Advice Centre > For Parents & Students > Learning Resources > Primary > Junior Infants > Activity books for Junior Infants: phonics

When it comes to the first year of primary school, there is a lot to learn. From making new friends to finding confidence with numbers and letters, Junior Infants is an exciting milestone in every child's life. If you are looking to support your child in the transition from preschool years up to Junior Infants, or aid their learning in the classroom, activity books are a great solution.

The methods used to teach children to read have changed a lot over the years and today the Irish school system recommends programmes such as Jolly Phonics and Just Phonics to help children explore different sounds and words at a very quick pace. In this article, we will take you through ways you can support your child with their phonics learning, and introduce some great activity books so you can find the right phonics programme for your Junior Infant.

Supporting your Junior Infant with phonics

Phonics is a key skill your child will be introduced to and encouraged to develop during Junior Infants. Specifically, phonics teaching involves demonstrating the relationship between the spoken language (word sounds, or phonemes) and the written language (the letters, or graphemes, and syllables that make up words). Often referred to as a reading 'superpower', supporting your child with phonics will help them become fast and fluent readers with the ability to recognise how the spelling of a word impacts how it sounds.

Outside of the classroom, there are many ways you can support your child with mastering phonics, such as:

Keep sessions brief

Children starting Junior Infants are only 4-5 years old, so you may find that your child is unable to concentrate for long periods of time. Try to keep each phonics session brief and at a suitable time and place, where your child is free from distractions.

Make learning fun

Teaching at Junior Infants level is usually structured around play, so an effective phonics resource should make learning fun. Whether you're doing guided reading sessions or just trying to master simple words, incorporating games and enjoyable activities will help your child feel more comfortable with engaging in their studies and less embarrassed about making mistakes.

Sounding out words

Instead of learning how to read through word recognition and repetition, phonics teaches your child how to segment words into sounds that can be blended back together quickly. You can demonstrate this around the home and in the environment by sounding out the names of things your child sees and interacts with in their everyday life.

Using pictures as memory cues

Lots of children benefit from visual memory cues when learning letters and sounds. These might be flashcards, pictures in their favourite books, personal drawings or anything else which can help them remember those connections between what they see in print and how they describe this in spoken language.

Once your child has a grasp of their phonemes and graphemes, the benefits translate through to every aspect of their primary education. Phonics is often described as the bridge between reading and being able to write, and you will notice that their writing skills quickly improve as they begin to master phonics.

Finding the right phonics activity book for your child

The best activity books for Junior Infants are full of fun characters, images and games which hold their attention. If your child is at preschool and preparing for Junior Infants, look for activity books that support basic phonics skills such as listening and recognising sounds in the environment, developing vocabulary and increasing awareness of patterns such as rhyme and alliteration.

Junior Infants tends to begin with an introduction to the alphabet and the sound each letter makes. Your child’s teacher might use a synthetic phonics approach that breaks words up into their smallest units of sound so that children can blend these units to form a whole word and make the correct correspondence between letters and sounds. We recommend that you learn how to pronounce the letters in the way your child is being taught at school by their class teacher to make the learning process as straightforward as possible for your child.

Finding a phonics activity book for your Junior Infant should therefore focus on their current skill or ability and what they still have to learn, as well as the kind of learning approach that is most effective for them (such as visual, guided reading, etc.).

Just Phonics

Just Phonics - Junior Infants 1 - 26 Letters – Just Phonics – Junior Infants 1 – 26 Letters

This is a great choice for preschool and Junior Infant children, as it focuses on helping them recognise the sights and sounds of the 26 letters of the English alphabet. It includes a fold-out section with raised letters which helps a child’s kinaesthetic development by tracing their finger over each letter to understand how it is formed.

Just Phonics - Junior Infants 2 - 42 sounds – Just Phonics – Junior Infants 2 – 42 Sounds

A great follow-on from the above, this book is ideal for the transition from letter recognition and formation to consolidating phonetic sounds. It also features a fold-out spread with raised letters.

Just Phonics Early Years Learning - 3-5years – Just Phonics – 3-5 Years

Aligned with Aistear, this book incorporates activities including body percussion, nursery rhymes, everyday sounds and fairy tales to support your child’s auditory discrimination abilities.

Jolly Phonics

Jolly Phonics Pupil Book 1 - in Print Letters

Jolly Learning Ltd – Jolly Phonics – Pupil Book 1 – in Print Letters (Colour)

Pupil Book 1 introduces the main English-language letter sounds through stories and actions, demonstrates how to use these letter sounds in reading and writing, and identifies some initial tricky words. Teachers can provide support with the Jolly Phonics Teacher Book.

Jolly Phonics Workbook 1 - Pre Cursive Letters

Jolly Learning Ltd – Jolly Phonics Workbooks 1-7

This series provides children with a complete programme for putting their phonics skills into practice. Starting with letter sound recognition and building up to reading and writing whole sentences and phrases, these workbooks will engage your child with activities, stories and exercises.

Jolly Phonics Activity Book 1

Jolly Learning Ltd – Jolly Phonics Activity Books 1-7

Another set of seven books, this series covers one group of letters per activity book. Structured around a synthetic phonics approach, activities include colouring, flashcards, puzzles and word and picture matching, as well as stories for each letter sound.

Other phonics activity books

Sounds in Action - Junior Infants

Folens – Sounds in Action – Junior Infants

This book includes stickers and bright colours which are designed to make learning fun. It is designed to be carefully graded, and children will be taken through all letters and sounds with guided revision and repetition.

Sounds in Focus Junior Infants Scrapbook

Prim-Ed Publishing – Sounds in Focus – Junior Infants Scrapbook

Sounds in Focus is a classroom resource that focuses on pre-reading and pre-writing phonics. Children complete activities for developing their vocabulary, fine motor skills and visual and auditory discrimination skills, then engage in an art task that they can then detach from the book to take home.

Phonics activity book - Look, Listen and Learn - Junior Infants

CJ Fallon – Look, Listen and Learn – Junior Infants

A jam-packed activity book that supports a multi-sensory learning approach, this book is broken into sections, with activities, puzzles, dot-to-dot letter formations and regular reviews to monitor progress.