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Explode the Code Reviews

This phonics based reading program for grades 1-4 has two components, one based on workbooks and the other, online. The book based instruction has workbooks, study guides, and other supporting materials. The online component is a multi-sensory phonic program, based on the latest literacy research. The online materials provide immediate feedback to students as they work through the program. The workbook program materials range in cost from $under $10 for individual components to over $70 for the teachers guide.

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(15 Reviews)

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  1. Explode the Code Review by Melany Nance
    Pros: Inexpensive, syllable separation, vowels, etc.
    Cons: Only goes to third grade. Tests in the back of the book doesn’t have the questions needed or the answers, you have to buy the teachers edition

    Grades Used: Books 1-8

    This has been really great for my son in learning how the words/syllables are put together. Critically thinking in the sense of correct spelling for words that are similar, real life or fantasy, etc. Some pictures are hard to make out what it is, but there is always a picture before or after that page or pages to help give you clues as to what is. What I really like for my son’s sake is that the ideas are silly and fun, for example: can a wagon hitch a ride on a duck’s head? The vocabulary is spot on, a few words here and there that are slightly harder but the pictures can help your little one figure it out and if they don’t (very rare) you help a little. For the most part, the kids do ALL the work by themselves!!! One full page of work 3x a week. They also have an online version.

    Each book is approx. $7.80 each through
    Books A,B,C are for Pre-K – K
    Books 1,2,3 are for 1st grade
    Books 4,5,6 are for 2nd grade
    Books 7,8 are for 3rd grade

  2. Explode the Code Review by Natalie
    Pros: Inexpensive, variety of activities, no prep
    Cons: Pages tear easily (when erasing)

    Grades Used: K

    I used the Primer series (Get Ready, Set, Go…for the Code: A, B, C). My K student was struggling to remember letter names & sounds, and this was a great phonics supplement to our main program. There was a lot of handwriting practice, sometimes we skipped some. I thought the teacher’s manual for this level was geared more towards group/classroom use and did not use it at all. I plan to order again for my next K student.

  3. Explode the Code Review by Diane Mahon
    Pros: Great independent work
    Cons: Can't think of one

    Grades Used: 3 and 5

    These books are cute and fun and I use them as reinforcement now that my 2 older kids are beyond phonics programs but have some learning difficulties. My 3rd grader is significantly delayed in reading and writing, yet is eager to complete his lesson each day. There is enough reading and writing that we both feel like he really accomplished something when he’s done. My 5th grader has benefitted from the review and it has increased her vocabulary and even some critical thinking is needed for parts of the lessons. We love these books!!

  4. Explode the Code Review by Tawnee
    Pros: Easy to use
    Cons: Some pictures are questionable

    Grades Used: books 1 and 2

    We started using ETC after looking at it at a convention. The 1st book was difficult for my daughter in that she didn’t like all the writing and repetitiveness. The lessons seemed too long and we had to bread them into 2 lessons to get through them but she was definitely learning something so we pressed on.

    Some of the pictures were questionable. In fact, I had trouble at times deciphering what the picture was suppose to be but we would just skip it or decided what it was together and go with it. This bothered me in the beginning but we got over it.

    I didn’t feel we needed additional practice with book 1 so we moved onto book 2 and now, it seems, she likes ETC. Now that she understand the directions, and is more comfortable with her reading, she says its one of her favorites.

    We don’t do a lot of busiwork/workbooks but it is a good supplement or something different and excellent for when we need independent work time. I think they are good books.

  5. Explode the Code Review by Jill
    Pros: simple, easy to use, inexpensive
    Cons: little or no color

    Grades Used: 1-2

    One of our children was a struggling learner. Phonics was frustrating. I found Explode the Code and LOVED it! Our son finally could do his school work without tears or frustration. Explode the Code’s approach is very easy and repetative, just what our struggling learner needed.
    I only used the workbooks and used them as a supplement to our other phonics program.
    I also only used this with one of our children because he needed the extra help and repetition. I’m not sure our other children, who found learning easier, would have benefited from this program.

    Recommend for struggling learner.

