Kids will have a jolly good time learning to read with this well-constructed program which originated in Great Britain. Used successfully with students as young as three, the methods and results achieved are impressive. Five skills are taught, in tandem, throughout the program: learning letter sounds; learning letter formation; blending; identifying the sounds in words, and tricky words (irregular words). Teaching is straight-forward, but fun. Children learn via visual, auditory, and tactile-kinesthetic modes. For instance, sky-writing and finger-tracing of letters. Letters are introduced in a seven-step order (non-alphabetical) that allows immediate decoding of many words. All program components are high quality, well-designed, easy to use, and most are brightly colorful. The "program" can be used with a minimum of the black/white, reproducible Phonics Handbook OR by utilizing some or all the other course components.
The Phonics Handbook provides a year's worth of detailed lesson plans. Carefully thought out, it progresses systematically - introducing then honing each skill. Instructions for each presentation are simple, straightforward and sensible. The bulk of the Phonics Handbook is all the reproducible material you will use in the program - Sound Sheets, Flash Card Sheets, Sound Book Sheets (children create a sound book as they go), Word Box Sheets (to make your own practice word boxes), String Joining Sheets (you'll probably want to reproduce on cardstock if using string OR use as matching sheets), Matching Letters, Words and Pictures cards, Sentence Sticking (really fun exercises), Letter Clue Pictures (practice word families), Reading Games, Missing Sound Sheets, Homework Writing Sheets, Tricky Word Sheets, and Alternative Spellings of Vowels. The Phonics Handbook is available in either a print letter or precursive version. Other Jolly Phonics material is all print letters. 218 pgs.
Student Books each feature all 42 letter sounds and are used for reinforcement and further skill development. They cover letter formation, listening for letter sounds in words, blending activities, and tricky words. The books build on each other; each introducing more tricky words as well as sound spellings and spelling patterns and even basic sentence structure. The Teacher Book accompanies these books and provides detailed lesson plans for each page of the Student Books as well as reduced copies of the student pages. Material in the Student Books and the Teacher Books is identical to the material in the Phonics Handbook except that ithey are full-color and non-reproducible. Student books 48 pgs; Teacher's book 184 pgs.
Letter introduction in this series is a bit unusual and in this order. #1 s, a, t, i, p, n; #2 c/k, 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 (two sounds); #6 y, x, ch, sh, th (two sounds); and #7 qu, ou, oi, ue, er, ar. The seven books in the Finger Phonics series as well as the Activity Books correspond to these number groupings of lettters. Entertaining videos introduce letter sounds and a movement for each letter is "hooked" to a memorable story.
The Decodable Readers are colorful and engaging, sets of leveled practice readers using decodable regular words (words that are made from the 42 letter sounds) and a small number of tricky words (frequently used words that are not fully decodable at this state. Each level provides three groups of stories (six tales/books in each group) about the antics of Inky Mouse and Friends, non-fiction (Phonic's Fantastic Facts), and general fiction stories (Snake's Amazing Tales). Levels 1 and 2 complement the material being taught in the Jolly Phonics program. Levels 3 & 4 are sequels to that series. Complete Sets provide individual books while each leveled Decodable Reader has six stories in one book. The stories are the same whether in an individual book or in a complete set. Each book begins with a review of sounds plus a listing of Tricky Words, Each story concludes with comprehension questions that focus on "What was in the book?" and "What do you think?" Readers are 94 pgs, pb.
You might want to begin the program by viewing the Jolly Phonics DVD. If you have never taught a child to read, this will boost your confidence, as you watch various under-fives learning to read fluently and writing in full sentences. The DVD covers all 42 letter sounds through the adventures of Inky Mouse, Snake, and Bee. There is a spoken guide to all the letter sounds as well as a fun activity for each sound/story. Included is a one hour video "Using Jolly Phonics" which does a great job of conveying the philosophy, approach, and teaching methods employed in the program.
Finger Phonics Books are beefy board books corresponding to the seven step order. Each has print letter cut-outs that allow for finger-tracing - a satisfying tactile experience. A dot shows the origin point and arrows direct the flow - preparing your child for writing.
Jolly Phonics Workbooks put newly acquired skills into practice with letter stroke and print letter practice. These correspond to the Finger Phonics Books. There is a 2-page spread (black and white) for each phoneme that recaps the story, motion, provides additional writing exercise (tracing the target letter) and introduces the upper-case symbol. Each 24-page workbook (seven in all - one for each group of letters) also includes a variety of recap activities at the end. Jolly Songs is a collection of songs set to popular tunes for each of the 42 letter sounds. This set includes a CD and a print letter book. In addition to the songs sung by children in British English the CD also includes a spoken guide to all 42 letter sounds and alternative vowels. The 24-page book includes games and activities.
The Letter Sound Poster is a single sheet (23" x 33") with the 42 letter sounds (print version) arranged in their groups. Illustrations prompt the Jolly Phonics action and sound.
Jolly Stories Board Books covers all 42 letter sounds and follows Inky Mouse and friends through seven illustrated stories. A large letter (print letters) is embossed on the story spread for tactile recognition. Tips and advice for parents are included. 80 pgs.
Activity Books (one for each set of letters) are colorful and provide sound sheets that coordinate with the story, providing a picture to color, a reminder of the action associated with the sound, lower-case letters to trace, and several words that begin with the sound. Two pages of stickers are also included, along with instructions. 36 pgs.
The Games CD is great for independent work and reinforcement. There are twenty activities with Inky Mouse and friends; three levels of play easy, medium, or hard with the choice of print or pre-cursive letter options during installation. The single user license CD-ROM is both PC and Mac compatible.
The Word Book is a reference book for teaching reading and writing skills such as blending spelling and dictation. It has lists of words made from the 42 phonemes, tricky words and words with consonant blends. 48 pgs
The Jolly Dictionary uses print letters and teaches students how to look up and understand words. A pronunciation guide is given for each of 6,000+ words. Easy to read definitions and age-appropriate words make this a useful resource for young students. 340 pgs.
There are several apps for smartphones and tablets available at the Apple? App Store or Google Play? Jolly Phonics Letter Sounds, Jolly Phonics Lessons, Jolly Songs and an app for teachers. Some are free and some require a small fee.
In summary, this would be an excellent program to begin with a K4 or K5 student that, in a relatively short time, would leave them reading (and writing) at about a 1.5 grade-level. It goes much deeper than most beginning phonics programs, though stops a little short of a K-2 program like Sing, Spell, Read and Write. Follow up with Jolly Grammar for a solid grammar and spelling program that reviews and expands the phonics instruction and provides excellent language arts instruction.