covering one sound.
The series appeared on the Cbeebies channel between July 2007 and February 2009.
|Presenter||Pui Fan Lee|
|With||Karen Gledhill as the voice of Pollyphonic|
Big Al as the voices of the letters and digraphs
Three DVD Plus Packs of the series were released, containing recordings of the TV programmes and a teacher's book by Trudy Wainwright
For home learners
Two DVD packs were released using re-edited material from the series, and including a small activit book. The Letters and Sounds pack was accompanied by a poster of all of the letter sounds, the Reading pack was accompanied by picture books of 5 of the stories from the E-Big Book, and the Handwriting pack was accompanied by another poster and a set of stickers.
A similar series of Fun with Numbers activity packs were released at the same time using material from Numbertime.
Readers and E Big Books
A set of carefully constructed stories using a different sound each time. The stories were available as small reading books for individual children, or as part of an E Big Book to display the stories to a class on an Active Whiteboard.
The E Big Book includes a teacher's guide written by Trudy Wainwright, and stories on the E Big Book are read by Sophie Aldred, former Words and Pictures presenter who was not directly involved in the TV programmes this time.
Eventually 44 reading books were published, though only a few of those were used in the TV programmes and the E Big Book.
Software for Active Whiteboards (running on Windows PCs only) including clips from the TV series and activities.
An additional Fun with Phonics CD-ROM & E Big Book covering step or Phase 5 of the National Curriculum 'Letters and Sounds' scheme were added in later years (Phase 4 was revision and consolidation so no new material was needed), looking at alternative graphemes and alternative pronunciations. There were no DVD packs for this phase as no TV programmes were made for it.
A separate wall frieze illustrating all of the phonemes was released to schools a few years after the series came out.
Sources & References
- BBC Active primary catalogues, 2007-2015
- BBC Primary Guide 2006-7
- BBC Programme Catalogue online (no longer available)
- Television listings from BBC Genome, DigiGuide, Radio Times and TRILT
and recordings of the programmes
Very few credits for these programmes were ever published, and the episodes themselves only credit the producer. Credits on this page are collated from the BBC Programme Index and Alan Rogers' website on which he names his animator.
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