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Dyslexia Specialists Since 1993

Why teach to read with Phonics?

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, 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 teachers may have 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. Children are taught to blend and segment each sound in the word. When blending the sounds together, the reader 'synthesizes' the sounds into a word. Following the Jim Rose report, this method is now recommended by the DCSF.

What is blending and segmenting?

Blending is pushing the sounds together into a word. E.g.: 'c' 'a' 't' 'cat'. This is the underlying skill of reading.

Segmenting is isolating the sounds in a word. E.g.: 'c' 'a' 't' are the sounds in the word 'cat'. This is the underlying skill of reading and spelling.

What are decodable books?

Decodable books have texts, which the pupil 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, not 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) words and the consonant digraphs (ch, sh, th, ck, ng and qu). The Initial Phonic Code is taught in Units 1-20 in the Dandelion Readers Series. The Dandelion Launchers Series teaches the first part of the Initial Phonic Code: the sounds of the alphabet.

The Extended Phonic Code includes the vowel and consonant sounds which are represented by alternative spellings. E.g.: ai, ay, a, ea, a-e etc. all spell the sound 'ae'. In our books, the Extended Phonic Code is taught in Levels 1, 2 and 3 in the Dandelion Readers Series and for older readers, in the Talisman Series.

How do the books fit in with the Phonics Programme in my school? 

In general, our Dandelion Launchers, Readers and the Talisman Series can be used with any phonics programme a school is using. Every programme introduces the sounds in a slightly different order.  

Our phonic book sets follow the Sounds Write Reading and Spelling programme. Each book lists what the pupil needs to know before reading. The sounds introduced at each level (unit) are listed on the back of the books. If the order of the introduction of sounds is different, delay the reading by a few weeks until the pupil has covered the sounds. The phonic progression is shown in the back of the books.

Dandelion Launchers are an ideal resource for Phase 2 of the 'Letters and Sounds' programme. The sounds are introduced in a slightly different order. Delay the reading by a few weeks and soon you will have independent readers in your class! Dandelion Readers cover Phases 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the 'Letters and Sounds' programme. The main difference is that, like other programmes, the books introduce adjacent consonants (vcc, cvcc, ccvc, ccvcc) before the introduction of vowel digraphs. If you are teaching 'Letters and Sounds', you can use the books in Level 1 (which teach the vowel digraphs) before you use the books in units 8, 9 and 10 (which teach adjacent consonants). 

Talisman Series are books for older readers at Phase 5 of 'Letters and Sounds'. To see how all the books fit with the 'Letters and Sounds' programme see the table at bottom of article.

For what age group are the books suitable?

Dandelion Launchers are suitable for Foundation Stage. They will be used in some nursery schools and in Year Reception (P1).

Dandelion Readers are suitable for Years Reception, 1, 2 and 3, depending on the progress of the pupil (P1, P2, P3, P4).

The Talisman series is suitable for older readers aged 8-14.

How do the books fit in with 'Letters and Sounds' ?

This phonic Books series follows the same Synthetic Phonics principles as the 'Letters and Sounds' programme. They are approved and listed on the Phonics Standards DCSF website. See table at bottom of article.

How do Dandelion Launchers fit with Dandelion Readers? 

Dandelion Launchers follow the same progression as the first 7 units of the Dandelion Readers. They can be used for very young readers or for readers who need lots of practice at the first stages of reading.  

For this reason, there is one line of text on each page. The progression in Dandelion Readers is faster. From unit 3 there is more text on each page - two or more lines. You can use both series together by separating them into units. 

Workbooks complement the readers. They are photocopiable programmes of work for pupils who need further practice in blending, segmenting, spelling and reading comprehension.

How do the books fit in with book banding?

Book Banding relates to length of sentence and number of lines in the text, and initially the repetition of target words being taught.  The books according to these criteria, for those schools that like to have their books banded. 

How the books fit in with "Letters and Sounds"

Letters & Sounds Phase Phonic Books Set Set Contents
Phase 2 Dandelion Launchers Units 1-7 introduce the sounds of the alphabet at CVC level.
Phase 2 Dandelion Readers Units 1-10 introduce the sounds of the alphabet in the same progression as the "launchers" but with more text. Units 8-10 introduce adjacent conconsants.
Phases 3 and 4 Dandelion Readers Units 11-20

Introduce consonant

digraphs: ch, sh, th, ck, ng, wh, and 2-syllable words.

Phase 3

Dandelion Readers Level 1 introduce one alternative spelling of vowel sounds
Phase 5 Dandelion Readers Levels 2 & 3 introduce alternative spellings of vowel sounds.
Phase 5 Talisman Series for older readers; introduces alternative spellings of vowel sounds.