Phonics is such an important step in teaching a child to read. Learning the sounds of the individual letters first and how to blend them together is a skill that builds a solid foundation for literacy. I have personally used so many different types of phonics curriculum over the years, but never one quite as cute as My Jolly Phonics. I was provided a copy by the distributor here stateside, Deb Bible with JollyLiteracy.com, so that I could share my honest opinion with you about this new-to-me educational resource!
My Jolly Phonics does provide a number of resources within their preschool course. The preschool set ($185.00) includes the following:
- Hardcover Jolly Stories book
- Jolly Phonics DVD
- Jolly Games CD-rom
- Jolly Phonics Letter Sound Poster
- Jolly Songs Audio CD and Songbook
- 7 Jolly Phonics Consumable Activity Books with stickers
- Cloth, Zippered Carrying Case
- Graphite and Colored Pencils with eraser
My Jolly Phonics uses the synthetic or blended phonics method of teaching phonics to children. According to their teacher’s guide “Synthetic phonics is about teaching children, from the beginning, to read unknown words by blending (synthesizing) the letter sounds … once a word has been sounded out and blended a few times it becomes familiar and can instantly be read.” Click HERE to learn more about this method from Jolly Literacy’s website.
This program presents the letters of the alphabet and their sounds in a very systematic way. The sounds are not taught alphabetically but in a particular order to help enable the child to begin blending the sounds to read words as early as possible. This method can also be used to teach reading or English as a second language. Forty-two letter sounds are taught using this multi-sensory and motivating approach. . The letter sounds are split into seven groups as shown below.
Letter Sound Order
- s a t i p n
- c/k e h r m d
- g o u l f b
- ai j oa ie ee or
- z w ng v oo oo
- y x ch sh th th
- qu ou oi ue er ar
How does Jolly Phonics work?
Using this synthetic approach to phonics, My Jolly Phonics teaches children five key skills over the course of the program. Learning can be continued further by using the elementary curriculum Jolly Readers and Jolly Grammar to build a foundation in early literacy instruction during the first three years of elementary education.
The five skills taught in Jolly Phonics as listed on their website are as follows:
- Learning the letter sounds: Children are taught the 42 main letter sounds. This includes alphabet sounds as well as digraphs such as sh, th, ai and ue.
- Learning letter formation: Using different multi-sensory methods, children learn how to form and write the letters.
- Blending: Children are taught how to blend the sounds together to read and write new words.
- Identifying the sounds in words (Segmenting): Listening for the sounds in words gives children the best start for improving spelling.
- Tricky words: Tricky words have irregular spellings and children learn these separately.
Visually Appealing, Multi-Sensory Learning
This phonics set arrives to you neatly packaged in a cute little case featuring Snake from the phonics stories as a plush encircling the outside. His head forms a sort of secret pocket up one side to hold pencils. On the front is a space for your child’s picture. One adorable thing about this set are that the same characters are featured again and again so that your children become familiar with them as they change activities. My 4 year old daughter was immediately excited upon seeing the colorful zippered case. She shrieked when she found out this was her “school”. She has been wanting something all her own since I usually just let her sit in on her siblings phonics lessons. This set was very appealing to my daughter visually.
After taking some time to look through the materials I would like to share with you what I felt were the advantages and disadvantages of this program so that you can make an educated decision for whether or not this particular phonics curriculum will work for your child.
My Jolly Phonics Preschool curriculum heavily integrates multi-sensory learning which is great for small children. I know my kids enjoy moving as they learn and it helps to solidify new concepts in their mind when the movement reinforces the material. For those parents who enjoy integrating workbook learning with technology,, music, and motion this is a great fit.
A Parent’s Guide
There are parent and product guides included with each individual item in the case, but not one parent guide for instruction which I did feel was a bit different from other programs I have used. This leaves you sort of piecing together how you feel the program should be used on a daily basis. There is not just one guide that tells you what to do each day. If you are a parent that loves flexibility than this may be an advantage. If you are a parent that would like a defined schedule, this might be a disadvantage for you.
All of the Jolly Phonics products do meet Common Core State Standards. All of My Jolly Phonics items originated in England before the days of Common Core and were not changed to conform in any way. They just naturally fit these state standards. It is also important to note that even though created in England a version is created specifically for North America. This can be found at JollyLiteracy.com.
