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Using Jolly Phonics to Teach Phonics Skills

Updated on September 4, 2019
Expat Mamasita profile image

I am an experienced phonics teacher who was trained by Jolly Phonics. I would like to share my favourite resources with you.


How to use phonic skills to teach children to read and write

Jolly Learning Ltd is a system designed to help children to develop their phonics skills. It was founded by British man Chris Jolly in 1987, and after collaborating with Sue Lloyd he published the first part of Jolly Phonics in 1992.

The methodology provides excellent structure to the teaching of phonics to young children, and I also used it to great effect with older primary children who had not been taught the phonic sounds and struggled with spelling and decoding words.

There are a lot of resources available, but I have only reviewed the ones that I have actually used myself and know that they do indeed help children's phonic skills to progress.

What is Jolly Phonics?

An introduction to the methodology.

With Jolly Phonics the letter sounds are split into seven groups, with each group taking about a week to teach. The sounds are not taught in alphabetical order and letters that are easily transposed, like b and d and p and q are deliberately put into different groups.

The letters are grouped so that, for example, b and d and p and q , are not taught together. Children often transpose these letters, so it is sensible to introduce them separately.

The 42 letter sounds are taught in groups of 6 sounds, and as the children learn the sounds they are also shown how to blend them together.

For example blending the b sound with the r sound: b + r = br

The use of visual prompts, and the way that the letter sounds are grouped also makes this an ideal way to teach dyslexic children (or adults) to read and write. I know this from experience as I have personally used Jolly Phonics to teach dyslexic children.

The 42 sounds in the Jolly Phonic system includes digraphs, for example ai makes a long a sound, as in paid.

Each of the sounds has its own unique action, a song and a story. This use of different learning styles helps the child to reinforce the sound effectively.

The seven groups of Jolly Phonics letter sounds are:

  1. s, a, t, i, p, n

  2. ck, e, h, r, m, d

  3. g, o, u, l, f, b

  4. ai, j, oa, ie, ee, or

  5. z, w, ng, v, oo, oo

  6. y, x, ch, sh, th, th

  7. qu, ou, oi, ue, er, ar

Jolly Phonics Letter Sounds (British English)

My Personally Recommended Jolly Phonics Resources:

To Buy

The Phonics Handbook - Essential for anyone wanting to teach the program

The Phonics Handbook (in Print Letters) (Jolly Phonics)
The Phonics Handbook (in Print Letters) (Jolly Phonics)
The Jolly Phonics Handbook provides an excellent starting point for anyone wanting to teach Jolly Phonics. If you only want to buy one teaching resource for Jolly Phonics, then this would be the one that I would recommmend - the one that I used or referred to in every phonics lesson. It would also be an excellent homeschool resource to aid the teaching of reading and writing via phonics. Each of the 42 sounds has a page with a picture to represent the sound and space to practise writing the letter underneath. These pages are in black and white and are designed to be photocopied. There are also sound cards, word cards and worksheets that can be photocopied and taken home for extra practise. For educators who are new to this phonics system everything that you need to know is fully explained, and there is a letter that can be copied and sent home to parents that explains the Jolly Phonics methodology.

7 Finger Phonic Big Books

Finger Phonic Big Books: In Percursive Letters (Jolly Phonics) Set 1-7 (Books 1-7)
Finger Phonic Big Books: In Percursive Letters (Jolly Phonics) Set 1-7 (Books 1-7)
Made from board, in the same way that books aimed at toddler's are, these books are very hard wearing and designed to be handled by lots of little fingers. Each of the letters or sounds is cut out of the card, so that it is possible for children to run their fingers along and feel the shape of each sound. Children learn best when they get the chance to explore concepts in different mediums, and this tactile approach is useful in helping them to memorise the 42 sounds.

Using Finger Phonics Books

Finger Phonics

I used these Finger Phonics books when working with small groups of children, and they also liked to read them themselves, running their finger along the grooved shape of the sound.

These books are both very visual and tactile and provide an excellent visual aid to phonics lessons, helping to reinforce the sounds being taught.

All children learn differently, and being able to be hands on with resources like this is a huge advantage for a lot of children.

Another technique that is very good is to get the children to create the shape of the sound in a tangible way.

This can either be by using their finger to create the shape mid air, or by using a tray of shaving foam or sand to draw the sound in.

Jolly Songs

Jolly Songs (Jolly Phonics)
Jolly Songs (Jolly Phonics)
I have my own personal copy of the Jolly Phonics CD and I use it regularly. Singing is an excellent way of reinforcing the sounds, and nearly all children love to sing. It is useful when teaching the songs to the children, espescially if you are not a very confident singer. I also play it when the children are doing any sound or writing based lesson, as background music, and they sing along as they are working.

Jolly Phonics Songs

Phonics skills......

How did you learn to read and write?

My Personally Recommended Jolly Phonics Resources


Group 1: s,a,t,p,i,n

This group of resources is intended to give you an idea of what is available.

These on line sites will also have resources for the other groups of sounds.

Jolly Phonics Group 1( s,a,t,i,p,n) Blending Tutorial


Please follow this "Learning to Read and Write" board on Pinterest for more phonics resources.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Expat Mamasita


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