Monday, February 9, 2009

Explode the Code

On Saturday I picked up Explode the Code from my library, thanks to Inter-library loan (ILL). They actually belong to a library in Sheboygan, WI. After all the scary warnings from library lady regarding ILL, I brought them home and have carefully looked through them (the replacement cost for one book is $50--in spite of the fact that the books actually only cost $8, at most, but whatever, I'll be very careful!)

I looked through all the levels. Books 1 and 1 1/2 cover short vowel sounds. Kiddo has those mastered. And they don't really teach any rules, per se. We'll be skipping those entirely. Books 2 and 2 1/2 cover initial consonant blends and final consonant blends. I copied a couple of review lesson pages, and did a few exercises with Kiddo orally. He is having no trouble with them at all, so I think we can safely skip them as well. Book 3 and 3 1/2 start introducing rules. Silent e, the sounds of y, and digraphs like sh,ch, etc. He knows quite a bit of what will be covered, but I like the way it is covered in these books, so I think this is where we will start. Besides, early success is a good thing!

Book 4 and 4 1/2 covers compound words, endings (-ful, ing, and the like), and syllable division. Again, he already knows some of it, but success is good! Book 5 (and I am guessing 5 1/2, though I didn't get to review it) covers some word families ( -all and -alk words, for example) three letter consonant clusters and the -ed ending. Book 6 (and I am guessing 6 1/2) finally gets to ar, er, ir, ur, or, along with igh, ea, ie, and some other vowel clusters. Much of that book will be review, so we'll see if we got that far. Book 7 (there is no 7 1/2)covers the alternate sounds of c and g, -dge and -mb, kn and wr, silent t, silent h, ear, and ph. Book 7 is also where they begin presenting passages to read and answer questions about. Book 8 (there is no 8 1/2) covers -ness and -less, -ous and -or, -ist and -ity, -ture and -ment, -able and -ible, -sion and -tion, -ance and -ence, -tive and -sive, -ify and -ize, -ti- and -ci-. all suffixes or endings.

It seems very systematic, with enough practice and exposure without overdoing it. My only complaint thus far (and keep in mind, I have only looked at most of them, not used them with a child) is the pictures. What we have done with Kiddo has required minimal explaining as far as what he is to do, but much more explanation of what the picture is showing. As an example, in one lesson, kiddo looked at a picture of a girl and said "dance!" and wrote down the word dance. Looked like she was dancing to me, too, but I knew the lesson was about consonant clusters, and dance is was not one of the words. Silent e hasn't been covered, nor has soft c, so it couldn't be dance. We had to spend some time thinking about what else she might be doing. Jump was the word we finally came up with. Another one had a picture of a boat, but the word choices were stiff, skip, and skiff. Kiddo had no clue what to circle, as he had never heard "skiff." So, while most of the activities he can do independently, Mom or Dad have to be accessible to help decipher the pictures. Even so, I think we'll give it a try.

Oh, and for the curious, the half books do not introduce new content. They simply give more practice with the content presented in the previous whole number book. I won't be buying 3 1/2. I figure I can pick it up if I find Kiddo needs more. I guess we'll see!

I am not sure what pace we will use with these. Kiddo was thoroughly enjoying them yesterday, but I also don't want to burn him out on them, so I guess we'll have to see. The lessons in book 3 are mostly 8 pages long, and there are 13 lessons. I doubt he will want to do all 8 pages in one sitting, but we will see! I am sure I will post more as we go.


kemtee said...

If it makes you feel any better, I had an intense discussion with HSH's teacher about pictures on worksheets being either indecipherable (not the fault of the copier) or impossible to match with anything. I have yet to have this discussion resolved to my satisfaction.

For this I pay tuition.

schmobes said...

Thanks for that! It actually does make me feel a bit better. Not that I can draw, but sheesh, these people in theory got paid for this!