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Tricky Words

What are Tricky Words?

Tricky words are words that cannot be sounded out (decoded). They are words that need to be learnt and committed to memory.

Tricky words are organised into phases. See Phonics Phases to learn more about the structure of Letters and Sounds. As children study the sounds in each phonic phase and learn alternative pronunciations for letters, some tricky words become decodable.

Tricky Word Games

Easy tricky word games include:

  • Bingo
  • Look, say, cover, write, check
  • Making a squiggle shape and writing a different tricky word in each section
  • Rainbow writing tricky words (write words in every colour of the rainbow to reinforce word recognition and letter formation)

There are loads of interactive games available online, ictgames and phonics play are good places to look.

Learn more about the look, say, cover, write, check method of teaching spellings in our handy wiki page.

Rainbow writing the word was using lots of different colour pencils

Rainbow writing the word was

Tricky Word Bingo

Tricky word bingo is a great way to help children learn their tricky words and practice sight reading.

A quick, easy way to play this game requires you to display a selection of tricky words and give the children individual whiteboards. Demonstrate how to divide the whiteboard into a 3x2 grid. Children then pick six tricky words and write one in each of the six grid cells. Pick the tricky words at random for the children to mark off. The first child to mark off all six of their words wins.

Tricky Word List

Here are the Phase 2 Tricky Words:

I, to, no, go , the, into


Here are the Phase 3 Tricky Words:

he, she, we, me, be, you, are, her, was, all, they, my


Here are the Phase 4 Tricky Words:

said, have, like, so, do, some, come, were, there, little, one, when, out, what


Here are the Phase 5 Tricky Words:

Mr, Mrs, oh, people, their, called, looked, asked, could

FREE Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check Template

FREE Tricky Word Bingo

FREE Tricky Words Flash Cards

FREE 100 High Frequency Words Flash Cards