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Jolly Phonics 1-3 & Jolly Grammar 1 Review by Heather Aliano

Sara Wernham & Sue Lloyd
Jolly Learning
+44 (0) 20 8501 0405
Tailours House, High Road
Chigwell, Essex, IG7 6DL, UK

For this review, I was sent a stack of books from Jolly Learning- including: Jolly Phonics Teachers Book, Jolly Phonics Student Books 1-3, Jolly Grammar 1 Teachers Book and Jolly Grammar 1 Pupil Book.

The first Jolly Phonics book starts at the very beginning of learning how to read. My little girl had very little phonics experience before digging into this program, so she was an ideal student to test the program with. I come from a strong background in teaching phonics, so I will admit upfront that I am very tough on phonics programs, and I found Jolly Phonics to be very solid and effective.

The Teachers Manual is a wonderful tool. The introduction gives an overview of how to teach the program, and gives suggestions for setting up your learning space with reference tools for the kids, like a word wall full of “tricky words” (think: those sight words kids need to learn quickly and words with phonetically irregular spellings) and letter boards for children to practice constructing words. The manual also covers things like proper letter formation, how to hold a pencil, and how the program comes together.

When you go to teach a lesson, you’ll need the student workbook and the teachers manual. The instruction is quite simple. You’ll review sounds with flashcards, and then introduce the new sounds with a story. After the story, the lesson has ideas for an “action” (a wiggly activity to get the blood pumping), you’ll go over letter formation, practice sounding out words, do some dictation exercises (you speak words while your child writes them) and extension activities (like doing a craft, or making a snack together).

One thing I really like about the student workbooks is the reading bank on each page. Simple words are listed, with a dot under each sound. For example, the word “fish” may be listed, with three dots, one under each sound: f/i/sh. My daughter then put her finger on the dot, and was able to read the words without struggle. Each page has only a few simple activities so she never became overwhelmed, and looked forward to the activities each day.

By the time your child completes Jolly Phonics Student Book 3, she’ll be ready to move on to Jolly Grammar, which picks up where the phonics book leaves off. By this point, your child will be reading fluently.

Jolly Grammar begins teaching parts of speech, how to conjugate verbs, parsing sentences, mechanics, dictionary skills and vocabulary. Jolly Grammar also digs into some of the more complicated phonics/spelling topics, such as vowel digraphs, plurals, alternative vowel sounds, consonant blends, doubles and short vowels, and those “tricky words” we mentioned earlier.

Teaching Jolly Grammar is as simple as teaching the phonics program. Lessons are guided by the teacher, and includes specific instructions to teach concepts.

Overall, this is a wonderful program. The student books are beautiful, full color, with high quality pages. The teacher’s books are well formatted and easy to follow. This is an English program so there are some small variations in word choice and spelling, but nothing that presented an issue. I did choose to purchase my daughter leveled readers from Jolly Learning to go along with the phonics program, but even with that additional purchase, the whole program is very affordable. I would recommend this program to all parents who want to teach their children phonics with a strong program, but need a simple, easy-to-teach program.

-Product review by Heather Aliano, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March, 2016