Institute of Reading Development
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Phonics and Word-Attack Skills

Phonics instruction teaches children the relationship between letters and the sounds that they stand for. For example, the letter m stands for the sound /m/ we hear at the beginning of the word mouse. (A letter between two slashes indicates the sound that letter stands for). In kindergarten and first grade, children learn to sound out simple words using phonics. As children progress in their reading development, they encounter increasingly challenging words that require more advanced phonics skills. For example, they must learn that the long a sound /ā/ can be written with the letters ai, as in snail, and with the letters ay, as in tray.

Children also need to develop other word-attack skills and strategies to read longer and more difficult words. In particular, they must learn how to work with contractions and compound words and how to divide long words into smaller word parts, such as syllables and common prefixes and suffixes. For example, basket can be divided into two syllables, bas•ket; darkness is made up of dark and the suffix -ness.

In order to become successful readers, children must develop skill, confidence and experience with these phonics and word-attack skills. This reading program teaches these skills through in-class activities and home practice in a phonics workbook.

Workbook and Audio Program

Students receive a phonics and word-attack workbook called Pole and Vole and the Quest for the Book of Language, which features an engaging adventure story with interesting characters and delightful illustrations. This workbook and its three accompanying CDs contain phonics and word-attack instruction appropriate for second graders. What makes this phonics program both unique and effective is the inclusion of a story line with connected text that incorporates the same phonics and word-attack elements the children are learning about in the skills portion of the workbook.

Each week, students complete a two-to-four-page phonics unit. The teacher begins each unit in class, and then provides step-by-step directions about which CD tracks students should listen to and which pages to complete at home. During the course, students complete the first sixteen pages of Pole and Vole and the Quest for the Book of Language. After the program ends, they continue to work through the workbook until it is completed.


Reading opens up new worlds of thought and feeling.