Pragmatic Mom

Phonics Workbooks

Supplemental Education Tools that Worked for Me — Phonics

There’s nothing like feeling like your child is falling behind to prompt a Pragmatic Mom to scramble for supplemental materials to catch her darling up.  Whether you feel your child is begging for phonics or you feel that your child needs a little boost to be where they should be, these phonics materials really work and come recommended by 3 mom friends who were also teachers.

But first, an aside.  As a new mom, I faced pressure from unnamed individuals who thought the pinnacle of mom-success was getting her toddler to read by age 3.  I could barely get through the day when my oldest was three, what with being pregnant and having a demanding toddler.  Needless to say, the oldest did not get hours of home tutorials in phonics and was sent off to kindergarten recognizing about four words including her name.  But, by December, she was reading and by June she was enjoying the joys of early chapter books (a.k..a Henry and Mudge).  

For the next child, I had my “sharp-as-a-tack” middle child doing daily packets in phonics for a year starting at age 3.  Low and behold, that child went to kindergarten not knowing how to read.  But by January, she was reading, and by the end of school, she too, was enjoying the adventures of Henry and Mudge

They both hit the same milestones at roughly the same point.  I did nothing, and I mean NOTHING, with the first.  I did a lot with the second.  If anything, the second’s literacy milestones was about a month behind her older sibling’s.  As I read articles, which I will try to hunt down and post, it became clear: children read when they are ready.  Just as early walkers do not necessarily become Olympic track stars, early readers do not have a leg up on the Verbal SAT.  So I say, relax and enjoy.  For my third who is a preschooler, no phonics home study is required but we do a lot snuggle time with books.

Pragmatic Mom thinks that you know your child best.  If you feel that some additional home study is needed, these are the materials that teachers use for their own kids. 

Literacy: Phonics

 Hands down, my favorite system is a workbook series called “Explode the Code.”  

It’s in black and white so it’s not pretty like some series, but it works because it breaks down each phonics lesson into segments.  This is the link for Book 1 which covers short vowel sounds.

Book 2 covered two letter sounds.

 I remember that at the end of first grade, my oldest child and I needed to master the concepts through the end of Book 3 which covered 3 letter sounds (like “thr”).

My oldest HATED to read aloud but it was the only way we could figure out if she was decoding the words correctly.  Her little sister was desperate to “read” but knew about five words.  This phonics system which I found online worked to solve both problems.  It’s a fun series of silly poems with words in different colors.  At first, your child only reads the red words.  As you progress through the books, old words are in red, new words in blue and black words are the words you read.  Each book goes through a series of phonics concepts.  When I used this series, the books were downloadable for free, but now there is a fee.  Beware that the books are in color and some are lengthy so you will use a decent amount of toner if you have a color printer and whole lot of paper!

My “reluctant-to-read-aloud” daughter also liked the “You Read to Me and I”ll Read to You” series of books.  You can get them at your local library or buy at .   The books are a series of short, silly poems with two parts to read; one for you to read and one for me to read. 

You Read to Me and I’ll Read to You

You Read to Me and I’ll Read to You: Very Short Scary Tales,  Very Short Fairy Tales to Read Together 


You Read to Me and I’ll Read to You:  Very Short Stories to Read Together

You Read to Me and I’ll Read to You: Very Short Fairy Tales


  1. Thanks for leaving your link and suggesting this post. Fabulous tools to have when helping your child read!

    Comment by Katie (aka Kekibird) — January 20, 2010 @ 6:03 pm | Reply

  2. Thanks for the links. Since I homeschool I had no clue. I had the girls to where they could read 3 letter words and knew all the sounds, but I couldn’t find any BOOKS for them to read. IT’s pretty boreing to just read lists of words…

    The best thing about the hooked on phonics is, all the extra books you get. I got a total of 50 with my set, each book on the correct level for the child to read a simple story. The plots are not exciting or elaborate in the first books, but the kids like them.

    The workbooks you suggest sound very good and might be an excellent source for additional practice.

    Comment by Allen a — January 31, 2010 @ 10:31 am | Reply

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