This book and CD set was recommended by my sons nursery class as this is what they use with the children in nursery to teach them their phonics sounds. There is a very short rhyme or song for each letter or sound, which should each be accompanied by an action. The tunes are adapted from well known nursery rhymes, for example 'the snake is in the grass' to the tune of the farmer in his den, which makes them easy to remember and learn.
The Jolly Phonics series is based on synthetic phonics which is the most common method taught in schools these days. If parents are not familiar with it then the book may be a bit confusing at first glance as the letters are not in the standard order and there are also extra sounds combined with 2 letters, which makes 42 sounds covered in the book in total. Some of the sounds I would not have been sure of myself just by looking but once you hear the song, I found it becomes clear. If you have no idea about phonics it may be best to just read a bit about it before starting the Jolly Phonics books with your child as then you will feel more confident.
The most important thing for me is that my child finds this book and cd fun, so after doing it at nursery he will come and ask for it at home. I don't have to force him to do it, he is happy with it and at the same time he is learning and reinforcing what he has done in school. (It's a school nursery class)
Since starting learning his phonics sounds only a couple of months ago, he already read some simple words so I have to say this method is working.
I saw this CD in action in the nursery class when I went in to visit and all the children seemed to be enjoying it. It is a method of learning that really involves the children by getting them doing the action, and singing, and looking at each letter on a card - or at home looking at the page in the book.
The songs are quite catchy and I have even found myself randomly singing them to myself from time to time!
I have heard some parents comments that the songs are too short but to me that's not such a bad thing, as you can go through the cd pretty quickly when your child comes to ask to do it, whereas if it was a lot longer - repeating each song 3 or 4 times before moving on - then you may find yourself more often saying "sorry, too busy at the moment." You can always put each song on repeat a few times if you want to reinforce or focus on a particular letter.
I would recommend this set especially if your child will be doing jolly phonics in school, which most of them seem to be doing these days.
It's also good value, at only around 6 or 7 pounds on Amazon.
" a, a, ants on my arm,
a, a, ants on my arm,
a, a, ants on my arm,
Causing me alarm! "
(sung to the tune of skip to the loo, Action: pretend your fingers are ants crawling up your arm)
In September my daughter started reception class at school. Very quickly she started coming home singing amusing little songs with a letter in them, only in a lot of cases it was a different pronunciation to how I had taught her.
~ " It's not Luh Mammy, it's lll " ~
I'd made the mistake of teaching the alphabet how I remembered learning it 28 years ago. However at a meeting held by the school last week, I, along with other parents who had also made this mistake, learned how the children actually learn phonics and how they are pronounced. It made sense actually, I'd been putting in an extra sound that just wasn't there, I mean it's 'lll-amp' not 'luh-amp' right?
I had noticed previously that although my daughter could name any letter I pointed to, she was having difficulty relating it to a word. For instance we would play I spy and I may say 'something beggining with Muh' and she'd come out with anything. I would try saying 'Muh, Muh, Muh....' to give her a clue, and she would reply 'Muh, Muh, Muh ...Grass! " or something similar. I put it down to her still only being four and not being at that stage yet. Now though I realise it was the pronunciation I'd actually gave her that was causing her confusion. After just a month at school using the 'Jolly Phonics' system my daughter can now tell me what any word begins with. Now something beginning with 'Mmm' is met with Mirror, Moon, and Mummy!
~ Jolly Songs ~
At the school there was a display showing the different equipment used to teach the children. Most of us parents were most interested in the Jolly Songs book and CD, as we'd heard our little one's singing the little ditties at home. The teacher told us that the book could be bought at the Early Learning Centre, and so I called in to buy it for home use.
" When I watch a tennis game,
When I watch a tennis game,
My head goes back and forth"
(Sung to the tune of The Muffin Man, Action: turn head side to side along with the song)
Jolly Songs is a 24 page, A4 sized book. It doesn't look much at first, being quite flimsy and only having a thin card cover. On the front a CD is attached in a plastic wallet. I paid £9 for Jolly Songs at ELC, however I have since found it cheaper on Amazon for £6 new, or from £3 used.
At the front there is no introduction or notes to parents, it goes right into the rhymes. Each page has 2 rhymes dedicated to a letter, a note telling you what tune it is sung to and a suggested action. There is also a humorous colour illustration alongside each song.
My daughter recognised the book immediately and got very excited about showing me the Rhymes they have learned at school, and was also keen to learn the ones she hadn't already got to. What I found a little annoying is that in the book there is no instruction on the correct pronunciation at all, and you need to listen to the CD along with the book to find out. I, of course, told her the wrong pronunciation for one letter and only realised when we listened to the CD.
The CD also doesn't have an introduction and goes straight in to the rhymes. Again I thought it might be useful to have a little demonstration at the beginning of each rhyme, but unfortunately this can only be found at the end of the CD. The songs are sung by children and are lively and clear, easy to listen to and well paced to sing along to. They do move from one to the next rather quickly, and so it is a good idea to pause the CD as you look at the next rhyme and discuss the letter or turn the page.
" If you're strong and you know it say 'ng',
If you're strong and you know it say 'ng'
if you're strong and you know it and you really want to show it,
if you're strong and you know it say 'ng'
(sung to the tune of if you're happy and you know it, Action: pretend to lift a weight when you say 'ng')
The book covers all letters A-Z and then goes onto to other sounds made by letters (which I am sure have a name, I just don't know it!), such a sh, ch, ng, and long vowels like ai, oa, ue. As my daughter hasn't reached this stage at school yet we didn't look into these in too much detail, however we did enjoy the songs and my daughter impressed me later on, by pointing to the shampoo bottle and saying sh, sh, shampoo!
