Frequently Asked Questions

Why teach to read with Phonics?Books-for-older-struggling-readers

Written languages are codes of symbols which represent spoken language. In some scripts, the symbols may represent parts of the word. In the English Phonic Code, the symbols (letters) represent units of single sounds.

Teaching reading with phonics unlocks the code to beginner readers. Teaching reading without phonics is like teaching children a secret code without the key to decode it.

Some children are natural code-breakers, but many are not.

What is different about Synthetic Phonics?

Synthetic phonics differs from traditional phonics. In the past children were taught to break up words like ‘cat’ into ‘c’ and ‘at’. The word would be taught as part of the ‘at’ word list.

Synthetic phonics teaches children to identify each sound in the word separately and then blend or ‘synthesize’ the sounds together into a word.

Children are taught to blend and segment each sound in the word.

What is blending and segmenting?

Blending is pushing the sounds together into a word, for example, ‘c’ ‘a’ ‘t’ – ‘cat’. This is an underlying skill for reading.

Segmenting is isolating the sounds in a word, for example, ‘c’ ‘a’ ‘t’ are the sounds in the word ‘cat’. This is an underlying skill for reading and spelling.

Our books are decodable. What are decodable books?

Decodable books have texts which the student can read, using the phonics they have already been taught. The text is controlled to enable the reader to read independently at every stage.

This develops reliable and successful strategies for tackling new words: blending sounds into words rather than trying to guess the words. It also builds the reader’s confidence, as he/she will experience success while using the method taught in the classroom.

What are the Initial and Extended Phonic Codes?

The English Phonic Code is complex. Beginner readers start with the simple part: the Initial Phonic Code. This includes the sounds of the alphabet within CVC (consonant/vowel/consonant), adjacent consonants in 4 and 5 sound words (e.g. ‘land’, ‘from’, ‘blend’) and the consonant digraphs (ch, sh, th, ck, ng and qu). The Initial Phonic Code is taught in Units 1-15 in the Dandelion Launchers Series for younger children and the Moon Dogs  Series Set 1 and 2, Magic Belt and That Dog! for older, struggling readers.

The Extended Phonic Code includes the vowel and consonant sounds which are represented by alternative spellings. For example, ai, ay, a, ea, a-e all spell the sound ‘ae’. The Extended Phonic Code is taught in our books for older readers in the Moon Dogs Vowel Spelling Series, Alba, Totem, Rescue, Island Adventure, Titan’s Gauntlets, Talisman 1 and Talisman 2 Series.

How do the books fit in with the phonics program in my school?

In general, our books can be used with ANY phonics program a school is using. Every program introduces the sounds in a slightly different order. Our books follow the Sounds-Write® Reading and Spelling program. Each of our books lists what the student needs to know before reading.

If the order of the introduction of sounds is different, delay the reading the book until the student has covered all of the sounds. To check the phonic progression of the series, please visit the specific product page or alternatively it is listed on the back of our books.

Catch-up Series (age 8+)

The Moon Dog Series are an ideal resource for older, beginner readers or those children who need to go back to the absolute basics of being taught in a systematic way.

The Magic Belt and That Dog Series are aimed at readers at CVC level.

Totem and Alba Series are for readers with gaps in their phonic knowledge. The series starts at CVC word level and quickly revises and consolidates the essential phonics that a catch-up reader needs to secure. It includes adjacent consonants, consonant digraphs and some alternative spellings for vowel sounds.

Talisman Series 1 continues from the Totem Series with further alternative spellings for vowel and consonant sounds and suffixes, e.g. ‘tion’.

The Rescue and Island Adventure Series are parallel to and cover the same phonic progression as Talisman 1.

The Titan’s Gauntlets Series introduces alternative vowel and consonant spellings and common Latin suffixes.

The Talisman 2 Series includes more additional alternative spellings and more text per page.

For what age group are the books suitable?

Our Dandelion Launchers range are suitable for use with children age 3-5 to introduce the sounds of the alphabet at CVC word level, progressing to adjacent consonants and consonant digraphs.

All of our Catch-up Series are suitable for older, reluctant readers aged 8-14 +.

Who are the workbooks for?

Our workbooks complement our reading books. They are photocopiable programs of work for students who need further practice in blending, segmenting, spelling and reading comprehension. They can be used in mainstream class settings, for group work or individual tuition.  Other activities are directly linked to the reading books and designed to develop reading fluency, comprehension, spelling, writing and vocabulary.

How do I use the workbooks?

Many of the activities in the workbooks are linked to the stories in the books, making the activities relevant and contextual. Some activities should be introduced before reading the books and others, such as comprehension, should be introduced after reading the books.

A short explanation on each page explains when and how to introduce the activity.