Introduction Welcome to Jolly Phonics . Jolly Phonics has been developed by practising classroom teachers and provides a systematic method for teaching children to read and write. It is a synthetic phonics programme: The children are taught to read by ‘synthesising’ (which is blending) the letter sounds together. By blending the letter sounds together, the children can work out unknown words themselves, rather than being asked to memorise words. In this presentation, we will look at : The principles of Jolly Phonics . The stages children go through to learn to read and write well and confidently. How providing additional support at home can help children achieve the best results.
Reading Books to Children Reading books to children, and talking about the stories, is very important: It gives the children a love of books. It gives them a much wider vocabulary. It helps them to understand our language. However, it does not teach them how to read books for themselves. For this, the children need to learn how the code works. This is what Jolly Phonics provides.
5 Basic Skills There are 5 basic skills covered in Jolly Phonics : Learning the letter sounds. Learning letter formation. Blending. Identifying sounds in words. Tricky words. (You might like to explain what these mean in more detail). The first four skills are taught every day from the beginning. ‘ Tricky words’ are introduced after about 6 weeks. By then most of the children: can work out simple regular words for reading and writing are ready to learn the more difficult tricky words.
Letter Sounds Letter sound order There are 42 different letter sounds, which are divided into 7 groups. The order in which the letter sounds are taught go from the simplest to the more complex letter sounds. The first group of letters were chosen because you can make more simple, three-letter words than with any other combination of 6 letters. This enables the children to start blending and reading words from the first week. This is hugely motivating for them. Letter names Initially, only the letter sounds are taught, with the letter names coming a few weeks later. This helps to prevent the children getting muddled between the sound and the name. Digraphs The digraphs (where two letters make one sound) are introduced in the fourth group of letter sounds.
Digraphs In English there are 44 sounds and only 26 letters. This means that some sounds have to be written with two letters. These sounds are called digraphs. The ones on screen are the first to be taught to the children. Activity Point to each digraph and ask everyone to call out the sound. You can provide a word for each digraph yourself, or ask for suggestions. For example: /ai/ rain /oa/ goat /ie/ tie /ee/ sheep /or/ torn
Storylines and Actions The first of the 5 basic skills is learning the letter sounds: Action • There is an action linked to each letter sound. • This multi-sensory approach helps the children remember the letter sounds more easily. Storyline • Each sound and action is introduced through a story. • For the /s/ sound, the story is about a boy who takes his dog for a walk. • When the dog starts to bark, the boy runs over and sees a snake rearing up out of the grass in an ‘s’ shape, saying /ssssss/. • For the action, the children weave their hands in an ‘s’ shape, like a snake, and say /ssss/.
Letter Formation The next part of the lesson involves the second of the basic 5 skills: showing the children the shape of the letter that gives the /s/ sound: Multi-sensory approach A multi-sensory approach is used here too. The children can: feel the shape of the letter in the Finger Phonics books see it written on the board and write it in the air with their finger. (Demonstrate air-writing an ‘s’, facing everyone and making sure you draw the ‘s’ in its mirror image. ) Getting it right It is important to get the formation correct from the beginning before any bad habits develop. Gentle guidance or correction given at home makes it easier for the children.
Reading (blending) Blending is the third of the 5 basic skills: Words can’t be blended if only one letter sound has been taught. However, the first stage in learning to blend can be taught. This is to listen for the word when the teacher or parent says the sounds. For example, f-u-n makes ‘fun’. Activity Choose simple words from the picture on screen and call out the sounds. Ask everyone to listen for the word and call it out. (Sample set of words: s-u-n, d-o-g, b-oy, m-ou-s-e, f-i-sh, n-e-s-t.) In the beginning a little practice is needed most days. Children who can hear immediately that s-u-n is ‘sun’ tend to have a naturally good ear for sounds. They rarely have problems with learning to blend sounds by themselves. With practice, all children become successful. However, it does take longer for some, and these children find learning to read more difficult. Doing this type of activity at home is hugely beneficial.
Writing (identifying sounds in words): the fourth of the 5 basic skills Listening for the sounds in words, as we write, helps us to spell them. (Demonstrate with a simple word. For example, the sounds in the word ‘hat’ are h-a-t. Hold up a finger for each sound.) Writing simple words becomes easy for children when they can hear the sounds in words and know the letters for the sounds. (Demonstrate again, but this time write the letters on a board as you say them … ‘hat’ – h-a-t. Model the letters in the way the children will be taught to write them.) • The aim is to try and give children this skill in the first few weeks. But in their first phonics lesson, they are asked if they can hear just the /s/ sound in given words: Is there a /s/ in sun? Is there a /s/ in dog? Is there a /s/ in mouse? Does the /s/ sound come at the beginning or end of mouse? • Gradually, after the first week, children are taught to hear all the sounds in a word – ‘sun’ is s-u-n. They are encouraged to hold up a finger for each sound. The children who have a naturally good ear quickly develop this skill. Activity: Call out some words, asking everyone to say the sounds to themselves; hold up a finger for each one, then count the sounds. Check the answers, encouraging everyone to do it with you, holding up a finger for each sound and then saying the number, for example, thin is th-i-n: 3 sounds. (Other sample words: sh-e (2 sounds), s-t-ar-t (4 sounds), th-r-ew (3 sounds), b-oo-k-s (4 sounds), sh-ou-t-i-ng (5 sounds).
