What is the Literacy Hour? 

  • The literacy Hour is a special period conducted during the school day and is designed for teaching literacy.
  • During this time an attempt is made to help pupils to become highly competent in reading and writing also in speaking and listening.
  • It is expected that pupils will develop specific skills and be able to gather information, think critically and communicate effectively.

Five Big Ideas: 

Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Fluency, Vocabulary and Comprehension are the five areas of reading instruction that are focused on during the Literacy Hour.

Phonemic Awareness

  • Phonemic Awareness teaches children to notice, think about and work with sounds in spoken language.  This activity helps pupils to understand that words are made up of speech sounds. 
  • Activities that can be used to develop this skill are: 
    • Recognizing individual sounds in words e.g. What is the first sound in the word man?
    • Recognizing the same sound in different words e.g. What sound is heard in all of the following words -  hat, him, hen.
    • Recognizing the odd sound within a set of words e.g. Select the odd sound in the following words – bus, bun, rug.
    • Combining phonemes to form words e.g. What word can be formed from combining b/i/g
    • Breaking up a word into separate sounds such as bag to b/a/g.
    • Recognizing the word that remains when a phoneme is removed from another word, such as brake to rake.
    • Adding a phoneme to an existing word to make a new word e.g. from room to broom.
    • Substituting one phoneme for another to make a new word such as bet to let 


  • Phonics is a method of teaching reading by associating letters and speech sounds.
  • Phonics involves being able to read, pronounce and write words by associating letters and sounds.
  • Teacher should include modeling of sounds and application of sounds learnt.
  • Activities that can be used are:
    • Providing practice with letter – sound relationship in a predetermined sequence.
    • Teaching the alphabet
    • Converting letters into sounds and combining sounds to create a word.
    • Examining parts of words and exploring letter – sound relationship.
    • Listening to stories also factual texts read aloud.
    • Writing letters, words, messages and stories.


  • Fluent reading is reading effortlessly, with speed accuracy and proper expression.
  • Fluent reading helps readers gain meaning from what is read. Fluent readers recognize words and comprehend at the same time.
  • Activities to develop this skill include:
    • Practicing repeated and monitored oral reading or reading passages several times with guidance and feedback from the teacher.
    • Providing children with models of fluent reading.  (Teaching and parent should read aloud daily to children.)


  • Vocabulary refers to the words that children know so tat they can communicate through speech or recognize words when listening or when these are in print.
  • Vocabulary plays and important part in learning to read.
  • There are four types of vocabulary – listening vocabulary, speaking vocabulary, reading vocabulary and writing vocabulary.
  • Activities to develop this skill include:
    • engaging in oral language daily (learning word meanings through conversations with other persons)
    • listening to adults read to them
    • reading extensively on their own.


  • Comprehension Instruction ensures that pupils can demonstrate what they understand from what they read.
  • Activities to develop this include:
    • reading fluently
    • retelling what is read
    • responding to different kinds of questions about what is read, drawing pictures, stating whether statements are true or false.

Structure of the Literacy Hour

  • The Literacy Hour begins with an ‘Introduction’ to the day’s programme.  This lasts for 7 minutes. Activities planned for the day and the objectives are discussed during this time.
  • Phonemic Awareness is taught to the whole class for the next 15 minutes.  This may include songs and rhymes.
  • Phonics is taught for the following 15 minutes.  During this period letter sounds are taught systematically.
  • Small group activities involving guided and shared reading, drawing, tracing, writing and vocabulary development activities are done.
  • The final session of the ‘Literacy Hour’ is called Reflection. During this time there is teacher/pupil discussion about what was done and what was learnt.  The teacher uses this information to improve future lessons.