The Educational Materials
Do you like Mr. Rogers Neighborhood or Fraggle Rock? The Jolly Phonics DVD and its puppets sort of reminded me of these in a way. The same characters throughout the program are in puppet form in the DVD series, taking your child on an adventure discovering letters, their sounds, and how to properly write the 42 sounds presented. Included on the DVD are 8 educational episodes, a morphing game as well as a sound pronunciation menu that just shows a mouth up close saying the letters and their sounds. The DVD, story book, and workbook activities all compliment each other in story line as you progress through the phonics lessons.
The Jolly Phonics Stories is a hardcover book and has textured, raised letters and phonetic spellings on each page alongside colorful illustrations. Actions are presented and explained on these pages as well. I found that to be unique and an advantage as once again that multi-sensory approach helps to ingrain new information in a child’s mind. Each new page also includes a search and find game as your child learns to sound out the letters and blend them together to make a word.
I really enjoyed the Jolly Games CD-rom. There are 20 games included that cover learning letter sounds, letter formation, blending, identifying sounds into words, tricky words, short vowels, and alternative spellings of vowels. This single user gaming program can be used on both a PC and Mac computer systems. Parents have the option to choose between easy, medium, and hard levels for their child. Print and pre-cursive writing are both offered as options when installing the program to your computer. These games include the same characters from the rest of the My Jolly Phonics program and reinforce what is being learned from the DVD, storybook, and activity workbooks.
The seven consumable activity books provided are colorful and support what the child is learning on their Jolly Phonics DVD and reading in My Jolly Stories. Each workbook contains 35 pages. What kid doesn’t like stickers? There are lots of stickers included to use with the activities. Letter formation, coloring, cutting, matching, and other early learning fun activities and developmental skill practice appropriate for preschoolers are included
My children are always making up new songs about random things to well known tunes. The Jolly Songbook with CD is actually pretty cute. Sounds are presented with catchy little rhymes set to music your child will already know like “The Farmer in the Dell” or “Skip to My Lou.” There are illustrations beside each song and the familiar characters Snake, Bee, and Inky Mouse spotted throughout. The actions illustrated with each song are also presented in the storybook to reinforce letter sounds.
“Tricky Words” Are Presented in a Tricky Way
The method of how sight words are taught in My Jolly Phonics preschool as “tricky words” was very different than how I have taught this concept in the past to my older children. That doesn’t necessarily mean it is wrong, but just different. The programs that I have used in the past have always taught that certain letters can have different sounds from the very beginning. As the student progresses, both vowel and consonant digraphs are presented in complimentary fashion as the child builds one skill upon another. Phonics rules are presented and often memorized to give the child something to draw upon for guidance when reading and spelling to help in the construction of new words encountered. In this particular preschool program it seems that “tricky,” irregular words that do not fit the few rules presented in this early reading program are just to be memorized. I can see this as possibly problematic. Subsequent curriculum offered for early elementary through My Jolly Phonics is more much thorough. Magic “e”, schwa sounds, etc are presented in the curriculum meant to follow the My Jolly Phonics preschool set. You can see more about these at the links below.
A Curriculum Best for Littles
Overall, I did not feel this phonics program was as thorough as I would like, but I also do not begin formal instruction at three years old which is when this program is meant to begin. If you are looking for an early reading program that your child will be motivated to use this might be a good choice for you even if it isn’t for me. Beyond the colors and characters, the multi-sensory approach combining technology, music, and actions with learning letters and their sounds would be fun for many little children.
The important thing to remember about teaching a child to read is that parent involvement is key. Consistent reading of real books is necessary. Making reading fun, interesting, and applicable is important because that is what makes a child a reader for life.
Books teach us. Living books can aid in character formation. Books can help to expand our vocabulary and our imaginations. The ability to read is important for so many reasons and one not to be taken for granted. What a gift it is for a parent to help their children gain this skill that throughout history was not afforded to many people.
I am also so thankful that there are so many different phonics programs available for homeschoolers because as a parent you have the option to choose one that works for both your teaching style and your child’s learning style.
What is your favorite feature about My Jolly Phonics?
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