We’ve been using Explode the Code for a year now so I wanted to write some thoughts on our experience with it.
I started Mira on Explode the Code 1 when she was 4 years old. I contemplated purchasing Get Ready for the Code but as I flipped through the book I felt she would do better by going right into Book 1. We had previously dabbled with Sing, Spell, Read & Write and I felt she was already beyond the primer book. As it is she’s been plowing through her ETC books and will be starting her official Kindergarten year with Explode the Code 3.
I purchased the Teacher’s Guide for books 1 and 2 but in hindsight I would have saved my money and just stuck with the workbooks. They are self-explanatory and it’s very easy to come up with additional practice and game ideas if you so desire.
The workbooks are just that- very “workbookey”. I was a bit unsure about starting them up so early with Mira because they looked rather boring: the pages are black and white with simple cartoon illustrations. But I suppose that’s the allure of them because Mira loves to laugh at the “armless” rat pictures and their depiction of someone “hunting”. Their sentences are silly and keep Mira chuckling. Mira was eager to practice writing and ETC workbooks allowed her to fill that desire. They are a great way to practice writing skills while learning phonics.
If you are starting ETC with a younger child keep in mind the books can get a bit repetitive. We generally do 2 pages a day. I try to leave it to one writing page and one reading page. Sometimes I have to skip a page and come back in order to get that specific line-up. Since Mira is still young I don’t like doing more than one page of writing. Some days we may do three or even four pages of ETC if Mira is really focused and wants to continue, but if I add pages it is almost always just the reading ones. I suppose if Mira wrote quicker we would easily be able to do more pages at a time but she is meticulous when it comes to her writing and really takes her time on each individual letter. As her natural speed increases I envision doing 4 pages at a time. A normal ETC lesson takes 5-10 minutes.
Mira is able to grab her workbook and work on her pages with minimal guidance or assistance from me. That’s a plus as it allows me some time to work with my younger kids. The workbooks also work great when paired with The Ordinary Parents Guide To Teaching Reading and Marie Rippel’s All About Spelling (I will be posting my thoughts on these two programs sometime in the near future.)
Update- further ETC posts here.