Jelly and Bean

Frequently Asked Questions

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Marlene Greenwood (nee Whalley) was born in Lancashire in 1945. She lived in Ramsbottom until 1951. Then the family moved to Manchester. Four years later they moved to Southport. In 1956 Marlene passed the 11 plus examination and began her secondary education at Southport Highschool for Girls.

She acheived 9 GCE O Levels in 1961 and 3 A levels in 1963. These were Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry.

After marrying in 1964, she and her husband moved to Wolverhampton and bought their first house in Shifnal, Shropshire. Her husband's career then took them to Horsforth, near Leeds, in 1968 and to Garforth in 1970. Their two children were born in Garforth in 1970 and 1972. In 1977 the family moved to Harrogate, where they have lived ever since.

In the late 1970's Marlene went back to her first love, drawing and painting. She achieved another A Level, Art, in 1980.  But she wanted to participate productively within society and after revising A Level Mathematics, she attended Leeds University until 1984 gaining a BSc Honours degree in Mathematics and the History and Philosophy of Science.

Following a PGCE course in 1985, Marlene became a qualified teacher of Mathematics at secondary school level. She taught pupils of all ability levels. Her teaching groups ranged from pupils in Year 7 to A Level Pure and Applied Maths groups in Year 13. She also taught GCSE Information Technology.

She retired from teaching in 1996. By this time she had two young grandchildren. She became interested in how children learn to read. She wrote and illustrated some books based on phonics in 1997. When the National Literacy Strategy was launched in 1998, she had already written a phonic reading scheme. She adapted the order of the phonics introduced in the scheme to match the order in the National Literacy Strategy. Over the next few years these became the complete Jelly and Bean reading scheme of 140 books.



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A. The Jelly and Bean resources of books and writing activities have been designed for children between the ages of 4 and 7 years of age in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 classes in schools in the United Kingdom. 

They introduce letters and words for children to learn in small steps. Children are successful at each stage. They learn without any difficulty and enjoy the process. This motivates them to want to learn more. The stories begin by introducing a few letters in a few words that the children understand. They learn to write the letters and say the words.

Initially, they also learn a single sound that corresponds to a single letter in words like 'cat' and 'dog'. However, when they meet words like 'the, I, to, go, me, is, my, you, are', where the letters do not correspond one-to-one with the sounds within the words, they learn these as specific words with specific spellings.

It is important that the children know the meaning of these words as they appear in sentences, so that they have the extra clues of syntax (order of words in sentences) and semantics (meaning of words) to help them work out how to pronounce the words they see written down.

There are no easy phonic rules that apply to these words. In fact, the sounds within all words are abstract knowledge which children have to learn to identify whilst they are learning the written equivalent.

The phonic phases (the order in which the sounds in words are introduced) that underpin the Jelly and Bean books are those of Letters and Sounds (2007). The phonic teaching strategy (of analysing written words to identify the sounds within them) is based on the National Literacy Strategy (1998).

Within the detailed guidance for these two schemes, the Department for Education identified the elements of a systematic phonic progression and the 100 most common words in written English that children need to know for them to make progress in learning to read and write.

These words have been incorporated into our books gradually. Their first point of introduction can be found in our Reading Order List.

By combining these two aspects of the National Literacy Strategy and Letters and Sounds, we have ensured that our books fit comfortably within the Phonic Phases of Letters and Sounds and also the coloured book-band system for guided reading. Our Reading Order List gives the book-band colour, the phonic phase, the point of introduction of each letter/sound correspondence and the point of introduction of the 100 most frequently written words in English as well as the next 200 most common words.


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No. The order of introduction of letters and sounds is different in all the phonic programmes. However, they all introduce the letters of the alphabet, the consonant digraphs, 'th, sh, ch' and the vowel digraphs, 'ee, oo' in the Reception Year.



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The use of these two words early in the A Series is due to them being on the old list of 45 high-frequency words set out in the National Literacy Strategy in 1998 for children to learn in the Reception Year.

