Phonics Under the Big Top

Gamifying the educational system


Gamifying Education

Prior to “Phonics Under the Big Top,” there was no dedicated mobile application that existed to teach kids the Phonetics of the Australian English language.

Phonics Under The Big Top was program aimed at creating a gamified mobile experience for kids aged 3-5, delivered via an iPad or Android Tablet.

It uses the Jolly Phonics methodology and it’s multi-sensory synthetic phonics program, making learning to read and write fun for kids..

“ We wanted to deliver an Australian centric best in class practice synthetic approach to learning Phonics. We wanted it to be engaging, interactive, exploratory and fun. ”

The Insight

Edutainment [education + entertainment]

We took this project as a real opportunity to deliver an educational program which used the principles of gamification and reward mechanics to engage kids with this key educational development program. This provided children with with instant reward & recognition and a reason to progress and complete all modules within the program.

A key part of this brief was to create an application that can be used to teach 3-5 year olds, the Phonetics of the Australian English language.

Key functional attributes of this application are:

  • Teaching kids the sounds (phonemes) given to you
  • Introducing kids to the principles of phonics and reinforce with fun activities
  • Showing each sound, relating it to pictures and getting kids to practice
  • Showing how sounds can be blended together
  • Letting children have a go at building words with sounds

The Experience


Rather than building a program that was just systematic and based on achievement, we decided to build “Phonics Under The Big Top” using a narrative based approach which took the form of a Circus and child’s adventure and excitement when attending such an experience.

We created an illustrated Circus adventure which took kids on an interactive journey of Phonics Discovery, where the user plays a variety of circus games that reinforce the phonemes (Letter Sounds) of the Australian English Language. Based on their achievement, they get to progress to harder levels within the application.

The application introduces the Jolly Phonics methodology. Jolly Phonics is a systematic synthetic phonics programme designed to teach children to read and write. Children learn the 43 letter sounds of the English language, rather than the alphabet. They are then taken through the stages of blending and segmenting words to develop reading and writing skills.

There are two main approaches to teaching phonics: analytic and synthetic. Both approaches require the learner to develop the ability to hear and discriminate sounds in spoken words. Jolly Phonics is a scheme which comes under the Synthetic Phonics method.

This app was ranked in the Top 50 iPad Apps under the education category in 2014 and is being trialled in many schools within Australia and soon to be launched in other global markets.


  • Creation of a gamified interface system
  • Use of Mobiconnect loyalty mechanics to reward users
  • Mobiconnect powered content publishing and rich analytics
  • Use of the Cocos Studio gaming engine