Pencil Hold Tripod grip The ‘tripod’ type of pencil hold makes it easier for children to write. They need to learn that: The pencil goes between the thumb and the first finger. The next finger stops the pencil falling down. The last two fingers are not needed and should be tucked away. ‘ Froggy legs’ movement The movement comes from the knuckles. When the pencil is moved in this way, it looks like ‘froggy legs’! It is helpful to encourage your children to use this pencil hold. (If you have time, get everyone to put their first finger and thumb together in the tripod grip and pretend to write with the ‘froggy legs’ movement.)
Sound Sheets The left-hand part of the worksheet is for parents: It demonstrates the action for the letter sound. It gives some words that have the new letter sound in them. These words act as a guide to the sound the letter makes. Some parents like to make a file of all the worksheets their child has done. This gives an appreciation of the children’s work and acts as useful revision.
Sound Book As each letter sound is taught, it is stuck into a Sound Book for the children to take home. Parents can play an important role in encouraging the children to learn the letter sounds by going through the book and asking them to say the sounds. Some children learn the letter sounds very easily, while others find it much more difficult. Those who find it difficult are the children who have a poor visual memory, so support from home can make all the difference.
Letter Sounds: Group 1 • The /s/ sound is taught in the first lesson, using the first four basic skills. • After this, the children need to be taught the other letter sounds in the first group, learning a new one every day. • The same four basic skills need to be taught, namely: learning the letter sounds learning letter formation blending identifying the sounds in words. (Go through the rest of the letter sounds. Give a short storyline, demonstrating the sound and action for each. For example, introduce the /a/ sound by telling the story of a family who go on a picnic. The little girl sees ants crawling up her arm and tries to brush them off, crying out a… a… a… ants!) Activity: Hold up /s, a, t, i, p, n/ flash cards, asking everyone to say the sounds and do the actions.
Blending Words Now the children can try and blend words that use the letter sounds they have been taught. Initially, blending is modelled by the teacher to the whole class. The sounds need to be said quickly. It is easier if the first sound is slightly louder, t -a-p ... ‘tap’. As soon as possible, the children are encouraged to join in as well. Some children find it easy to blend words and others find it difficult. It is a skill that comes with practice. Activity Demonstrate blending with the first word, s-a-t … ‘sat’. Ask everyone to join you in blending the rest of the words quickly. If there is time, ask them to try and think up some more words that can be made from the letter sounds /s, a, t, i, p, n/. It can be a quick competition!
Games (for Practice and Revision) By now it will be clear which children have a poor memory for learning letter sounds. These children need lots of revision – and all the better if they have fun doing it! These sheets, with two of each letter sounds on them, are useful for playing games and giving extra practice with the letter sounds. The sheets can be stuck on card (such as a cereal packet) and cut up into individual letter sounds. (It might be useful to show a sample.) Pairs Game: Place the cards face down, ensuring there are two of each letter sound. A child turns over two cards, one at a time, saying the sounds. If they are the same, the child keeps them and has another go. The child with the most cards at the end is the winner. Snap: Play Snap in the usual way, making sure the children say the letter sound before calling out ‘snap’. The aim is to make the children so familiar with the letter sounds that their response is automatic and fluent. Flashcards: The letters can be used as little flashcards. Making Words: Simple words can be made with the cards and blended.
Letter Sounds: Groups 2 and 3 These are the next two groups of letter sounds that are taught. (Demonstrate by pointing to the letters and saying the sounds. If there is time, go over the storylines and actions quickly.) As the children learn a new letter sound, they are given words to blend which use both that letter sound and the letter sounds they already know. For example, if the /b/ sound has been taught, then words such as ‘bed’, ‘band’, ‘cub’, ‘bend’, ‘bus’, ‘back’ and ‘best’ can be blended. The number of regular words available grows with each new letter sound.
Digraphs (two letters that make one sound): /ai/ /ai/ is the first digraph the children are taught. The children have to understand that when the letters ‘a’ and ‘i’ are next to each other, they say /ai/. Storyline A little boy has wax in his ears. He keeps putting his hand behind his ear and saying /ai/ when he doesn’t hear something. So his mother takes him to the doctor to get the wax removed. Now he doesn’t have to say /ai/ anymore!
/ai/ Words Blending words with digraphs becomes easy with practice. (Demonstrate by blending a few.)
Letter Sounds: Groups 4 and 5 In Jolly Phonics , the digraphs start being introduced before all the single alphabet letters have been taught. This is to emphasise the fact that the digraphs are just as important as the single alphabet letter sounds. (Run through the sounds – with storylines and actions as well, if time.)
