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Using Jolly Phonics To Teach Phonics Skills

Updated on August 23, 2017

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 from, 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.

If you are shopping in the UK or Europe you can view Jolly Phonics resources at

What is Jolly Phonics?

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)

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.

My Personally Recommended Jolly Phonics Resources


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

Jolly Phonics Puppets

These puppets really help to bring the Jolly Phonics stories to life.

Younger children love puppets and these are perfect for the teacher to use whilst demonstrating the sounds.

They can also be used to accompany the stories, as part of a phonics classroom display or for the children to use as a tactile reminder of the sounds and stories.

Inky The Mouse

Tips On Teaching Tricky Words

Jolly Phonics Tricky Word Hat

Jolly Phonics Tricky Word Hat
Jolly Phonics Tricky Word Hat

This hat is designed to be used with the Tricky Words Cards (sight words) which are words that cannot be decoded by breaking it down into individual sounds.

Examples of tricky words are one, was, eight and the.

Jolly Phonics Tricky Word Wall Flowers are also available to use with the hat or as part of a wall display.


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.


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