What Is Jolly Phonics?

Written by Dan

Jolly Phonics is a comprehensive, engaging, and fun method of teaching children how to read and write.

Rooted in synthetic phonics, it includes 42 sounds of the English language rather than the alphabet alone.

This dynamic approach utilizes multi-sensory techniques, making learning an enjoyable and memorable experience for young minds.

Jolly Phonics helps children understand the relationship between a sound and its written symbol, aiding in developing crucial literacy skills from an early age.

From songs, actions, and stories to letter formation, Jolly Phonics offers a holistic approach to early education. Discover more about this innovative educational tool in the following content.

Understanding Jolly Phonics

Jolly Phonics is a comprehensive program based on the synthetic phonics method of teaching letter sounds.

Synthetic phonics is a way of teaching reading in which children are first taught each letter sound, not their names, and then guided to combine (or “synthesize”) these sounds together to read words.

For instance, students learn that the letter ‘s’ makes the /s/ sound and the letter ‘a’ makes the /a/ sound. Once they understand this concept, they can synthesize the two sounds to decode the word ‘as’.

Traditional teaching methods often focus on learning the alphabet and its associated names, rather than the sounds each letter makes.

This approach might lead to confusion when children encounter words where the letter’s name does not resemble its sound in the word.

Jolly Phonics, on the other hand, emphasizes the sounds letters make in words. It introduces the 42 main letter sounds, including alphabet sounds as well as digraphs such as sh, th, ai and ue.

This method enables children to begin building words much sooner.

Additionally, Jolly Phonics differs from traditional methods by incorporating a multi-sensory approach.

This includes visual aids, actions related to each sound, songs, and stories to make the learning process engaging, interactive, and fun for young learners.

The aim is not just to teach children how to read and write, but also to foster a love for literacy that will stay with them throughout their lives.

The 42 Sounds in Jolly Phonics

Unlike the conventional teaching method of 26 alphabet letters, Jolly Phonics expands this learning by introducing 42 sounds.

These sounds are the building blocks of the English Language and are a combination of single letter sounds and digraphs.

The 42 sounds are divided into seven groups, each containing six sounds. They are introduced in a specific order to enable children to start forming words as quickly as possible.

  1. Group 1: s, a, t, i, p, n
  2. Group 2: c k, e, h, r, m, d
  3. Group 3: g, o, u, l, f, b
  4. Group 4: ai, j, oa, ie, ee, or
  5. Group 5: z, w, ng, v, oo, oo
  6. Group 6: y, x, ch, sh, th, th
  7. Group 7: qu, ou, oi, ue, er, ar

Each sound is associated with an action, a song, and a story that aids in memory recall. For instance, for the sound ‘s’, children mimic a snake and hiss ‘ssss’. This multi-sensory approach makes it easier for children to remember the sounds.

The role of these sounds in language learning is fundamental. By understanding these sounds, children can decode (read) and encode (write) words much more efficiently.

Instead of memorizing words, they learn to recognize the sounds in them and blend these sounds to read words or segment them to spell words.

This strong foundation in phonics is crucial in developing fluent reading and accurate spelling skills, setting up young learners for success in their literacy journey.

Multi-sensory Approach of Jolly Phonics

Jolly Phonics takes an innovative approach to teaching phonics by utilizing a multi-sensory method. This means it doesn’t rely solely on visual or auditory learning, but also incorporates kinesthetic learning strategies.

It’s a comprehensive process that engages children’s senses of sight, sound, and touch to enhance their understanding and memory retention of the 42 letter sounds.

The multi-sensory techniques used in Jolly Phonics include:

  1. Visual: Every letter sound has an associated visual cue, often in the form of a character or an object. For example, ‘a’ is represented by an apple, helping children associate the letter ‘a’ with the /a/ sound.
  2. Auditory: Each letter sound comes with a corresponding song or rhyme that introduces the sound and provides a context for its use.
  3. Kinesthetic: Children are taught actions that correspond to each of the 42 letter sounds. For instance, for the sound ‘s’, children mimic a snake with their hand and make a hissing ‘ssss’ sound.

The benefits of this approach for children’s learning are significant. The combination of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning caters to different learning styles, making it more likely that every child will effectively grasp the concept.

It can make learning more enjoyable and engaging, which can increase motivation and improve retention.

The multi-sensory approach helps children make connections between what they see (the letter), what they hear (the sound it makes), and what they do (the corresponding action).

This holistic learning experience enhances their understanding and recall of the letter sounds, setting a strong foundation for their reading and writing skills.


