Reviewed by David Savage
In the past, I have been a foster carer and loved helping the children learn new things. They needed help with phonics and reading and I knew very little about phonics as I wasn’t taught that way at school. So I needed some help so that I could help them and the Hot Dots Let’s Learn! Jolly Phonics Set was recommended to me so I bought a set to give it a try.
The Hot Dots Let’s Learn! Jolly Phonics Set is aimed at children aged between 3 and 7 years old. The set I bought came with 3 interactive books (Letter Sounds, First Words and Vowels) and the Inky Mouse Talking Pen (requires 2xAAA batteries, not supplied). The books have 192 self-checking activities to help learn and improve reading and writing with Jolly Phonics. You can buy the pen and books separately, as well as other different books.
The idea of this system is very simple, each book is illustrated and has three black dots under each picture. So, to begin with, using book 1, the idea is to identify the beginning, medial and final sounds in words with questions such as:
What is the sound at the start of the word? The book shows a picture of a snake with the letters d, s and k underneath the picture. The child then has to push their pen onto the correct dot. With the Inky Mouse Talking Pen one ear lights up green if correct, while the other ear lights up red if incorrect. In addition to coloured ears, the pen also has encouraging phrases like “That’s right”, “Well done”, “Great” and “Hooray” when the correct dot is pressed. If the wrong dot is pressed it says phrases like “Oh dear”, “Oops”, “Try again” and “Uh-oh”. The children really like the pen.
As you work through the book it will then move on to what sound is at the end of the word and finally what sound is in the middle of the word. The book doesn’t read the questions or words for the children, so you do have to sit with the children and read the questions, getting them to sound out the word in the picture for themselves.
Book 2 focuses on words; read simple words using the main letter sounds taught in Jolly Phonics. The child has to match the word to the picture by pressing the correct dot, encouraging them to sound out the word and blend them together.
Book 3 focuses on vowels; practise vowel sounds and their alternative spellings. Again, you have to match the correct word to the picture by getting the vowel sound correct, e.g. ay or ai for words like rain.
I think phonics in general and the Jolly Phonics Hot Dots is an excellent system. It is very easy to use and the kids love it (and it is also teaching me about phonics while working with the children). As they are progressing through these activity books more advanced books can be purchased (tricky words, consonant blends, longer words and phrases & sentences), which I have since purchased to expand on the set (there are also maths books available).
Each book has 32 pages with 64 questions per book. They provide hours of learning in a fun way. The spiral-bound books are durable and wipe clean, which is great as young children always seem to get dirty and sticky hands! The pen sounds can be turned off so just the flashing ears tell you if you have the right or wrong answer or you can sound, words or a mix of both (can be selected using the buttons on the front of the pen).
More pens can also be purchased; the original pen, Ace the Talking, Teaching Dog pen and Inky Mouse Talking Pen.
This is very educational, fun, interactive and no there is absolutely no screen time involved! An excellent way to help children support children on their journey to reading, and reading is a very essential skill.
Available to buy from www.learningresources.co.uk.