For my children and me, flexibility is key and that is why I have appreciated the ease of reviewing Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar by jollyliteracy.com (just2ducks LLC) over the past six weeks or so. With brief lessons and multiple components to choose from, Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar have offered two of my children a fast and simple way to slip phonics, handwriting, copywork, and grammar into 1:1 lessons with Mom.
What's Included in Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar 1?
In Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar 1, children at a pre-k through first grade level learn phonics, grammar, spelling and punctuation through a multi-sensory approach that continues on with additional programs (Jolly Grammar 2-6) which can carry a child straight through to middle school learning.
Since the program materials are colorful, engaging, and easy-to-use, Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar 1 can also hold appeal for children a bit older than pre-k through first grade age, as they did in our home, providing a way to review and solidify literacy skills.
The Jolly Phonics Teacher’s Book in print letters is a 184-page soft-cover, full-color manual that accompanies the Jolly Phonics Student Books 1, 2, and 3. It begins with a section that explains the Jolly Phonics program and teaching method and, then, carries on with step-by-step instructions for teaching lessons using the Student books, including brief stories to tell children to help them hear, practice, and remember the 42 sounds of English.
Color-coded with miniature views of the student pages, the Teacher's Book is simple to follow and makes using the Jolly Phonics Student Books 1, 2, and 3 easy.
The Jolly Phonics Student Books 1, 2, and 3 are thin, 48-page, soft-covered, full-color workbooks that students use when learning:
- what each of the 42 letter sounds are
- how to form them
- how to blend them for reading
- how to segment sounds in words for writing
- and how to spell.
Each contains traditional worksheet activities such as coloring, matching, tracing letters, filling in blanks, etc. However, they also contain keys for remembering sounds through kinesthetic learning that is reinforced through Jolly Songs (which I will talk about shortly.)
The workbooks also introduce tricky words and alternative spellings of vowels, thereby offering children comprehensive practice which encourages them to independently read and write.
In Student Book 1, the sounds of the alphabet and digraph sounds are taught in an order that has students reading words almost right away. Call out boxes on workbook pages teach actions to help students remember sounds and handwriting exercises get children writing. Listening for letter sounds, blending sounds, and beginning to learn tricky words are all included in this portion of the program.
In Student Book 2, children build on knowledge from Student Book 1, learning capital letters, tricky words, and basic sentence structures though such activities as guided writing exercises.
In Student Book 3, short and long vowel sounds, new spelling patterns, and more tricky words are introduced, as are some independent writing exercises.
Jolly Songs is a 24-page, full-color, illustrates paperback that comes with a song CD. It includes a collection of songs set to familiar tunes for each of the 42 letter sounds. It also contains games, activities, and more. To be honest, we did not use this part of the program much, because, although two of my three children enjoy music with lyrics, the songs seemed a bit "young" for all of them. However, as a former classroom teacher and tutor as well as a homeschool mom, I can say that the songs are cute and clever at times and could be helpful for certain students.
Jolly Grammar 1 Teacher’s Book in print letters is a 104-page, soft-cover, full-color guide that is formatted much like the Jolly Phonics Teacher's Book. It includes and introduction section that explains how to teach the program along with ideas to help you work with your child. It then continues with structured lessons that correspond to activity pages in the Grammar 1 Student Book. Included in these are child-friendly descriptions of grammar points and clear instructions for teaching one spelling and one grammar lesson per week.
The Jolly Grammar 1 Student Book is an 80-page, full-color, soft-cover book that is designed to follow Jolly Phonics and to introduce grammar and spelling rules to improve writing and reading comprehension. It contains:
- rules behind alternative spellings
- short and long vowels
- compound words
- plural endings
- alphabetical order
- parts of speech
verb tenses antonyms and synonyms sentence structure punctuation
The back of the workbook has space for spelling word tests.
How Can All That Offer Flexibility?
Of course, Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar are written as comprehensive programs to be used in full in consecutive order by pre-k through first graders. However, they also work well taken a bit piece meal with at-grade-level and older remedial learners. I used them in this way.
Basically, I tucked Jolly Phonics 1 and the accompanying Teacher's Guide into my six-year-old's 1:1 reading-and-writing time bag. Then, several times a week during our 1:1 times, after reading 2-3 familiar picture books and introducing one new one, I pulled Jolly Phonics out to key into phonics review, and, more importantly for my six-year-old, handwriting.
To date, he has not relished many handwriting and copywork exercises, but there has been something about the Jolly Phonics pages that has ignited his desire to form more beautiful letters. We do not copy every dotted letter on the Student Book pages, nor write every free-hand one, but work until my son has formed at least one beautiful letter. Then, we read the word list and listen for key sounds, crossing out pictures of words that do not contain the sounds.
I like that the key sounds are not contained at the beginning of pictured words only. Sometimes they come in the middle or at the end. This keeps my son on his toes and helps him listen and segment more carefully.
With my nine-year-old, my approach is similar. I tucked Jolly Grammar 1 and its Teacher's Book into her 1:1 time bag and some days, after reading 2-3 familiar picture books, writing freely in a short question and answer response journal, and introducing a new picture book, we do a page of the Grammar Book, working on spelling or grammar. Sometimes, if my youngest's 1:1 bag is nearby, though, we browse the Jolly Phonics book, too, reading as many of the word lists in it as we can in 3-5 minutes (to help me diagnose which phonemes and phonograms my daughter is still struggling with.)
Never have I done a full lesson as written in the Teacher's Guides of Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar with my children, but often have I slipped in 5-15 minutes segments of lessons, helping my children review and solidify their phonics and grammar knowledge without tedium. I so appreciate how easy it is to do this with the slim, well-organized, and colorful student and teacher books.
Using the programs in a flexible, short-snippets way works for us well right now. I intend to continue keeping the student and teacher's books in our 1:1 bag repertoire. I can also see how the program could be beneficial used "as directed" for other families. It is comprehensive and well-written.
What Do the Children Think?
When I asked my six-year-old about Jolly Phonics, he told me:
I like it. It's easy. I usually do three pages at a time now with my mummy. The reading is easy. I like tracing the letters and making them beautiful. I like "x"ing out the pictures the best. Sometimes I draw on them instead, like I drew a sun peaking out of the rain instead of "x"ing the rain out on one page.
When I asked my nine-year-old daughter what she thought about Jolly Grammar (and Jolly Phonics, because she uses it, too, sometimes), she said:
It's good. It's a tiny bit easy. I've learned some of the stuff already, like "th" and "ck", so it's a review. Maybe some of the words I did not know before. Writing some of the dictation is a challenge, but some of it is really easy.
The best thing about it is I have confidence that I can do it. I don't like the dictation sentences much. I want to keep using it though because it is easier than some other things and it will strengthen what I know, reviewing things and tossing in a tiny bit more.
When my son, who has been rather writing-reluctant, indicates that he likes writing letters, and my daughter, who is "behind" in English Language Arts and sometimes gets altogether too frustrated and down by the fact that reading does not come naturally for her says, "It's easy," and "I have confidence...", I think, "Hoorah! Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar are helping us meet goals, fill holes, and slip traditional work easily into cozy 1:1 reading-and-writing times.
Head on over to jollyliteracy.com (just2ducks LLC) where you will find loads more information and some helpful Parent and Teacher Resource Freebies, too.
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Forty Schoolhouse Review Crew families - some with children in pre-k through first grade and others with remedial learners tried out Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar 1. See what they thought by clicking through the banner to read their reviews.