I have used this on three boys. I use it has a supplement to First Language Lessons, All About Spelling, and Christian Liberty Press Phonics A, B, & C. I think they get more out of it when I use the exercises in the Teacher's Guide, but I do not always get to them, and I do not do all of the TG exercises-- LOL ! Sometimes they finish three lessons and THEN we do a "crash course" of some the exercises from the Teacher's Guide as a sort of review, quiz, or "test". I only do this delay, because they finish faster than I have the time to do the lessons and I don't want them waiting on me. I have not used the second edition.
After trying a few different approaches to learning how to read...I decided to try this product. At first I was hesitant because it looked very poorly done...but after getting the books, and looking at them....having my son work with them....I LOVE them! Within 4 lessons he was reading! I highly recommend them!!
We started out Explode the Code with the books A, B and C. This was a great follow on to those books. If your child doesn't do well with recognizing the alphabet or pronouncing, I'd suggest starting with the A, B and C books. We did use this book at a kindergarten level, though the book does not make you feel it has to be attached to a specific grade. In book one vowels are introduced as well as learning to read and spell three letter words. There is a comprehension element to the book where the student looks at a picture and decides which sentence is describing the picture. There is also a "post-test" located at the back of the book.
We worked on 2 pages a day to keep a steady pace which would give about 47 days of work. We also used the 1 1/2 book following along side this book. (see that book for separate review)
I suggest this book for anyone who is homeschooling young ones, but also to anyone who has a child AT a school and needs some additional phonics assistance at home.
We do have the teacher guide to go with this (it is very inexpensive) however you can use this book totally independent. I would say the price is a little high because we would use Book 1 and 2 and the 1/2 books in one school year.
We do use other products to reinforce what is learned with the Explode the Code.
I have a "reluctant reader" who loves to be read to but is very resistant to learning how to read. This is the 3rd curriculum that we've tried w/ him this year, & we finally hit the jackpot! He LOVES this, & even asks to do this first before anything else! Awesome!!
I really like this book and am using it as a complement to The Ordinary Parents Guide to Reading. My only complaint would be that some of the pictures are somewhat vague looking but otherwise it gets the job done!