Spelling for Kindergarten with Jolly Grammar

JJolly Grammar is paired with Jolly Phonics, the course in which children are taught the sounds of letters (phonemes) so that they are able to start reading early. In Jolly Grammar, one of the main foci is spelling. Needless to say, children need to be taught how to spell correctly early on.

The following spelling features are taught in Jolly Grammar:

  • Vowel digraphs
  • Alternative spellings of vowel sounds
  • Plural endings
  • Short vowels and consonant doubling
  • Tricky words, and
  • Consonant blends

1. Vowel digraphs

A ‘vowel digraph’ is the term for two letters which together produce a single vowel sound, one or both of the letters being a vowel. Following are the different types of vowel digraphs in the English language:

  • Two letters are next to each other (could be a vowel and a consonant or two vowels), e.g. ‘ay’, or ‘ou’.
  • Two vowel letters making the so-called ‘long vowel’ sound, ie., one of the vowel letter names: ‘ai’, ‘ee’, or ‘ue’. Generally the sound they make is that of the first vowel’s name. Hence the well-known rule of thumb – ‘when two vowels go walking, the first does the talking.’
  • The long vowel sound is made by two vowels separated by one or more consonants. In monosyllabic words, the second vowel is usually an ‘e’, known as the ‘magic e’ because it modifies the sound of the first. Digraphs with a magic ‘ed’ can be thought of as ‘hop-over e’ digraphs: ‘a_e’, ‘e_e’, ‘i_e’ etc. once again, the sound they make is that of the first vowel’s name: the magic ‘e’ is silent.

2. Alternative spellings of vowel sounds

There are many words in English that have complicated spelling, and it is best that children are familiar with these alternative spellings. Below given are examples of the first spelling taught for each letter sound and the main alternatives introduced:

First spelling taught for sound

Alternative spellings of sound

Examples of all spellings in words


a_e. ay

rain, came, day



street, dream


igh, y, i_e

pie, light, by, time


ow, o_e

boat, snow, home


ew, u_e

due, few, cube


ir, ur

her, first, turn



boil, toy



out, cow


au, aw, al

corn, sauce, saw talk

3. Plural endings

It is advantageous for children to be taught plurals early on as part of grammar lessons obviously, but there is a direct spin-off for spelling also. Being aware of plural word forms prevent children from making mistakes like writing ‘dux’ when they actually have to write ‘ducks’. Also, being aware of rules for making plural forms such as adding ‘es’ to words ending with ‘sh’, ‘ch’, ‘x’, ‘s’ and ‘z’ helps children spell these words correctly.

4. Short vowels and consonant doubling

Consonant doubling is governed by short vowels. Therefore, children need to be able to identify short vowel sounds confidently.

Rules for consonant doubling:

  • In a short (i.e. monosyllabic) word with a short vowel sound, if the last consonant is ‘f’, ‘l’, ‘s’, or ‘z’. it is doubled. Eg. Cliff, bell, miss, buzz
  • In a short word with a short vowel sound, if the last consonant sound is ‘k’, this is spelt as ‘ck’. Eg. Back, neck, lick, clock, duck.
  • If there is only one consonant after a short, stressed vowel sound, this consonant is doubled before any suffix starting with a vowel, such as ‘-ed’ , ‘-er’, ‘-est’, ‘-ing’ or ‘-y’ as in hopped, wetter, biggest, and funny (When ‘y’ is a suffix, it counts as a vowel because it has a vowel sound). However, the consonant ‘x’ is never doubled, even in words such as ‘mixer’.
  • When a word ends with the letters ‘le’ and the preceding syllable contains a short, stressed vowel sound, there must be two consonants between the short vowel and the ‘le’. This means that the consonant before the ‘le’ is doubled in words such as ‘paddle’ and ‘kettle’. No doubling is necessary in words like ‘handle’ and ‘jungle’ because they already have two consonants between the short vowel and the ‘le’.

5. Tricky words

Tricky words are a group of keywords which children need to memorize. Most of them have irregular spellings. A list of the tricky words is given below:

you     so     do     go     here     come     said     my     no     there     by     old     like     only     live     give     down     have     little     what     one     because     were     before     goes     why     where     other     want     when     right     should     could     would     more     put     made     two     saw     their     four     all     do     she     we     I     are     me     he     was     be     the     some     also     of     right     mother     once     father     love     always     every

6. Consonant blends

Consonant blends (also called consonant clusters) are groups of two or three consonants in words that together produce a distinct consonant sound, such as "bl" or "spl." They are phonically regular and so provide a dependable guide for spelling. Flash cards of the blends should be used for regular practice. A time tested method is to call out blends and ask the children to say the individual sounds, holding up a finger for each one as they say it, e.g. for ‘dr’ they say ‘d’ and ‘r’ showing two fingers, and for ‘scr’ they say ‘s’. ‘c’. ‘r’, showing three fingers.

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