What is Jolly Phonics?

What Is Jolly Phonics

Introduction to Jolly Phonics

Jolly Phonics is a fun and child centered approach to teaching literacy through synthetic phonics using actions for the 42 letter sounds. This multi-sensory method is very motivating for children and teachers, and makes teaching and learning phonics enjoyable. The letter sounds are split into seven groups as shown below.

Learning the Letter Sounds

In Jolly Phonics the 42 main sounds of English are taught, not just the alphabet. The sounds are taught in a specific order (not alphabetically). The first group has been chosen as it makes more simple three letter words than any other six letters. This enables children to begin building words as early as possible.The sounds are in seven groups:
1. s a t i p n
2. c k e h r m d
3. g o u l f b
4. ai j oa ie ee or
5. z w ng v oo oo
6. y x ch sh th th
7. qu ou oi ue er ar
Children learn each letter by its sound, not its name, as learning letter sounds is a true predictor for future reading/writing success. The names of each letter follow later.

Learning The Letter Formation

As the letter sounds are introduced, the children are simultanesouly taught how to form each letter correctly. Initially, the children form the letters in the air modelling the teacher. By regularly feeling the formation of each letter and then writing it, most children form their letters correctly after the first 12 weeks. Daily practice supports letter writing and accurate formation.

The pencil should be held in the “tripod” grip between the thumb and the first two fingers. The grip is the same for both left and right-handed children. If a child´s hold starts incorrectly, it is very difficult to correct later on.


As well as learning the letter sounds, children are taught to blend the sounds. This begins within the first few days of the synthetic phonics teaching. Blending is the process of saying the individual sounds in a word and then running them together to create the word.

Identifying the Sounds in Words

Listening for the sounds in words gives children the best start for improving spelling. Even with the tricky words an understanding of letter sounds can help.

Tricky Words (Sight Words)

Tricky words have irregular spellings and children learn these separately.