Earlier this week, I reviewed a great phonics game for kids ages 3+ called Teach Your Monster to Read: First Steps. It has helped my kids learn 31 English graphemes in a fun learning environment.
Today, I want to highlight another useful phonics app for kids. Called Jolly Phonics Letter Sounds, it is based on a proven approach to learning reading and writing called Jolly Phonics. Founded more than two decades ago, the approach has been used in over 100 countries around the world.
Bee, Her Friends, and A Letter-Sounds Garden
The game takes place in a virtual garden where kids grow flowers to learn 42 letter sounds of the English language. The letter sounds are divided into seven flowers, with each flower containing a slightly more difficult set.
The first flower, for example, contains only simple sounds such as s, a, t, i, p, and n. However more digraphs, such as ai, oa, and ie, are introduced as kids go through the app. When they reach the final flower, they will see nothing but digraphs.
To play, kids simply tap on a flower petal. A friendly bee will guide them to trace the letter sound on the selected petal. After tracing the first three letter sounds on each flower, they can play additional activities to build upon the sounds they’ve learned.
First, kids play with the ant to hear and learn each sound. Then, they can play with the Snail to blend the letter sounds to read them as a word. Finally, the worm will let them build words from a series of letter sounds to match the illustration.
Jolly Phonics Letter Sounds also includes a bonus mini game for each flower. These games have increasing difficulty level to test kids’ comprehension of letter sounds. For example, they will be asked to match letter sounds, identify the first letter of a spoken word, identify digraph sounds, and match word sounds.
Parents Need to Know
The Jolly Phonics approach is suitable for teaching kids ages three and up to learn how to read on their own. You can choose to have the app in either American English or British English from the main menu. The letter sounds have been arranged in a specific order to enable kids to build words as soon as possible:
s, a, t, i, p, n ck, e, h, r, m, d g, o, u, l, f, b ai, j, oa, ie, ee, or z, w, ng, v, oo y, x, ch, sh, th qu, ou, oi, ue, er, ar
The app supports multiple user profile through the use of flower pots. Each pot can be personalized using stickers for easy identification. If your child have completed all the sounds in his or her flower pot, they can either replay that pot or create a new one.
Things I Like
Even though Jolly Phonics approach does not focus heavily on letter tracing, the included commentary helps kids understand how to trace a letter. There’s a visual tutorial for each letter sound, which will instruct kids on how to move their finger as they trace the letter(s).
You can also choose to use either print or precursive letters for the tracing activity. If your kids are comfortable with cursive letters, I’d suggest choosing the precursive option. That way, they can practice their writing at the same time.
I like how the bonus mini games are made to complement your child’s learning curve. Here’s a full list of the bonus games and what makes them good:
- Apple: Tap the apple with the label that matches the letter sounds pronounced by the narrator. It’s simple and suitable for early learners.
- Bug: Find a pair of matching letter sounds hidden underneath the ladybugs. This game helps kids learn to associate how a sound is written and pronounced, and how to memorize them.
- Frog: Identify the letter that starts the word spoken by the narrator. Because the word is never shown, kids learn to rely on their hearing. It’s a crucial skill for word building.
- Snail: Similar to the Apple game, but it focuses more on the digraphs. After your kids are comfortable with the non-digraph sounds, they can practice with the more complex sounds and prepare for the next games.
- Mole: Read the word and find the matching picture. The narrator stays quiet, so kids must read the word on their own.
- Fish: Similar to the Snail game, but the narrator speaks a full word instead of the digraph sound. Kids need to pay attention to the narrator and identify the digraph contained in the spoken word.
- Flower Seeds: Find the word that matches what the narrator is saying. This is the final test of your kids’ reading abilities as they need to identify the word said by the narrator.
Jolly Phonics Letter Sounds is a great phonics app for kids ages three and up. Based on a proven approach, it includes up to 10 well-designed mini games to keep your kids engaged and challenged. The app also supports multiple user profiles, making it suitable for siblings and classroom use.
App was provided for our honest review.