You have probably heard of Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar. This comprehensive, synthetic program is used across many schools in America and by many homeschooling families. jollyliteracy.com by just2ducks LLC sent us this amazing reading curriculum for review. So far I’ve been using Jolly Phonics and Grammar with my kids for over a month and you can read all about our experience in this post.
What is Jolly Phonics
Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar is a systematic, multi-sensory, and active approach to teaching reading and grammar. Its origin goes back to 1977 when Sue Lloyd developed a reading program to help a small group of students in her school to learn how to read. Now Jolly Phonics is used on every continent in the world. The widespread popularity of this program comes from proven results.
The program starts with teaching the main 42 sounds of the English language and moves on to teaching parts of speech, verb tenses, sentence structure, punctuation, and other important grammar topics.
The program includes many diverse materials, which might seem a bit overwhelming at first, if you are completely new to Jolly Phonics. Teachers are encouraged to take a training course. You can also start by perusing Teacher’s Books, which explain in great detail the teaching method and provide structured lesson plans.
The Jolly Phonics package that I received includes the following materials:
Jolly Phonics Teacher’s Book in print letters
Jolly Phonics Student Book 1, 2 and 3
Jolly Grammar 1 Teacher’s book in print letters
Jolly Grammar Student Book
Jolly Songs in print letters
Jolly Songs CD
How we used it
We used the program at least five days a week. The lessons are short and fun. Surprisingly this program worked with all my children. Let me give you a quick overview of what worked for each child.
My preschooler responded well to the beginning of the program, learning sounds. His main books were Phonics Student Book 1 and Jolly Songs book. Each of his lessons concentrated on one sound and was about 10-15 minute long. Each letter sound is introduced with a story (from a teacher’s book), a hand motion (student book and jolly songs book), a song (CD + book), and writing practice (colorful student book). He was not interested in writing and for tactile part of the lesson, I offered him to write a letter in a tray filled with salt, make a letter from playdough or shape it with blocks.
The hand motions for letters were very popular with all kids. For example for letter “a” they had to wiggle their fingers above elbows as if ants were crawling on them, and saying “a, a, a, a!” A hand motion for sound “oi” was cupping hands around mouth as if hailing a passing boat, saying “Oi! Ship ahoy!”
The letters are introduced not alphabetically, but in a specific order that enables children to start blending letters together to form words as soon as possible. 42 alphabet sounds are divided into seven groups of six.
As soon as children learn the first three letters, they can be shown how to put together a word “sat.” The emphasis is on letter sounds /ss-aa-tt/, not on letter names /ess-aa–tt/.
My 5-year is comfortable reading short readers, but couldn’t seem to move beyond that. She responded well to the middle part of the program Phonics Student Book 2. This part deals with tricky words and the alternative letter-spelling sounds. So, for example letters “ow” is read differently in snow and owl. It makes the /oa/ sound in snow and /ou/ sound in owl. Or what’s the difference between reading “fin – fine” and “hat-hate.”
So, for example, in the lesson on page 38 we talked about “ow” digraph. The lesson plan instructed to start by talking about /ou/ words like shout, south, mouse, flour, etc, and /oa/ words coat, toad, oak, soap, etc. We looked at the words written in the clouds and on the boats and I encouraged my daughter to draw a picture in the white space to represent each one. Then we practiced reading additional words that I wrote on a piece of paper: shallow, drown, sparrow, shower… The next part was supposed to be dictation, but my daughter doesn’t like that, so we usually skip it. After one page of handwriting practice, we read a couple of sentences from teacher’s book (the teacher is supposed to write them on a board, but I just ask my daughter to read it straight from teacher’s book).
We supplemented Jolly Phonics activities with reading together lots of books of my daughter’s choice and playing some reading games.
With my 8-year old we concentrated on the grammar part of the curriculum, working on spelling, punctuation, and vocabulary. We worked for a bit with Phonics Student Book 3 (after he was done with it my 5-year discovered a lot of clean pages and decided that she wants to use it) and quickly progressed to Jolly Grammar Student Book.
My 8-year old doesn’t respond well to lecture. I had to skip most of the “Main point” activities from the teacher’s guide because his eyes would just gloss over and I knew he is not really listening. So, with him we just concentrated on the activity page and then throughout the day I would make an effort to concentrate on the main points at appropriate opportunities. I could say during tea time, “hey, here is “tea” and here is “cup,” if you blend these two words together what do you get? Teacup! How about “shoe + lace”? Can you think of any other compound words?
We supplement the program with Star Wars 2nd grade writing and reading workbooks because my son adores them. And lots of reading practice (with the books of his choice).
I’m in love with both Teacher Guides: Jolly Phonics Teacher’s Book and Jolly Grammar Teacher’s Book. The whole design is good and works well for busy parents/ teachers. I really appreciate detailed daily lessons.
What we thought
I have no regrets investing our time in Jolly Phonics. It’s easy for my kids to engage with the program for 10-15 minutes a day. There are different activities that appeal to different learning styles. The music CD definitely adds a bit of fun to the lesson. We do supplement the program with additional resources, like active rhyming games, Star Wars workbooks and letter crafts, but the program is wonderful all by itself.
I love the variety of resources and the fact that I can teach different age kids with the same program. There are even more materials you can add to your program, if you decide to use Jolly Phonics. Can Do Cubs are amazing (review coming up), books, magnetic letter tiles, DVD, flash cards, wall charts and an app.
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Other Schoolhouse Teachers Crew members reviewed this program. You can read their reviews by clicking the image above.