  6. Explode the Code Review by Tenessa Porterfield
    Pros: Easy, sequential, inexpensive, fun
    Cons: The pictures can be difficult to make heads or tails of.

    Grades Used: 1 and 1.5

    These workbooks are fun and easy to do. They gradually increase in level while continuing to reinforce things already learned.

  7. Explode the Code Review by Andrea
    Pros: inexpensive, easy to use
    Grades Used: 1st

    This is a great supplement to any phonics program. Good if you want your child to have a little independent work.

  8. Explode the Code Review by Sally
    Pros: precept upon precept, engaging

    I’m not sure where I discovered these but really do love them. Just enough bookwork without becoming tedious and love the variety of teaching the same concept. Will definitely be using them again.

  9. Explode the Code Review by jennifer
    Pros: very sequential and effective
    Cons: not so great pictures

    Grades Used: K-2

    We have used this for 3 kids now and I will continue with our 4th child as well.

  10. Explode the Code Review by Cheri Burt
    Pros: Easy; Inexpensive
    Cons: May need teacher's guide

    Grades Used: Variety

    I used this series with my oldest without teacher’s guides and every so often I didn’t know what a picture was or exactly what they were learning. It went much easier for me once I got the guides and of course they can be reused with all my other children.

    My oldest breezed right through these books and learn to read easily. I loved hearing her sound out the words and the smile on her face as she felt she was accomplishing something.

    My next two (1st & 2nd) are on Book 2 and moving a little more slowly. Some days they complete 2 pages and some days just 1 page. They are struggling a little more than my oldest so we are getting extra practice by using the 1/2 books. Even though they may still struggle through a easy reader book, they are successful with ETC sentences.

  11. Explode the Code Review by Jane
    Pros: easy to use, inexpensive
    Grades Used: K

    We used this for phonics & handwriting since there was alot of writing required. It was simple and easy to teach. There was enough practice for each new sound.

  12. Explode the Code Review by Holly Pixley
    Pros: Simple, Easy to Use
    Cons: Lots of Writng

    Grades Used: Pre-K - 1

    My son loves these workbooks. He is 4 1/2 and we started with book 1. We have now finished book 3 and he is reading every word he sees. The sounds are presented in a logical manner. We do not attempt more than a couple of pages a day, so it takes us a few days to finish up one lesson.

    The only draw back is it contains a lot of writing practice. Which was overwhelming to him at the beginning. He was just learning to write letters, and wanted to write all of the words. Now that he can write well, (we used Handwriting Without Tears) he completes the pages easier.

    We also use the online version of Explode the Code. I assign him review lessons and he loves the variety it offers. He doesn’t have the mousing skill to click and drag, so I sit with him to avoid frustration.

  13. Explode the Code Review by Bobbi Harwood
    Pros: Easy, repetitive
    Grades Used: pre-K-3rd+

    My kids have used the Explode the Code series since the beginning (pre-K and K). It’s been a great phonics introduction, and as they moved through the books, it introduced more advanced concepts in easy to follow methods. There is a lot of repetition, so the kids remembered it. As they got older (1st-2nd), it was very simple for them to do most of the pages on their own. They would even ASK to do the work.

    Last year, I discovered Explode the Code Online (through Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op online). We LOVE it. I use it to supplement the workbooks in a fun, interactive way. I can set the levels they must achieve and when they do it, they get rewarded with a “FUN” Button that takes them to online games.

  14. Explode the Code Review by Janelle Wright
    Pros: Easy and inexpensive

    Grades Used: books 1-3

    Easy to use. Effective. Repetitive enough to learn, but not enough to get monotonous. Separates the sounds, which is very important for a dyslexic child. Easy enough for my child to use it on his own. Love it.

  15. Explode the Code Review by Melinda Curtis
    Pros: Easy
    Cons: Some of the sentences don't make sense or use out of date language that my kids don't understand.

    Grades Used: Preschool thru book 2.5

    I really love Explode the Code. It is very easy and has cute pictures. The only draw back is it has some really strange question to answer that don’t really make a whole lot of sense. These strange questions are only on a few pages so I can overlook it.

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