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How to use the Jolly Phonics reading program

Updated April 17, 2017

The "Jolly Phonics" reading programme was devised by Sue Lloyd as a phonics-based programme that enables young children to learn letter sounds and blend them together to read words. The "Jolly Phonics" scheme presents a multi-sensory and progressive approach to teaching reading where children learn through visual, auditory and kinaesthetic teaching methods, such as flash cards, puppets, action songs and texturised letter shapes. Emphasis is upon letter sounds, rather than the names of letters and the scheme suggests using varied and fun teaching methods to keep children interested and motivated to learn.

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  1. Teach the 42 main sounds of English by using Jolly Phonics flashcards and "The Phonics Handbook" by Sue Lloyd. "The Phonics Handbook" demonstrates and explains the Jolly Phonics storylines and the physical actions such as hand and arm movements that correspond to each letter sound. The simple storylines and their accompanying actions help children remember a word that corresponds to each letter sound or letter sound combination.

  2. Teach the letter sounds "s," "a," "t," "p," "i" and "n" as initial letter sounds. Introduce the letter "s" by describing its corresponding storyline as outlined in "The Phonics Handbook" whereby you take your dog for a walk through long grass in the countryside. The dog begins to bark and then you hear a "sss" sound as a snake slithers out of sight. Show children the letter "s" on a flash card and ask them to perform the accompanying action, which is to weave their arm like a snake while saying out loud the sound "sss." Teach the remaining five letter sounds in the s, a, t, p, i, n group in a similar way by using their corresponding flashcards, storylines and actions.

  3. Demonstrate how to blend the sounds of the letters "s," "a," "t," "p," "i," and "n" into a variety of simple two- and three-letter words, such as "in," "sat" and "tap." For example, hold up the letters "p," "i" and "n," and say each letter sound briskly and in quick succession so that you sound out the word "pin." Introduce the next batch of letter sounds -- "c," "k," "e," "h," "r," "m" and "d" -- by using the teaching methods of flashcards, storylines, actions and blending, and then introduce the letters "g," "o," "u," "l," "f" and "b" in the same way. Reinforce letters that have already been introduced by using them in your blending activities. For example, hold up the letters "s" "u" and "n" to sound out the word "sun."

  4. Introduce the next batch of letter sounds, which includes two-letter combinations by following the teaching methods of flashcards, storylines, actions and blending as described in steps two and three. Teach the letter sound "j" as an initial letter sound. Then teach the two-letter sound combinations "oa," "ie," "ee" and "or" as sounds that occur within words, such as the "oa" sound in the middle of the word "goat," and as final sounds, such as the "ee" sound at the end of the word "bee."

  5. Introduce the remaining single letter sounds "z," "w," "v" and "y" as initial letter sounds by using the teaching methods of storylines, flashcards, actions and blending as outlined in steps 2 to 4. Teach the remaining letter sound combinations of "ng," "oo," "x," "ch," "sh," "th," "qu," "ou," "oi," "ue," "er" and "ar" as sounds that can occur at the beginning, middle and end of words as appropriate. For example, you can teach the "sh" sound at the beginning of the word "sheep," the "oi" sound in the middle of the word "coin," the "ng" sound at the end of the word "ring" and the "x" sound at the end of the word "fox."

  6. Reinforce children's acquired repertoire of letter sounds by using other resources from the Jolly Phonics reading scheme, such as the phonics activity books, workbooks, readers, finger phonics books and CDs, computer software and DVDs that feature the Jolly Phonics puppet characters.

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Things You'll Need

  • "The Phonics Handbook" by Sue Lloyd
  • Jolly Phonics flash cards
  • Jolly Phonics activity books
  • Jolly Phonics workbooks
  • Jolly Phonics readers
  • Jolly Phonics finger phonics books
  • Jolly Phonics CDs
  • Jolly Phonics software
  • Jolly Phonics DVDs

About the Author

Mother of three and graduate of the London Metropolitan University, Julie Vickers is an early years teacher and writer who also loves to craft and create! She writes on topics such as education, health and parenting for websites such as School Explained and has contributed learning sessions on child development and behavior for the Education Information and Learning Services website.

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