curriculum review: Explode the Code

We’ve been using the Explode the Code series of workbooks this year.

Explode the Code, Book 1   -              By: Nancy Hall

Eliza has completed book 1 and 2 and is halfway through book 3.  I ordered them as a supplement to the language/phonics program we would be doing when we started last fall and they quickly became a primary tool for us.

I would not say ETC is a comprehensive program for phonics or spelling, but it does cover those disciplines in wonderful bite-sized ways.  It also gives your child handwriting practice.

ETC assumes when you start book 1 that your child knows their consonant sounds, but does a brief review of them in the beginning of the book.  It then moves to the vowel sound ‘a’ and, by the end of book 1, covers all the vowels, with the child spelling short one-syllable words from the get go and progressively incorporating the new vowel sounds.

Book 2 covers initial consonant blends and final consonant blends.  Book 3 reiterates all the skills taught so far and moves on to one-syllable words ending with a long vowel (such as -y and silent -e words).  It also teaches digraphs (-sh, -th, -wh, -ch, -ng, -ck) and trigraphs (-tch, -ee-ea, -ai-ay, and -oa-ow).

Also, there are Explode the Code primers which teach the consonant sounds in order to prepare for the basic Explode the Code.  Furthermore they have ETC books 1 1/2 and 2 1/2, etc.  These in between books provide extra practice for the student who needs it.

The ETC series has 8 books total that range from dipthongs, word families, three letter blends, soft c and g and suffixes/endings.  I’m not sure if we’ll continue on with it or not, but for this Kindergarten year, ETC has been invaluable for phonics reinforcement and basic spelling.

The workbooks are not overwhelming.  The pages are easy to complete and really boost the child’s confidence.  Eliza has felt very competent to work in them independently and we have found 2 pages per day to be manageable and suit our needs.

If you have a preschool, kindergarten or 1st grade student (depending on their abilities) these first Explode the Code books may be useful for you to check out.