Digraph with two sounds: ‘oo’ ‘ oo’ is introduced at first in two different sizes because it has two sounds: /oo/ as in ‘book’ and /oo/ as in ‘moon’. In reading books ‘oo’ is always the same. The children have to learn “If one sound doesn’t work, try the other sound”. (Demonstrate with a word like ‘moon’: the short /oo/ doesn’t work but the long /oo/ does.)
Letter Sounds Groups 6 and 7 These are the last sets of letter sounds. (Go over their sounds and, if time, give their storylines and actions.) ‘ th’ is also shown in two sizes, representing two sounds: /th/ as in ‘this’, ‘that’, and ‘they’; and /th/ as in ‘thin’, ‘thistle’, ‘three’. Capital letters and letter names At this stage the children start being introduced to capital letters and letter names.
Dictation By now the children will be familiar with listening for all the sounds in simple words and holding up a finger for each sound, eg ‘log’… l-o-g. Once the children are able to hear the sounds in words, and know how to write letters for them, they are ready for some simple dictation. Initially, letter sounds are dictated, then simple CVC words. This prepares the children for the harder task of independent writing. It is also an opportunity to check that children are forming letters correctly. Homework Writing Book Strips of words mounted on card, or pasted into a book, will be sent home for dictation. Parents can play an important role in encouraging their children to write by calling out the words and asking the children to write them down. It is important not to let the children see and copy the words: The aim is for them to listen for the sounds and try and write the correct letters. (NB: Dictation words should not go home until the children can hear the sounds in words and know how to write the letters. The aim is to bring fluency to the skill of writing.)
‘ Read and See’ Books The Read and See books provide an interesting way to practice blending words. The children enjoy working out the word and checking the picture underneath the flap to see if they are right.
Word Boxes For further blending practice, Word Boxes (or letter strips) are prepared at school and then – one at a time – taken home by the children. There are 10 words in each box or strip, starting with simple words made from the first six letter sounds. Parents can play an important role by listening to their children blend the words. It is important for children to be able to blend words fluently before asking them to do the harder task of reading stories for themselves. (NB: Word Boxes / strips should not be sent home until the children are able to blend them. The aim of this individual practice is to improve the fluency and automatic response to the blending of the letter sounds.)
Tricky Words Teaching Tricky Words is the fifth of the five basic skills: At this stage the children are very familiar with working out regular words by blending. Now they have to learn that some words have tricky bits, and when they are blended they do not always give the correct pronunciation. When the first set of Tricky Words has been taught, the children are ready to read the first set of books ( Jolly Readers , Red Level 1).
Jolly Readers The Jolly Readers have been carefully written to make it as easy as possible for the children to blend words and read the story. Only the tricky words might be difficult to blend and work out, and these will have been taught at school. As soon as the children can blend words using all the letter sounds and know the first set of tricky words, they are ready to read the Red Level of the Jolly Readers . The children should be able to read these books all by themselves by working out the words. Reading at home Parents can play an important role by listening to their children while they read their books. Children should be encouraged to try and work out unknown words from the letters rather than just be told the word. The tricky words that the children are expected to know are listed on the last page of each book. It is a good idea to look at this page and check that the children know them.
Alternative Vowel Sounds Introducing the alternatives Initially, only one way of reading the vowel sounds is taught. So, for example, the /ai/ sound is taught as ‘ai’, as in ‘rain’. There are, of course, other ways of writing the vowel sounds, for example ‘ay’ as in ‘play’ and ‘a-e’, as in flame. Some other examples are on screen. Gradually the children are taught the alternatives as well. This prepares them for the Yellow Level and Green Level of the Jolly Readers . Progression With Jolly Phonics , the children progress in a step-by-step fashion through the various stages. However, some will master these stages faster than others. The important thing is to make sure that the skills ARE mastered. Support from home can make all the difference. Storybooks Once there is knowledge of the alternatives and fluency in the reading then the children are able to read any books that are suitable for their age.
Dictation Sample Whilst the children are learning their reading skills, they are also developing their writing skills. Words and little sentences can now be dictated. This is a typical sample.
Independent Writing 1 Once the children are able to write words and little sentences in this way, they are ready for some independent writing. First, the children should think of a sentence they want to write. Then they need to think of each word in turn and write down letters for the sounds they can hear. It usually looks like this (see screen). At this stage the children’s spelling will not be accurate, but their work can be read. This is very empowering and encouraging for a youngster. Accurate spelling Accurate spelling develops through: reading plenty of books knowing the ways English sounds are written and following a spelling programme. Naturally, the children with a good visual memory tend to become better at spelling.
Independent Writing 2 This is typical of the independent writing achieved towards the end of the year, while the children are still 5 years old. The children with poor memories, who found it difficult to learn the letter sounds, will not be as far on as this. It will just take them a bit longer to get to this stage.
Summary With Jolly Phonics the code is taught carefully, starting with the simplest skills and gradually building up to the more complicated ones. Parental support is always beneficial and is very much appreciated by everyone at school.