Components of Jolly Phonics

The Jolly Phonics program is a rich and diverse resource designed to make learning phonics an engaging and enjoyable experience for children. Here are the key components of Jolly Phonics:

Songs and Actions

Each 42 sounds in Jolly Phonics has a corresponding song and action. These songs are catchy tunes that help children remember the sounds.

The actions, meanwhile, provide a physical connection to the sound, further reinforcing memory. For example, for the ‘a’ sound, children might pretend to take a bite out of an apple.

Stories and Letter Formation

Jolly Phonics also includes stories related to each sound, providing context and helping children understand the usage of the sounds in words.

Additionally, there’s a focus on letter formation, teaching children how to write each letter correctly. This component is essential in developing good handwriting skills and preventing the formation of bad writing habits.

Other Resources and Materials

Other resources Jolly Phonics provides include workbooks, flashcards, puzzles, and interactive games. The workbooks offer exercises to practice letter formation, identify sounds in words and build words using the sounds they’ve learned.

Flashcards are handy visual aids for each sound and can be used for various games and activities. Puzzles and interactive games make learning fun and engaging, motivating children to learn more.

These components together make Jolly Phonics a comprehensive, multi-sensory program that encourages children to explore the world of phonics in a fun and engaging way. It gives them the tools they need to become confident readers and writers.

Benefits of Jolly Phonics

Jolly Phonics is a child-centered approach to teaching literacy that has proven effective in enhancing children’s reading and writing skills.

It’s globally recognized for its positive impacts on children’s development and confidence.

How it enhances literacy skills

The unique aspect of Jolly Phonics is it doesn’t just teach children the alphabet; it goes a step further to introduce the 42 sounds of English.

This knowledge enables children to decode words more efficiently, leading to improved reading skills.

When it comes to writing, understanding these sounds helps children spell words correctly. The multi-sensory techniques used make learning these sounds engaging and memorable, thereby accelerating the learning process.

Positive impacts on children’s development and confidence

Beyond literacy skills, Jolly Phonics also contributes to children’s overall development. The program fosters critical thinking as children learn to problem-solve when decoding words.

It also encourages creativity and imagination through the stories and songs associated with each sound.

Moreover, as children become more proficient in reading and writing, they gain confidence. This confidence can extend beyond the classroom, positively impacting other areas of their lives.


Jolly Phonics offers a comprehensive and engaging approach to early literacy education. By focusing on the 42 sounds of English and using a multi-sensory approach, it effectively enhances children’s reading and writing skills.

The importance of Jolly Phonics in early education cannot be overstated. It not only lays a strong foundation for future literacy skills but also instills a love of learning in children from a young age. This combination makes Jolly Phonics an invaluable tool in any early years classroom.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: What are the benefits of Jolly Phonics for children?

A: Jolly Phonics enhances children’s literacy skills by teaching them the 42 sounds of English, which improves their reading and writing abilities. It also fosters critical thinking, creativity, and boosts their confidence. The program’s multi-sensory approach caters to different learning styles, making it effective for all children.

Q2: Why is Jolly Phonics so successful?

A: Jolly Phonics’ success can be attributed to its multi-sensory approach, which makes learning engaging and memorable.

By incorporating visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning strategies, it ensures that every child can effectively grasp the concept. Furthermore, it focuses on the sounds of English, which aids in reading and spelling, setting a strong foundation for future literacy skills.

Q3: What are the 5 skills of Jolly Phonics?

A: The five key skills taught in Jolly Phonics are:

Learning the letter sounds
Learning letter formation
Identifying sounds in words (segmenting)
Tricky words (irregular or high-frequency words that children learn to recognize)

Q4: What is the impact of Jolly Phonics?

A: Jolly Phonics has a significant impact on children’s literacy development. It helps them become confident readers and writers at an early age. Additionally, it fosters critical thinking and creativity, positively impacting their overall development.

Q5: Is Jolly Phonics suitable for all children?

A: Yes, Jolly Phonics is designed to cater to various learning styles, making it suitable for all children. Whether your child is a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner, they will benefit from this program.

Q6: At what age should a child start Jolly Phonics?

A: Jolly Phonics is typically introduced in pre-school or early primary school years. However, the program’s engaging and child-friendly approach makes it suitable for introduction as soon as a child shows an interest in letters and sounds.

Q7: Can Jolly Phonics be used at home?

A: Absolutely! While Jolly Phonics is often used in educational settings, its resources are also designed for use at home. Parents can utilize the program’s flashcards, workbooks, songs, and stories to support their child’s literacy development at home.

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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