Alphatots – What is Alphatots?

Alphatots is a unique programme of fun sessions for 1-4 year-olds that help develop early reading and writing skills.  Classes for 2-4 year olds introduce phonics through games, songs, and stories, giving children the chance to learn and practise the sounds that different letters make.  Each week we introduce a new letter, and the children have a great time playing along with a lovely new theme!

Alphatots Sound Bites sessions help 1-2 year-olds to prepare for the older class, and encourage the development of social skills as we to learn listening skills, taking turns, and making eye contact – all of which are crucial for holding conversations with people – again through fun games, songs, and stories. Each session also has its own special theme, which weaves throughout the activities, including a lovely ‘listening walk’ for the children to hear different sounds from different environments. Attuning the little ones’ ears to sounds in this way helps them prepare for hearing the sounds made by different letters in a gentle fun way.

Both classes also incorporate sensory touch and fine motor skills activities in order to strengthen little fingers ready for holding a pencil (and that the children really love!).

Why are Alphatots sessions important?

In Greater Manchester, according to the Manchester Partnership, 40% of children are not school ready by their 5th birthday[1].  Alphatots sessions give children the chance to develop some of the key skills required to be school-ready and gain confidence in themselves, as well as giving parents ideas for activities they can replicate at home.  Children who do not develop these skills in their early years often struggle to close the gap later with their more advanced peers.

As well as teaching children key skills, Alphatots sessions are aimed at helping parents and carers to support their children’s learning at home.  A lot of parents were not taught to read using phonics, and often do not quite understand how it works.  Alphatots sessions give adults the chance to learn in the same way as their children learn at nursery or will learn later at school, and therefore avoid any contradiction or confusion.

My child already knows the letters of the alphabet – will Alphatots still be useful?

Yes!  For a start, children can never have too much practise – and Alphatots sessions are so much fun that the children don’t even realise that that’s what they’re doing!  Secondly, a new level class is in the pipeline, for children to learn blending letters together into simple three-letter words and to practise writing the letters themselves – so watch this space!

What about children whose first language is not English?

Alphatots sessions are based on the Jolly Phonics method of teaching, which has been shown to have particularly good results for children who are learning English as a second language.  This is because English includes sounds that do not always occur in other languages, and so focusing on the the sound each letter makes and how to hear it in words can be incredibly helpful.  Other methods where children learn the names of letters first, with the assumption that they already know the sounds they make, can pose a real barrier for all children and especially those that are new to the English language.

Sounds a bit useful but boring? No! 

Alphatots is fun! (And a breather for grown-ups!) As well as physical games (great for the children who love to run around and dance!), we sing songs, listen to stories, and have sensory experiences too – so the children hardly notice they’re learning!

During the latter part of the one-hour session adults are offered a (free) cuppa and have a chance to sit and relax, while the children can also have a cold drink and play with a stash of toys.

What parents say about Alphatots

“Fun and educational”

“I can’t recommend these classes highly enough! Perfect for pre-schoolers.”

“Really fun class and I came away learning a lot too – we’ve since recreated the phonics games at home too.”

When / where do classes take place?

Current sessions are shown below but if you are not free during those times don’t despair – new sessions will be opening in due course.  If you are interested in being informed when these are launched please get in touch.

All sessions take place during terms times…

Mondays 10-11am: Alphatots Sound Bites (1-2 year olds)

Withington Baths & Leisure Centre, 30 Burton Road, Manchester M20 3EB

Fridays 10-11am:     Alphatots (2-4 year olds)

Stalder Academy of Dance, 3 John Street, Sale M33 7GA

Classes cost £5.50, bookable in half-termly blocks (usually 5-6 weeks long) but you can join at any point during the term.

To find out more and book your place

More information and online booking is available on our website:

To keep up-to-date with what’s going on, please come along and say hello!  We’re on the following social media sites:

For any queries, feel free to drop us a line at: or call Claire on 07838 541 108



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