Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Jolly Literacy Review

As a mom, I get to teach my kids all sorts of things. One of my favorite things though is teaching my little ones to read. It was exciting when I taught first grade years ago in a private school and I got to help those students learn to read; how much more exciting it is now being able to help my own children. Hearing them sound out the letters, watching as they recognize the word, seeing their faces light up as they realize they are reading--I love it all!

Not everyone is as enthusiastic as I am about the reading process though. That's why it's important to find a phonics program that works for you. I didn't use any curricula to teach my first 3 kids, but instead used my own methods. My number 4 is now 4-years-old and is ready to begin learning. Since we had the opportunity to review Jolly Phonics and Jolly Grammar from and just2ducks LLC, I thought it would be interesting to teach him from the beginning with this curriculum.

The Jolly curriculum is meant to be just that--jolly. Happy, cheerful, fun. It was designed with young children in mind and uses a multi-sensory approach. The set includes the following materials:
  • Jolly Phonics Teacher's Book in print letters
  • Jolly Phonics Student Book 1, 2, and 3
  • Jolly Grammar 1 Teacher's Book in print letters
  • Jolly Grammar 1 Student Book
  • Jolly Songs in print letters

The Phonics Teacher's Book is an all-in-one guide book for the three student phonics books. It's filled with tips, how-tos, and the daily lesson plans. Each day's tasks are marked by bullet points with a brief explanation. A word-for-word script is not given, allowing for plenty of flexibility and encouraging your own personality to lead. The book is divided in four sections (comprehensive introduction & explanation of teaching method and lesson guides for students books 1, 2, and 3). Each section is conveniently color-coded on the edges, making it simple to find what you need. 

The Phonics Student Books are the individual workbooks for the student. Book 1 focuses on teaching the main 42 sounds of the English language. They learn to recognize, write, and read. Book 2 provides the student with numerous opportunities to practice reading and writing the sounds they just learned. It also introduces common alternative spellings for sounds, explains capital letters, and teaches some tricky words. Book 3 builds upon the reading and writing skills taught in the first two books. The students gain a greater understanding of alternative letter-sound spellings, teaches more tricky words, and encourages writing independence. All the books are filled with pictures, colors, and many activities to keep the student's interest.

The Grammar Teacher's Book is divided into two parts: introduction to the curriculum & explanation of teaching method and a thorough, structured lesson plan for the course. The curriculum builds on and reinforces the skills taught in the phonics books. It is designed to introduce grammar, teach spelling, improve vocabulary and comprehension skills, and extend phonic knowledge. The format of the lesson plans is the same as in the phonic teacher's book.

The Grammar Student Book is an 80-page student workbook. The pages are thick, colorful, and bursting with grammar activities. It carries over the action exercises from the phonics books and encourages fun with learning. There are pages for coloring, tracing, matching, drawing, dictionary use, dictation, and more.

The Songs Book has 40 original songs that teach the most common sounds in the English language. Each song is set to a familiar children's tune, like Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star; The Farmer in the Dell;Old MacDonald, and Skip to My Lou. Motions are given to help the child remember the words and make it fun. A CD is also included. 

Since my little guy is just starting out, the very beginning of the lessons was the perfect place for him. The lessons are short, which works out well with his short attention span. Each lesson teaches a new sound through a short story, letter formation, recognition of sound through pictures, and sound practice. By the third lesson, the student is forming his first word. My son knows his letters and sounds, but since this book isn't solely about teaching only the 26 letters of the alphabet, he's already learning about "special sounds" like or, th, oo, and sh.

Although he does know the basic sounds of letters, I hadn't worked on blending those sounds to make words before this point. When we got to lesson 3, he had to combine the sounds he had learned. I was shocked when he simply read at and sat! Allowing simple reading in the beginning of the book was encouraging to both him and me. From then on, he has begged daily to do his books.

We're only about halfway through book 1, but this has been working very well for us. He enjoys the lessons, likes the stories, and has fun acting out the songs. I appreciate the short lessons and the quality of the materials. I am excited about the later books as they really branch out in terms of variety. I think the materials from is helping me add another strong reader to our family.  

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