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Jolly Phonics Letter Sounds

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Jolly Phonics is an app at helping young children in the initial stages of learning to read with phonics. With beautifully drawn scenes to display the learning content, this app will attract children to engage with it. Children learn about a group of letter sounds at a time.  They learn to form the letters, what sounds they make, and some of the words that they are used in.

Teacher Review

Jolly Phonics is an integral part of teaching and learning phonics in many schools’ around the world. This app aims to bring that knowledge and value to the digital world in a highly successful manner.

There are a number of key features in this app which is aimed at giving young people the best possible help in beginning to read and reading through phonics. Excellently for English users, there is the opportunity to choose between an English or American audio. A number of phonics apps fail to take the difference dialects make in the teaching of phonics however the audio is extremely clear and just one example of the app being clearly thought-out and aimed towards the right users.

If the user so wishes, especially if the app is being in a learning context, they can select whether the app uses print or precursive lettering. This is cleverly done is it doesn’t just change the lettering all the way through the app but also in the section where the user can practice the writing of the individual letters and the instructions given for helping do this.

On opening the app the user is welcomed to the homescreen where they can set up their profile. This is through a plant pot where the letters grow out of the flowers and the user can work their way through the learning the letters via different activities. A number of profiles can be set up allowing multiple users to play the app and each profile, or plant pot can also be personalised with photos etc. The plan pots also save the progress of the user so they can easily pick up where the left off once they have exited the app.

Once a profile has been selected the user works their way through the main 42 letter sounds of the English language. These are done through small chunks of letters of similar difficulty, progressing as the user becomes capable. All the way through the app there is an added bonus of having a ‘helping hand’ with Bee (an animated Bee) explaining to the user what they can do and how they go about doing it. This guide works in a highly successful way, more so than a written guide as it hovers over where the user needs to click etc whilst also explaining this. The user, however also has the option to turn off the sound if they so wish.

The whole design of the app is good and works at helping to engage the user. It is set in a garden, hence the flower pots as profiles, and uses different garden animals and insects to help the user through the app. This is simply yet effectively achieved all the way through the app.

There are a number of ways in which the user is able to learn the letters and sounds as they work their way through the app. These are all interactive and include copying the letter in the correct manner whilst also being given the sound and a picture related to the letter, further compounding the user’s knowledge of this. You can attempt the write the letter as many times as you wish, with the option to rub out and start again if you need more practice. There is also the option to choose from 4 different colours when writing out each letter. Once the user has been given this initial instruction in letter formation and recognition they are then taken to a different screen to help them show this recognition in both sound and sight. Throughout the app there is plenty of praise given and the user has the ability to try again if they are incorrect. If they are still struggling then they can have the sound repeated for them.

The app then moves sensibly through the process of learning a new letter. Having already moved through the recognition and formation stage and passed successfully through the sound stage the next game is the blending of the sounds that have been given into words. Again, the user is given plenty of help on this page, if they need it and are encouraged to sound out each letter individually before blending them all together. There is also the option to get further words to blend helping the user to further embed their knowledge of the sounds. To further compound this understanding the next game asks the user to listen to a word, whilst also being given a pictorial aid, and then spell it correctly by knowing which order the sounds go in. By clicking on each letter the sound is given so the user is able to successful listen and match the correct sounds and letters to the right order thus spelling the word.

As you would expect from a company so proficient in helping young people read through the phonics there is a lot of knowledge about how to do this successfully shining through in the app. It is a clear, concise and expertly put together app that understands what educators and parents need to help young people to learn to read through phonics.


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From the Developer

Start your child’s journey in reading and writing. Join Bee and her friends as they explore the enchanting letter-sounds garden and discover the main 42 letter sounds of English through a series of captivating games.

This beautifully animated app enables your child to learn the letter sounds (including digraphs), letter formation, blending the sounds for reading and identifying letter sounds in words for spelling and writing. Together these skills give your child the best possible start as they learn to read and write.

Ideal for children aged 3+, the Jolly Phonics Letter Sounds app provides hours of educational enjoyment.

Jolly Phonics leads the teaching of phonics around the world. It is the most effective way to teach reading and writing, enabling children to achieve outstanding results at school and at home.

Key Features:
◆ Suitable for children aged 3+
◆ Choice of American or British English audio and spelling (this can be toggled within the information page)
◆ Choice of print or precursive letters* (this can be toggled within the information page)
◆ Allows multiple and personalized profiles
◆ Activities for learning the main sounds in English. The children learn to:
▸ hear the letter sounds
▸ recognize the letter sounds
▸ see letter formation
▸ write the letters themselves
▸ blend sounds in words for reading
▸ identify sounds in words for spelling
◆ 7 bonus games to unlock
◆ Tested and loved by children
◆ Guidance for adults provided

Frequently asked questions
◆ The app crashes when I try to take a picture. What can I do?
This issue affects iOS 8. Please check for any iOS updates first. Then access the Settings app and scroll down on the left-hand side and touch 'Jolly Phonics Letter Sounds'. There should be an option to allow the app to access your device's camera. Once you accept the app should operate correctly.

◆ I can't hear any sound. What can I do?
The app now detects if your device sound setting is on mute and displays a speaker button giving an option to override this. Volume controls on the device can then be adjusted as necessary. Headphones can be used at any time to hear sound in the app regardless of whether the device is muted or not.

◆ How do I unlock letter sound groups?
The app takes you through each letter sound one at a time. If you wish to unlock subsequent or all letter sound groups (e.g. for teaching purposes), then please read the information page in the app for details of the 'edit mode', accessible via an invisible button.

While this App works on iPhones and iPod Touches that meet the minimum requirements, it is best viewed on iPad devices due to the bigger screen size.

Please note that this app is only available in English but can be set to either American or British English.

*Precursive letters have joining tails to assist with learning joined-up writing; print letters have no joining tails.

More Less

Learning Outcomes

Key Features

In-App Purchases - No

In-App Advertising - No

Curriculum Aligned

Yes (Find out more)