It is that time of the year again when I start to think about what new resources I want to buy and I start searching for as many reviews as I find so I can make the best possible decision. One of the resources that I am looking at again is Jolly Phonics. We used it with our daughter and now are probably going to use it again with our son. So I thought it was high time that I wrote a blog post about the Jolly Phonics resources that we have used. This is my personal opinion based on using resources which we bought ourselves.
When we first started using Jolly Phonics I bought the Jolly Stories book, the Activity books and the DVD. My kids love the DVD. Honest they love Inky, Snake and Bee. As an adult watching the DVD I thought it was a very basic DVD but both my kids did not notice that and they have watched and watched it over and over again. One big Plus with the DVD is there are NO American accents (my daughter picks up accents very quickly so for us this was a big bonus). The DVD is divided sections that correspond to the activity books so as the kids can watch an episode on the DVD they can then do the matching pages in the Activity books.
My kids also really love the Jolly Stories (Jolly Phonics). Our Jolly stories book is actually one of our most used story books. They really enjoy the adventures that Inky, Bee and Snake get up to and they both love the fact that the large letters on each page are textured. Both my kids are constantly tracing over the letters with their fingers. I have no doubt that we are going to be re-reading the stories with my son as we start doing his phonics. I am actually hoping that I might be able to get my daughter to read the stories to my son as I think it will be great reading practice for her.
The Activity books were also a big hit with my daughter. They are colourful and contain lots of stickers. I think they are great for kids who want to learn to read but might be finding the writing side a bit more difficult. The activity books do not contain a lot of handwriting. For my daughter this was a big bonus as she initially battled with her handwriting but the fact that there are lots of stickers and other activities in these books allowed her to continue learning without getting frustrated with her writing. I also need to mention that the pages in the activity books are not overcrowded. My daughter does not like workbooks where there is too much happening on one page. The activity books kept her interest but they did not overwhelm her.
The Jolly Phonics Workbooks: Books 1-7. These books are meant to go with the activity books. The workbooks are black and white and contain writing practice. I was initially a bit confused about the Jolly Phonic activity books verses the Jolly Phonics workbooks so we actually only started with these later on. They are different. The activity books are stickers and activities which teach the different sounds, the workbooks are pages of writing practice and later on other writing activities. I personally think the two sets work well together. My daughter did find using the Jolly workbooks helped her writing but we did have to supplement with other extra writing pages aswell.
The The Phonics Handbook: A Handbook for Teaching Reading, Writing and Spelling (Jolly Phonics). I wish I had bought this when my daughter started learning her phonics. The handbook is great if you are unsure about how to teach phonics, it gives lots of good ideas and it contains a number of extra pages which you can photocopy, these are great for extra practice. The handbook is written for teachers so gives lots of ideas on how to teach in the classroom but for me being a nervous first time homeschooler I actually found reading it gave me some much-needed confidence.
The The Grammar 1 Handbook: A Handbook for Teaching Grammar and Spelling: Bk. 1 (Jolly Grammar). I bought these as I felt like I needed a guide on what I needed to teach to my daughter next. It definitely does do that. It includes pages of revision of the jolly phonics program and it includes lots of pages on how to teach grammar. Again the handbooks are written for teachers and they contain lots of black and white pages which you can photocopy and use with the kids. Great if you are going to be teaching more than one child.
I also bought my daughter the Jolly Grammar Pupil book. This is a lovely colour workbook for the kids to do. Again the pages are of a high quality. They are colourful without being too overwhelming. Each page is clear. I must point out that the Jolly Grammar handbook and the Jolly Grammar pupil book were designed together so they contain almost identical pages. In the photo below the book on the left is the Handbook version and the book on the right is the Pupil Book version, as you can see almost identical. Depending on how your kids like to work you could buy the handbook and use the photocopy pages out of that without having to buy the pupil book.
We have also recently been give two copies of the Finger Phonics books by a friend. My son has enjoyed paging through them and running his fingers over the letters but they are already a bit too basic for him, they would be great for little ones just starting to learn some letters.
My son is now desperate to start reading so I have been looking at what route I want to go with him. He has a copy of the Usborne Big Phonics workbook which in my opinion is okay if you are using it to reinforce what the kids are learning at school but as my son is going to be homeschooling I do not think it is a proper phonics grounding. I feel that although I do supplement the Jolly phonics program with extra phonic activities and extra writing pages it does provide a good solid phonic grounding. So I am going to be including a new set of Jolly Phonics activity books on my new resources list and probably also a new set of the Jolly Phonic workbooks.
I also should mention we have never used the Jolly Readers so I can not give any feedback on these.
Update on the post – I have been asked by a number of US readers for links so here they are Jolly Stories in Print Letters (Jolly Phonics)
The Phonics Handbook in Print Letter: A Handbook for Teaching Reading, Writing and Spelling (Jolly Phonics)
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I enjoyed this review. My daughter wants to read like her big brother. She knows a lot of letter sounds and recognises most letters through playing and watching, but I don’t want to push her at all. We have the Jolly Phonics workbooks but I’ve been undecided whether to buy more from the range. It’s good to know that the activity books are complimentary and worth getting in addition to the workbooks. I think the handbooks should be on my list too.