~ My opinion ~
When my daughter started coming home from school singing these little songs and correcting my letter pronunciation I was really impressed. After buying Jolly Songs and other Jolly Phonics products, I am even more impressed.
It seems to me that by singing these little rhymes while looking at the book, my daughter is learning without even realising it. The rhymes are short and fun, and as they are sung to already familiar rhymes are easy to pick up. I like how each song has an action and really think this helps my daughter remember each letter and it's sound. She knows 'rrr' (R) because in the rhyme relating to it she shakes her head like a dog pulling at a rope. I of course had taught her 'ruh', which didn't really make much sense now I look at it. 'Ruh-o-puh-e' anyone? (Rope)
I can see how quickly her learning is coming on already, and this weekend she managed to read her first few words by sounding them out using the sounds in the Jolly Songs, much easier than my way.
My daughter also really likes listening to the Cd too, and I know other mums, who have also bought it for home use, say the same. My friend's little boy is in my daughter's class and they listen to it in the car. She has found her younger child is also picking the songs and sounds up really quickly. Like me she had being teaching "Luh, Muh, Tuh". Without even knowing it and while having fun, her three year old is going to be prepared for starting reception next year.
I have also bought some Jolly Phonics puzzles and games, and they all work well with each other. In a game of Phonics Lotto, my daughter sang the rhyme she knew related to the letter to work out how it should sound. They aren't cheap to buy, but are very good quality and in my opinion, if they help your child to learn in a fun and enjoyable way, are worth it.
My only criticism of the Jolly Songs book and CD is that I would have liked a little introduction to parents/adults and some clear descriptions of the correct pronunciation both in the book and on the CD. You can skip to the end of the CD between songs to find a demonstration, but it seems a lot of fuss to me and a brief introduction before each one would make more sense. I would have also liked to have seen a better quality cover on the book, especially given the price.
Overall Jolly Songs and Jolly Phonics in general, both really impressed me. My only regret is that I wasn't aware of them earlier as I think Jolly Songs would be a useful and fun introduction to letters for any children as soon as they are able to sing along with nursery rhymes. The focus is on enjoying the songs and not learning the letters; that seems to just happen naturally with no pressure at all.
Just be careful however, you will also find yourself singing the songs under your breath, not cool when your alone in the supermarket!
" We are clicking castanets,
c, c, c
We are clicking castanets,
c, c, c
We are clicking castanets, clicking castanets,
We are clicking castanets,
(Sung to the tune of She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain. Action: Pretend you are playing castanets)
Every parent with school aged kids must have heard of and struggled with the concept of jolly phonics. A fair number of them have confused their kids by teaching them the A B Cs as ay, bee, see only to be told on starting school that they are now called /a/, /b/ and /c/ and not even in that order anymore!
Jolly phonics is a system that teaches children the letter sounds in an enjoyable, multi-sensory way. It is the first step towards learning to identify the individual sounds that make up words, eventually blending them and learning to read.
Why is it important for parents to learn as well?
If your children are in the UK education system, chances are that this is how he or she will be taught to read. Some teachers I have come across prefer that children are not taught their letters before starting school. This of course isn't easy. Much earlier than that age most children have been read to, and have pretended to read, and have shown interest in the letters. So it's probably best for the child to learn them the way they will be taught at school.
So how does it work?
The 42 main sounds of the English language are taught. The sounds are in 7 groups and some of them are digraphs (two letter sounds). They don't follow the order of the regular alphabet.
Every sound has an accompanying song and action. For example the first sound, s, has the song 'The snake is in the grass' to the tune of 'The farmer in the dell' and the action of weaving your hand in an S shape like a snake while saying ssssss. The songs are very short.
How does the book help?
The book sets out all 42 letter sounds, in order, two to a page, with the corresponding song and a pleasing illustration to each. It also describes the action and has a picture of it as well. After the letter songs is the vowel song. The book ends with a two page spread on games and activities to encourage practice.
Also included is an audio CD with all the songs, sung by children to piano music.
What I liked about this book
The songs are the exact ones children learn in school. I wish I'd had this when my elder daughter was in Reception, as she'd sometimes forget and ask me at home about a particular song or action. With my second I'm prepared thanks to this book!
The actions are well described and easy to understand and remember. These same action pictures used to be photocopied by the teacher and stuck on my daughter's sound notebook.
The book is very light and a convenient size to take along on car journeys to sing along to the CD. Each sound is written in big simple letters (and it is simple letters they'll learn first in school) so in combination with the illustrations quite easy for the child to keep up with what sound is being currently sung.
What I didn't like
These songs are *very* short so though that in itself is an advantage it ends all too soon. I wish each song could have been sung three times so that the child gets a chance to enjoy the song properly before moving on to the next.
Using the book
I think it's best to learn a couple of sounds at a time and make sure it has sunk in before moving on to the next. I join along enthusiastically singing with my child while doing the actions. Of course it is very important that the book is used in conjunction with the CD. The child would learn the songs and actions in no time, but the whole point is that they associate it with the correct letter.
Some parents might prefer to use flashcards instead of the book while singing the songs. This depends on the child obviously. With mine it would stop being play and would border on being a chore as it's not something that interests her. So bear in mind that you might want to buy a pack of phonic sounds flashcards depending on your child's learning/play style.
We've only had this a few days and it's going really well. My daughter enjoys it and I'm happy that there's no conflict with the teaching style she will eventually learn through.
This book is available for £6.24 on Amazon. The book is printed in Malaysia but the songs are sung in British English.