Tricky Words

Letters & Sounds and the KS1 Spelling Curriculum

Tricky words are not decodable using phonics alone as they have spellings that do not show grapheme-phoneme correspondence. They are called common exception words in the KS1 Spelling Curriculum.

Letters and Sounds sets out high-frequency words (including tricky words) to be taught within each phase.

The KS1 Spelling Curriculum specifies common exception words to be taught in KS1.

Monster Phonics

Monster Phonics makes teaching these words easier. See how colour-coding for sound facilitates learning tricky words. Download free Monster Phonics flashcards and PowerPoints. We also recommend that the first 100 words and next 200 high-frequency words are taught to ensure that all children are able to read and spell these words which make up 65% of all printed words. High-frequency word flashcards, PowerPoints, word charts and assessment are available to download as part of the Monster Phonics programme.

High-Frequency Words to be taught at each Letters & Sounds Phase

Tricky words are shown in bold; Reception High-frequency words are shaded.

High-Frequency Words to be taught at each phonics phase in the Letters and Sounds programme


Browse the phased phonics teaching structure for schools.