While the SOR research confirms that systematic and explicit phonics instruction is beneficial for all learners, that is only one component of becoming a proficient reader. A deeper dive into the research will illuminate the multi-faceted components that work together to develop reading skills. The literature and interpretation of its findings do have a strong emphasis on the importance of teaching phonics, because without building that solid foundation first, other reading skills of fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary are much harder to acquire.
Phonics Shed provides opportunities for children to build strong foundational phonics skills and also incorporates other critical components, such as comprehension, vocabulary, and spelling, to help become more proficient readers. This program was designed to be a stand-alone curriculum for effective and engaging phonics instruction and practice.
The Core Curriculum includes original stories and rich texts with robust vocabulary. There are also comprehension questions at the end of every story and decodable book. Encoding is included in daily lessons and the additional Spelling Shed component allows children to dive deeper into encoding/spelling practice that is aligned with the phonics curriculum.
The curriculum aligns with Science of Reading research and enables children to become fluent readers and writers. The program is designed to run from Pre-K to 2nd grade, but it can extend into upper grades as well, to help fill gaps for those children who need further support in phonics. The Phonics Shed Core program is available with both physical and digital resources, or we also provide a digital-only version.
Phonics Shed Core builds phonemic and phonological awareness and provides strategies to decode words by teaching links between letters and the sounds they can represent; this is called Phoneme-Grapheme Correspondence. Even after the shift to decoding text occurs, intentional phonological awareness activities continue to weave throughout the lessons in all the chapters.
Phonics Shed begins the journey into fluent reading and writing by laying down a strong foundation of pre-reading and listening skills. Children are taught to explore, identify, and distinguish sounds, strengthening phonological awareness skills. The curriculum progresses to more structured (phonological) blending and segmenting strategies that are used to teach children to recognize and work with sounds in spoken language. Children are taught to blend sounds together to make words by using the 'Sound it, Squash it, Say it' technique. Reversley, they are taught to segment words into sounds by using the 'Say it, Stretch it, Sound it' method. Phonics Shed aligns with the existing Spelling Shed program to ensure a smooth transition between decoding and encoding.
Phonics Shed's fast-paced progression includes flexible planning that is easily adapted to a slower pace if needed, to support individual needs. There are additional targeted intervention lesson plans to help close the gaps and support struggling learners.
Phonics Shed also aims to foster a love of reading and writing through its strong, character-based, and original narratives and with engaging, multi-sensory activities. Joe is the first character the children will meet, and he is a key figure throughout the progression who acts as a guide from the very beginning, right through to the later chapters.
Throughout Chapters 2-4, there are 110 phoneme-grapheme correspondences (including upper and lowercase letters, double letters, digraphs/trigraphs, and more advanced phonemic patterns) covered in the progression, each having a unique character linked to it. Additionally, the characters have their own supporting stories, decodable readers, songs, and associated actions (physical movements) to aid with consolidation.
The 26 letters of the alphabet have upper and lowercase characters, each with an easy-to-follow letter formation rhyme to support the children's writing. The same characters are referenced throughout the curriculum and are known as 'special friends' to the digraph and trigraph characters. They appear on most of the digraph/trigraph flashcards, and often in their stories, to support consistent letter formation and to reinforce that they sometimes work together to help to represent certain sounds.
Chapter 4 covers more advanced phonemic patterns and alternative graphemes for known phonemes.