Tag Archives: explode the code

Throwing Stuff at the Wall Until It Sticks

Does your 6 year old know the word "blot"?

Some things we learn about, such as science or history, are things that, if the kids don’t perfectly get it or remember it, it doesn’t really matter.  Obviously, it would be great if they remembered every detail of Norse mythology we read about in the last two weeks, but I’m not holding my breath.  If, in a couple years, they can see a reference to the Valkyries and know what that is, I’ll be thrilled.  If they don’t get it, no big deal, we just move on.  I’m not saying it’s not important, but the specific sort of aren’t.  The thing that matters is that we’re doing something.

However, other things have to be mastered, like math and reading.  With Mushroom these days, I feel like we’re just throwing things against the wall until it sticks for reading.  I have no doubt that he’ll get it.  Six and not devouring chapter books is hardly a late reader.  But we’ve had so many different starts.  Here’s some of the things I threw at the wall, so to speak.

Starfall.  Starfall really helped BalletBoy learn to read.  At least, I think it did.  I still don’t entirely understand how BalletBoy taught himself to read last year, but I think Starfall gets some credit.  I tried to get Mushroom to use it some more this year.  It’s fine, but he memorized most of the books and it’s not really doing anything for him anymore.

Explode the Code Online.  That didn’t stick.  It will go down in history as the first big waste of money in our homeschooling journey.  Mushroom quickly figured out how to play it like a video game, clicking things very fast and memorizing pictures.  Clicking things fast is weighed more heavily than getting it right.  He got nothing out of it.

The BOB books.  When he was smaller, he didn’t find these appealing.  Then a friend handed them down and he was willing to give them a try.  He has just never found any fluency with them though.  And they quickly got old.  We still use them, but they weren’t the thing that really got him reading.

The I See Sam Books.  He likes them.  They only cost is the time it takes to print them out and staple them together.  They’re actually really cute.  However, they suffer from some of the same problems as the BOB books for Mushroom.  They’re part of what we’re using, but they haven’t totally made it just click for him.

Explode the Code workbooks.  This is working much better for us than the online program.  There are still some strange words (“Mama, what’s a crag?” or “Mama, what do they mean the pop spills?  What’s pop?”) and some strange pictures that take me awhile to decipher.  However, it’s working, at least a little.  This program, by the way, is going excellently for BalletBoy as a way to shore up his phonics.  It’s just not as good for Mushroom.

Blend Phonics.  It’s free and it has the kind of word lists I wanted in order to play games.  We made cards, we played sounding out games, we used the whiteboard a whole bunch.  I think it helped.  At least a little.

Progressive Phonics.  It’s free too.  We haven’t been doing the worksheets (I thought they looked far too easy).  However, we’ve been trying the readers.  In a way, they’re too easy.  Sounding out one word, when you isolate it, is much easier than a long string of words.  By word number five, Mushroom is worn out and starts mixing up sounds or guessing.  However, it’s a confidence builder to have him doing some of the basic books.

I’m sure if you ask me in another couple of weeks, I’ll be throwing something else against the wall to see if it sticks and I’ll have another resource we’ve tried.  Like I said, I know it’ll come.  I’m just waiting.  Trying new things, circling back to old ones.  Working on it a little every day.  CVC words, blends, silent E.  CVC words, blends, silent E.  Okay, back to CVC words…