Wonder in the Woods

Living and Learning in the Pacific Northwest

Exploding the Code

This fall, we mostly worked on reading, spelling, math and our state by state quilt project.  This week we are on break.

Hunter finished Headsprout in September but retention from the last half of the program is not very high.  I would recommend lessons 1 through 40 to jumpstart reading, but not the second set of lessons unless your child really loves the program.  Chandler is on lesson 31.  Chandler is reading real books and catching on quickly.

Last year we also did a lot of work with the Dolch sight words and Hunter remembers most of those, and he remembers the most repetitive words in Headsprout, mostly from lessons 1 through 40.  This tells me he needs more repetition.  So we’ll work on the 2nd and 3rd grade sight words in 2012.

Hunter also does very well with this Paint Chip Word Family Game.

Hunter and Chandler can read this book set without frustration. I’m celebrating their progress!  Scholastic First Little Readers are available in a set on ebay.  They have picture clues and plenty of repetition.  These books are building confidence in both boys.

Hunter gets plenty of practice with spelling by typing in key words into Google or YouTube.  He loves Lego stop-motion videos.  He just started making his own too, and can navigate the software like a pro.

Screen shot of Teach Me Kindergarten

Both boys like doing “school work” on the iPod.  Chandler recently finished Teach Me Kindergarten, and Hunter did Teach Me First Grade as a review.  Chandler is done with kindergarten and close on his brother’s heels.

This fall we worked in the Explode the Code workbooks which Chandler loves, but Hunter complained often about the required writing.  Sometimes I would do the writing for him, since he can write legibly, and because the goal is reading, not writing.  I do believe other things like spelling and writing WILL come later.  Once the boys see more patterns in words, then spelling will be easier.

A good change for Hunter was to start using Explode the Code Online. Now he is flying through the lessons without complaint!  He completed Book 1 in about two weeks.  He needed the extra practice with short vowel sounds like short E and short I.  I really like the computer program since it is covering all the skills for reading and spelling, and it will repeat lessons when needed.

What I don’t like is some of the new picture clues are hard to decipher, even for me.  So when it asks you to click on the picture that starts with the short E sound, you have to figure out what the picture IS then click on it.  If you could hover and have it say the word, then there would be fewer mistakes.  One of the pictures for a short E word was a drawing of a man crawling out of a window with bars on it, like an old style jail.  The word was “escape” and even I didn’t get it at first.  So that “assessment” then places you in the correct lessons, but some of the misses were from not knowing the name of the picture.

Like I said, Hunter needed the extra practice with easy vowel sounds, but another child might be really frustrated to have to do those easier lessons.  The parent or teacher can set the lessons to any level, but I also feel some skills might be missed this way.  Their program needs some updates.

Also, the program times the child on how long it takes to do a lesson and then gives a paper airplane, butterfly, or ladybug according to how long it took but not necessarily the number of misses.  The bees are for too many misses.  So if a child is goofing around or fidgeting, or talking to someone else, their “scores” will be lower.  It is important to pause the program when the child takes breaks.  We did not have this issue in Headsprout.

These are my only two complaints about the program.  Otherwise, Hunter is flying through 10 lessons a day.  To give him incentive to do his best I told him that he needs to get 10 butterflies or paper airplanes per day.  If he gets ladybugs or bees, he needs to do more lessons. Now he pays more attention.

I often think about life skills for our children.   They each have very different interests.  One boy likes books, the other likes audio books.  One likes to build, the other likes to play school.  My job is to give them wings.

With all that is happening in our lives, “courage” will be our motto for 2012.

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One comment on “Exploding the Code

  1. Heather
    December 28, 2011

    Hi, my name is Heather! Please email me when you can, I have a question about your blog!

    HeatherVonSJ[at]gmail[dot]com

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This entry was posted on December 28, 2011 by in Books, Kindergarten, Language Arts, Learning, Progress, Reading Instruction, Reviews, Second Grade.

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