However, they are both very useful verbs to hold CVC words together in simple sentences.

Both words have two identical letters in the middle, 'ee' and 'oo'. It is possible to draw a pair of eyes in each of these letters. The verbs 'see' and 'look' then genuinely do represent their own meanings. In this way, the words 'see' and 'look' become very good reminders of the sounds for 'ee' and 'oo' in other words learnt later.

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The letter 'y' has at least four different roles in the English language, three of these as vowels and one as a consonant. Young children meet these different roles in the very common words 'mummy, my, yes, gym' before they first attend school.

Jelly and Bean books deal with the role used in 'mummy' first. Here the sound at the end of the word 'mummy' is /i/ (or sometimes /ee/, depending on accent and region). Now, 'i' is a shy little letter and does not like to be at the end of a word, so big tough 'y' helps him out and takes his place. This rule is known as the 'Shy i, Toughy y Rule' and it gives children a good way to remember that we use 'y' at the ends of words like 'happy, daddy, sorry' and 'mummy'. Children need to know this rule early so that they can write birthday cards to 'mummy' and 'daddy'.

The second role of 'y' is in words like 'my, by, cry, sky, fly', where it is pronounced as the 'long vowel' of the word 'I'. It is first introduced in the word 'my' in book 10 of the A Series.

The third role of 'y', as a consonant, can be found at the beginning of words like, e.g. 'you, yes, yell, yellow'. It is first introduced in book 15 of the A Extra Series.

The fourth role of 'y' can be found in the middle of words like 'gym, crystal, gypsy'. In words like these 'y' is pronounced the same as the 'short i' /i/.

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Yes. The phonic approach used in the books gives children in the Foundation stage in nursery schools and Montessori schools an easy introduction to reading and writing so that they will be successful and well-motivated learners.

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Yes. Our first book, A1, begins with 7 letters (a, c, h, m, n, o, t) and 5 words (cat, mat, hat, on, a). Letters and words are gradually added to the books in the AB Starter Pack, the First Words Series and Tom and Bella Series 1 until all 19 letters of Phonic Phase 2 of Letters and Sounds have been introduced. All the vocabulary is phonically regular at this stage except for the irregular word 'the'.

Then the Phonic Phase 3 letters, 'j, q, v, w, x, y, z', are introduced in words, followed by the consonant digraphs, 'sh, ch, th, ng', and the vowel digraphs, 'ee, oo, ay'. The 'high-frequency' words for this phase, 'me, my, go, to, no, he, she, we, they, you, are' are introduced at the same time. Some words with consonants to blend are also used as part of the vocabulary.

Please click on the 'Phonics' tab and access each phase from the drop-down menu for full details of the introduction of the letter/sound correspondences.

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Our books are now included in 'Which Book and Why: Using Book Bands and book levels for guided reading in Key Stage 1' published by the Institute of Education Press, 27 February 2014.

To assist teachers as best we can, we have estimated a suitable band ourselves by taking into account the number of words and sentences per page, the complexity of the sentences and the overall structure of the story. Our estimates are in the left-hand column of the reading order list and can be accessed from the Teaching Guides page.

Our books take into account the nature of the vocabulary used, making sure that it progresses gradually from simple to complex. Teachers may see the vocabulary used in each story by clicking on the appropriate icon on the Teaching Guides page.

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Decoding simply means pronouncing the words that are seen written on a page or screen. When children can pronounce a word that they see on a page, i.e. they can say it, then they have 'decoded' it.

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Jelly and Bean are sister and brother. Jelly is the female cat with blue eyes and a white chest, paws and tail. Bean is white around his nose. Otherwise, he is a black cat.  He has green eyes.

Wellington is the father of Kevin. Father and son are farm dogs and they have an outside kennel, although they live in the farmhouse when it is cold and wet.

Lotty is the farmer's pet dog. She has a basket under the kitchen table.

Jelly, Bean, Wellington, Kevin and Lotty all live at Follifoot Farm.

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