Frequently Asked Questions

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, the 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 children were 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 and then blend or ‘synthesize’ the sounds together into a word.

Children are taught to blend and segment each sound in the word.

What is blending and segmenting?

Blending is pushing the sounds together into a word. E.g.: ‘c’ ‘a’ ‘t’ ‘cat’. This is an underlying skill for reading.

Segmenting is isolating the sounds in a word. E.g.: ‘c’ ‘a’ ‘t’ are the sounds in the word ‘cat’. This is an underlying skill for reading and spelling.

Our books are decodable. 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 rather than 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), adjacent consonants in 4 and 5 sound words (e.g. ‘land’, ‘from’, ‘blend’) and the consonant digraphs (ch, sh, th, ck, ng and qu). The Initial Phonic Code is taught in Units 1-15 in the Dandelion Launchers Series and in Units 1-20 in the Dandelion Readers Series.

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, 3 & 4 and the Split Vowel Spelling Books in the Dandelion Readers Series and for older readers in the Alba, Totem, Rescue, Titan, Talisman 1 & Talisman 2 Series.

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

In general, our books can be used with any phonics programme a school is using. Every programme introduces the sounds in a slightly different order. Our books follow the Sounds-Write Reading and Spelling programme. Each of our books lists what the pupil needs to know before reading.

If the order of the introduction of sounds is different, delay the reading by a few weeks until the pupil has covered the sounds. To check the phonic progression, see the back of the books or ‘Phonic Progression Chart‘.

How do the books fit in with ‘Letters and Sounds’?

Our books follow the same Synthetic Phonics principles as the ‘Letters and Sounds’ programme, although the order of introduction of sounds may be slightly different. Once the teacher has taught the sounds in the books, the children can read them independently.

Dandelion Launchers are books for beginner readers. They are an ideal resource for Phases 2, 3 and 4 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, our books introduce adjacent consonants (vcc, cvcc, ccvc, ccvcc) before we introduce the vowel digraphs. If you are teaching ‘Letters and Sounds’, you can use our Level 1 books (which teach the vowel digraphs) before you use the books in units 8, 9 and 10 (which teach adjacent consonants).

Catch-up Series

The Moon Dog Series are an ideal resource for older, absolute beginner readers (phases 2, 3 and 4 of ‘Letters and Sounds’.

The Magic Belt Series is aimed at readers at CVC level (phases 2,3 & 4 of Letters and Sounds’)

Totem and Alba Series are for readers with gaps in their phonic knowledge. The series starts at CVC word level and quickly revises and consolidates the essential phonics that a catch-up reader needs to secure. It includes adjacent consonants, consonant digraphs and some alternative spellings for vowel sounds (Phases 2, 3, 4 and 5 of ‘Letters and Sounds’).

Talisman Series 1 continues from the Totem Series with further alternative spellings for vowel and consonant sounds and suffixes e.g. ‘tion’ (Phases 5 and 6 of’ Letters and Sounds’).
The Rescue Series covers the same phonic progression as Talisman 1.

The Titan’s Gauntlets introduce alternative vowel and consonant spellings and common Latin suffixes (Phases 6 of ‘Letters and Sounds’).

The Talisman 2 series includes more additional alternative spellings and more text per page (Phases 6 of ‘Letters and Sounds).

For what age group are the books suitable?

The Tell A Story Series is suitable for nursery and reception. Dandelion Launchers are suitable for foundation stage. They will be used in some nursery schools and in Reception classes.

Dandelion Readers are suitable for Reception classes, years 1, 2 and 3, depending on the progress of the pupil.

All of our Catch-Up Series are suitable for older, reluctant readers aged 8-14 +.

How do Dandelion Launchers fit with Dandelion Readers?

Dandelion Launchers are for beginner readers or young readers who need lots of practice at the early stages of reading. For this reason there is just one line of text on each page and there are four books are each level.

Dandelion Readers can be used as additional reading material for young readers or for younger catch-up readers. There are three parallel sets available. Our Dandelion Readers range progresses at a faster pace than our Dandelion Launcher range. From Unit 3 there is more text on each page – two or more lines. As the phonic progression and level (unit) structure is the same, you can use both series together by splitting them up according to units.

Who are the workbooks for?

Workbooks complement our books. They are photocopiable programmes of work for pupils who need further practice in blending, segmenting, spelling and reading comprehension. They can be used in mainstream class settings, for group work or individual tuition.

How do I use the workbooks?

The workbooks are linked to the stories in the books making the activities relevant and contextual. Some activities should be introduced before reading the books and others, such as comprehension, should be introduced after reading the books.

A short explanation on each page explains when and how to introduce the activity.