Explode the Code
i've use all of the explode the code books with my daughter (get ready, get set, go for the code & books 1-8). the only ones we didn't get into were the beyond books. we never bought the 1/2 books or the teacher manuals. i felt they were self explanatory, and i saw no need for the TM's or 1/2 books. at the end of each book there is a test that would require the TM, but otherwise we used them successfully without any other resources. we never did the test, as i knew whether not my child had retained the information. if you do buy a TM, i would invest in one only (buy used at amazon or homeschool classifieds). once you get moving with the program though, i imagine you'll get a good feel for it & won't need the TM either.
Their online program looks intriguing, but $65? wow.
Here's what you need to do to buy a cheap one year's subscription to Explode the Code online: go sign up at the Homeschool Buyer's Coop and you can get it through them for $35! I found this out when I called Explode the Code to see if they had a homeschooling discount; they referred me to this online co-op. I read the small print pretty carefully and there appears to be no catch and no obligation to buy anything. We've been "members" for almost a month now and so far so good (meaning, there haven't been any weird charges to my credit card or anything!). The only thing to know is that you sign up for a year's subscription, but the 'year' actually started when the co-op bought all the licenses (which was mid-March).
Anyhow, I decided to try ETC because my ds1 was getting really lazy with his reading (guessing when he should've been sounding out unfamiliar words). Even though he's reading pretty well these days (Easy Reader 2-3ish) I honestly think the ETC first level has been good for him. He's gone through the first level really fast, but I feel like it's been a good review of the basic vowel sounds. I think he'd almost lost sight of the fact that say, the 'a' in 'cat' actually has a sound associated with it! Anyhow, Ds likes to do activities on the computer so he doesn't at all mind doing a few units of ETC every day.
Oh, and the other good thing about this program is that ds can do it by himself! Very helpful for when you're trying to work with multiple kids at the same time.
We've used ETC from ABC all the way up to 8. We are on the last book 8 this month. The only time we used a 1/2 book was for Book 4, which covered multiple syllable words which intimidated my 5-year old at the time. We came back to the 4 1/2 book after book 6 and it was much easier to tackle then.
Do you have a phonics program? Most people don't use ETC as a main program. They use some sort of phonics reading program and use ETC as review/reinforcement. You don't need the teacher's guides. I got them and never use them. However, if you did use ETC as a stand-alone program, you'd probably get more use out of them. I haven't seen a need to use them since we use other programs for phonics/spelling, but they do look like they have a few helpful tips inside.
No, we don't have any sort of other "program," which makes me giggle a bit because we don't have any sort of "program" for anything. This will be our first structured anything.