Kickstart Your Preschoolers Reading With My Jolly Phonics Program- An Honest Review

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Inside: Make teaching reading at home EASY and FUN with the My Jolly Phonics Program! Read my honest review of this multi-sensory preschool phonics program.

Phonics is such an essential step in teaching a child to read. Learning the sounds of the individual letters first and how to blend them is a skill that builds a solid foundation for literacy.

I have personally used so many different types of phonics curriculum over the years, but never one quite as cute as My Jolly Phonics program. Keep reading this Jolly Phonics review for my honest opinion about this new-to-me educational resource!

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What’s Included In The My Jolly Phonics Program?

My Jolly Phonics Program provides a number of resources within their preschool course. The preschool set ($185.00) includes the following:

My Jolly Phonics Program Kit

●      Hardcover Jolly Stories book

●      Jolly Phonics DVD

●      Jolly Games CD-ROM

●      Jolly Phonics Letter Sound Poster

●      Jolly Songs Audio CD and Songbook

●      7 Jolly Phonics Consumable Activity Books with stickers

●      Cloth, Zippered Carrying Case

●      Graphite and Colored Pencils with eraser

My Jolly Phonics uses the synthetic or blended phonics method of teaching phonics to children. According to their teacher’s guide, “Synthetic phonics is about teaching children, from the beginning, to read unknown words by blending (synthesizing) the letter sounds … once a word has been sounded out and blended a few times, it becomes familiar and can instantly be read.” 

Click HERE to learn more about this method from Jolly Literacy’s website.

This program presents the letters of the alphabet and their sounds in a very systematic way. The sounds are not taught alphabetically but in a particular order to help enable the child to begin blending the sounds to read words as early as possible.

This method can also be used to teach reading or English as a second language. Forty-two letter sounds are taught using this multi-sensory and motivating approach. The letter sounds are split into seven groups, as shown below.

Letter Sound 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 oo
  6. y x ch sh th th
  7. qu ou oi ue er ar

How Does My Jolly Phonics Program Work?

Using this synthetic approach to phonics, My Jolly Phonics teaches children five key skills throughout the program. Learning can be continued further by using the elementary curriculum Jolly Readers and Jolly Grammar to build a foundation in early literacy instruction during the first three years of primary education.

The five skills taught in Jolly Phonics as listed on their website are as follows:

  1. Learning the letter sounds: Children are taught the 42 main letter sounds. This includes alphabet sounds as well as digraphs such as sh, th, ai, and ue.
  2. Learning letter formation: Using different multi-sensory methods, children learn how to form and write letters.
  3. Blending: Children are taught how to blend the sounds together to read and write new words.
  4. Identifying the sounds in words (Segmenting): Listening for the sounds in words gives children the best start for improving spelling.
  5. Tricky words: Tricky words have irregular spellings, and children learn these separately.

My Jolly Phonics Is Visually Appealing, Multi-Sensory Learning

This phonics set arrives neatly packaged in a cute little case featuring Snake from the phonics stories as a plush encircling the outside. His head forms a sort of secret pocket up one side to hold pencils.

On the front is a space for your child’s picture. One adorable thing about this set is that the same characters are featured again and again so that your children become familiar with them as they change activities.

Though Lil’ Man is still a little young for the My Jolly Phonics Program, he was immediately excited upon seeing the colorful zippered case. He shrieked when he found out this was his “school.” 

He has wanted something all his own since I usually just let him sit in on his siblings’ phonics lessons. This set was very appealing to him visually, and I have no doubt it will keep his attention when I begin teaching him phonics.

After taking some time to look through the materials, I would like to share with you what I felt were the advantages and disadvantages of this program so that you can make an educated decision for whether or not this particular phonics curriculum will work for your child.

My Jolly Phonics Preschool curriculum heavily integrates multi-sensory learning, which is excellent for small children. I know my kids enjoy moving as they learn. Moving helps to solidify new concepts in their mind when the movement reinforces the material. For those parents who enjoy integrating workbook learning with technology, music, and motion, this is a great fit.

A Parent’s Guide

There are parent and product guides included with each individual item in the case. But not one parent guide for instruction, which I did feel, was a bit different from other programs I’ve used previously.

This leaves you sort of piecing together how you feel the program should be used daily. There is not just one guide that tells you what to do each day. If you are a parent that loves flexibility, then this may be an advantage.

If you are a parent that would like a defined schedule, this might be a disadvantage for you.  If you prefer a made for you schedule, I would highly recommend you looking into adding The Phonics Handbook by Sue Lloyd, also part of the Jolly Phonics series. The Phonics Handbook provides a year’s worth of detailed step-by-step lesson plans and notes for teaching Jolly Phonics.

