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Jolly Phonics

What is jolly phonics?

Jolly Phonics is a fun and child centred approach to teaching literacy through synthetic phonics. With actions for each of the 42 letter sounds, the multi-sensory method is very motivating for children. The letter sounds are split into seven groups, as shown in the Letter Sound Order chart below.

How does jolly phonics work?

Using a synthetic phonics approach, Jolly Phonics teaches children the five key skills for reading and writing. Complimented by Jolly Readers and Jolly Grammar, it provides a thorough foundation for teaching literacy over three years in school (Reception to year 2).

Letter sound order

The sounds are taught in a specific order (not alphabetically). This enables children to begin building words as early as possible.

There are five skills taught in jolly phonics

1.learning the letter sounds

Children are taught the 42 main letter sounds. These include alphabet sounds as well as digraphs such as sh, th, ai and ue. Click the link for more information on supporting your child with these sounds, the letter sounds.

2.learning letter formations

Using different multi-sensory methods, children learn how to form and write the letters. Click the link for the letter formation.


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.

There are several ways of learning tricky spellings:

  • Look, Cover, Write and Check. Look at the word to see which bit is tricky. Ask the child to try writing the word in the air saying the letters. Cover the word over and see if the child can write it correctly. Check to make sure.
  • Mnemonics. The initial letter of each word in a saying gives the correct spelling of a word. For instance, ‘laugh’ – Laugh at Ugly Goat’s Hair.
  • Using cursive (joined up) writing also improves spelling.
  • Say it as it sounds. Say the word so that each sound is heard. For instance, the word ‘what’ is said  w – hat.