Piglet has been enjoying phonics in a very casual way over the past year.
He’s been learning letter sounds, forming letters with his finger, blending sounds to read words, listening for sounds in the words he hears (also known as “segmenting”) and looking at a few tricky (irregular) words.
I know it doesn’t sound casual, in fact it may sound highly technical if you’re unfamiliar with phonics. But the material we use (from Jolly Phonics) is so easy to teach and Piglet likes doing it so much that all of it seems more like play.
And it is play. The Jolly Phonics characters are endearing, the songs are lively and memorable, the indented letters in the Finger Phonics books are lovely for little fingers to trace, and the games are engaging.
I have taught Jolly Phonics (and its follow-up, Jolly Grammar) at home to our three children for the past 5 years and I have to say I’m not bored of it yet.
Let me share with you in more detail what Piglet and I did this year with Jolly Phonics:
- Told stories using Finger Phonics (Books 1-7)
- Blended sounds to read words in Finger Phonics books
- Traced indented letters in Finger Phonics books
- Sang all the Jolly Songs
- Learned the actions for each sound
- Looked at letter sound flashcards and tricky word flashcards
- Played games from The Phonics Handbook that involved letter recognition, blending and segmenting
We went over all of this many, many times and I’ve decided it is now appropriate to progress to other activities to maintain interest, reinforce learning and develop existing skills.
By the way I deliberately did not introduce pencil writing up till now as I wanted Piglet to develop fine motor skills and finger strength first. We did many sensory activities including making and playing with homemade play dough over the past year to achieve this. Piglet is now ready to transition from finger writing to pencil writing and his work this week demonstrates it.
Here’s what we did over the past three days to take Piglet’s phonics learning up a notch.
In preparation, I restocked our craft supplies last week and photocopied relevant pages (the Sound Sheets) from The Phonics Handbook.
On Monday, we reviewed the “S” sound. (“S” is the first sound in the first group of sounds in Jolly Phonics, 7 groups altogether.)
I told the story using Finger Phonics Book 1, blended words with Piglet (as he already knows all the letter sounds) and we sang the song “The Snake is in the Grass”. Piglet then traced the letter with his finger. (Regular stuff he knows)
To develop this further, I presented him with a blank sheet of paper and drew the letter “S” in the middle with a marker pen.
I then brought out our arsenal of craftsy bits which Piglet had never seen before. This sparked tremendous interest. I let him explore the boxes and decide what he would like to use to decorate his “S”.
He chose glittery stars. I showed him the difference between water glue, glue stick and UHU and we both agreed UHU worked the most effectively for this kind of material.
I applied the glue and Piglet got to work. I showed him how to dot on a star using a light finger and he did most of it by himself with me helping him through some sticky moments.
Pleased with the result, we put it aside to dry and I introduced the Sound Sheet.
He coloured it following the colours in Finger Phonics. I then showed him how to hold a pencil properly and trace the letter, starting at the black dot. He quickly insisted he knew it already, so I left him to it while I went to check on lunch stewing on the stove. When I got back, I was pleasantly surprised to find he had completed the whole row of letters quite well.
He made a comment on how much he liked the fat colouring pencils instead of the thinner ones and I had to agree. (We use the ones by Stabilo as they are good for small hands and their colours are vibrant.)
That was enough phonics for the day. Just 20 minutes. Later, Piglet proudly showed off his work to Puppy, Lamb and Sweet Man and was happy at how they all poured over it.
On Tuesday, we went through the same process with the next letter sound, “A”.
This was the result. (Having eyelets in one’s craft box makes me an immediate superhero in Piglet’s eyes!)
On Wednesday we did something special. We went to the regular stationery shop nearby so Piglet could choose a ring file he liked to store his growing work.
When we got home, Roo needed to nap right away and Piglet wanted to play-pretend Pirates with Puppy and Lamb so I postponed lessons.
In the evening though, it rained so after drawing with chalks on the shaded driveway outside we went on to do what we missed in the morning. (Being flexible about lessons makes everyone happy and we still get learning done!)
It was the letter “T” and I added an extra activity: “I Spy”. Piglet was excited to hunt for pictures from old magazines that began with the sounds we reviewed so far (S, A and T). We hunted for pictures for “S” first, followed by the rest.
It was rewarding to see him recognise sounds on his own.
“Toothbrush! ‘Tuh’ (the sound for ‘T’) for toothbrush!”
“Stool! Stool starts with ‘Sss’! (the sound for ‘S’)”
It was like uncovering missing treasure.
I drew frames around the pictures he selected so he could cut them out properly. Then I supplied blank paper and he pasted the pictures onto a blank sheet.
We finished the lesson by storing his work in the new ring file. Piglet watched me punch holes into the sheets of paper. I then got out ring enforcements and he stuck them on one by one so the sheets wouldn’t tear as he turned them in the file. Next, I showed him how to insert his work into the rings and he tried it himself, in the following order:
- Letter sound
- Sound Sheet
- “I Spy” picture collage
I’m happy Piglet can now use his very own decorated alphabet to practise letter formation in a sensory way, look at his Sound Sheet to review the letter sound, its action, and try blending words. With the I-Spy sheet he can associate pictures that begin with (or contain) particular sounds and relate his growing vocabulary of words to the sounds that make them.
I also like the ring file because we can go back and insert more developmental activities later on.
Join us for more phonics! I’ll be posting more as we progress, so do check in or follow on Facebook. Comments are welcome and please feel free to email me if you want more details on using Jolly Phonics at home. Thanks for reading!
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