All of the Jolly Phonics products do meet Common Core State Standards. All of My Jolly Phonics items originated in England before the days of Common Core and were not changed to conform in any way.

They just naturally fit these state standards. It is also important to note that even though created in England, a version is designed specifically for North America. This can be found at JollyLiteracy.com.

The Educational Materials

Do you like Mr. Rogers Neighborhood or Fraggle Rock?

The Jolly Phonics DVD and its puppets sort of reminded me of these shows. The same characters throughout the program are in puppet form in the DVD series. They are taking your child on an adventure, discovering letters, their sounds, and how to write the 42 sounds presented correctly. 

Included on the DVD are eight educational episodes, a morphing game as well as a sound pronunciation menu that just shows a mouth up close saying the letters and their sounds. The DVD, storybook, and workbook activities all compliment each other in the storyline as you progress through the phonics lessons.

The Jolly Phonics Stories is a hardcover book and has textured, raised letters and phonetic spellings on each page alongside colorful illustrations. Actions are presented and explained on these pages as well.

 I found that to be unique and an advantage as once again, that multi-sensory approach helps to ingrain new information in a child’s mind. Each new page also includes a search and find game as your child learns to sound out the letters and blend them together to make a word.

I really enjoyed the Jolly Games CD-ROM. There are 20 games included that cover learning letter sounds, letter formation, blending, identifying sounds into words, tricky words, short vowels, and alternative spellings of vowels.

This single-user gaming program can be used on both a PC and Mac computer systems. Parents have the option to choose between easy, medium, and hard levels for their child.

Print and pre-cursive writing are both offered as options when installing the program to your computer. These games include the same characters from the rest of the My Jolly Phonics program and reinforce what is being learned from the DVD, storybook, and activity workbooks.

The seven consumable activity books provided are colorful and support what the child is learning on their Jolly Phonics DVD and reading in My Jolly Stories. Each workbook contains 35 pages.

What kid doesn’t like stickers? There are lots of stickers included in the activities. Letter formation, coloring, cutting, matching, and other early learning fun activities and developmental skill practice appropriate for preschoolers are included

My children are always making up new songs about random things to well-known tunes. The Jolly Songbook with CD is actually pretty cute. Sounds are presented with catchy little rhymes set to music your child will already know like “The Farmer in the Dell” or “Skip to My Lou.”

There are illustrations beside each song, and the familiar characters Snake, Bee, and Inky Mouse spotted throughout. The actions illustrated with each song are also presented in the storybook to reinforce letter sounds.

Related: The Beginner’s Guide to Homeschooling
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“Tricky Words” Are Presented in a Tricky Way

The method of how sight words are taught in My Jolly Phonics preschool as “tricky words” was very different than how I  instructed this concept in the past to my older children. That doesn’t necessarily mean it is wrong but just different.

The programs that I have used in the past have always taught me that certain letters can have different sounds from the very beginning. As the student progresses, both vowel and consonant digraphs are presented in complementary fashion as the child builds one skill upon another.

Phonics rules are presented and often memorized to give the child something to draw upon for guidance when reading and spelling to help in the construction of new words encountered. In this particular preschool program, it seems that “tricky,” irregular words that do not fit the few rules presented in this early reading program are just to be memorized.

I can see this as possibly problematic. Subsequent curriculum offered for early elementary through My Jolly Phonics is much more thorough. Magic “e,” schwa sounds, etc. are presented in the curriculum meant to follow the My Jolly Phonics preschool set. You can see more about these at the links below.

My Jolly Phonics Program

My Jolly Grammar Program

preschooler adjusting glasses surrounded by books

My Jolly Phonics Program- A Curriculum Best for Littles

Overall, I did not feel this phonics program was as thorough as I would like. But I also do not begin formal instruction at three years old, which is when this program is meant to start.

If you are looking for an early reading program that your child will be motivated to use this might be a good choice for you even if it isn’t for me.

Beyond the colors and characters, the multi-sensory approach combining technology, music, and actions with learning letters and their sounds would be fun for many little children.

The important thing to remember about teaching a child to read is that parent involvement is key. A consistent reading of real books is necessary. Making reading fun, engaging, and applicable is essential because that is what makes a child a reader for life.

Living books can aid in character formation. Books can help to expand our vocabulary and our imaginations. The ability to read is essential for so many reasons, and one not to be taken for granted. What a gift it is for a parent to help their children gain this skill that throughout history, not many people afforded.

I am also so thankful that there are so many different phonics programs available for homeschoolers because as a parent you have the option to choose one that works for both your teaching style and your child’s learning style.

Your Turn

Do you use the My Jolly Phonics series? What is your favorite feature about My Jolly Phonics?

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everything to teach reading at home
preschool boy reading on sofa an honest review of my jolly phonics
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