Thursday, December 6, 2012

Grade Levels in The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading

Earlier this year (these books did not come with what I got.)
Earlier this year (this book came with level 2.)

We are very happy with our reading curriculum, The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading by Jessie Wise and Sara Buffington. It can be all you need to teach someone to read from the very beginning with letter sounds to multi-syllable words at the fourth grade level. The grade levels, however, are not indicated in the book. It focuses on ability level, not comparing to public school standards. But it still would be nice to know what level your child is on. (If you know of a website the give an assessment test for free, please post a comment so I can share.)

I got all levels of Hooked on Phonics Deluxe version (the "old" 5 level version) at a yard sale a few years ago for only $25! I didn't use it as my primary teaching tool for Builder Boy, but it was good to have the leveled, phonic based readers for him to read and practice with. Using the HOP workbooks as a guide, I wrote down all the blends and teams from OPGTR (up to lesson 134) and HOP (all 5 of the 'old' levels) and synced them like I did with the K level OPGTR, HOP, and Bob Books.

Here is what I came up with, and what I think is a good guide of what grade levels the first 15 out of 25 sections (134/231 lessons) of The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading are.

Kindergarten: HOP K level covers CVC words and a few sight words. That's OPG up to lesson 40 (sections 1-3.)

First grade: HOP Levels 2 & 3 (orange and red) are suppose to be 1st grade. Both deal mostly with consonant blends and some digraphs, OPG  lessons 41-63 (sections 4 & 5.)

Level 2 covers the beginning blends (lessons 50-52, section 4) and some of the Consonant Digraphs found in section 5 of OPGTR.

Level 3 covers the ending blends (lessons 41-48, section 4.)

Second Grade: HOP Levels 4 & 5 (green and blue) are suppose to be 2nd grade. This is where things get more complicated.

Level 4 covers:
  • Long Vowel, Silent-E words (OPGTR section 7) 
  • some of the Common Spellings for long vowel sounds A, E, I, and O (sections 9-12)
  • Y=/e/ (lesson 200, section 20)
  • the basic R-Changed Vowels (section 16)
  • -all (lesson 118, section 13)
Level 4 covers R-changed vowels, which is started in lesson 154 of OPG (section 16), but they don't cover most of OPG's section 15 (Silent letters.) HOP also introduces compound words in level 4, when OPG doesn't until Section 17.

Level 5 covers:
  • some of the Common Spellings for the Other Vowel Sounds (OPGTR section 13)
  • igh=/i/ (lesson 134, section 15)
  • shr (lesson 55, section 5)
  • str, scr, spr, spl (lesson 63 and 64, section 6)
  • squ (lesson 53, section 4)
  • kn, wr (lessons 146 and 154, section 15)
  • soft c, soft g (lessons 77-79, section 7)

Level 5 mostly covers some common spellings for vowel sounds and then skips around in a seemingly random fashion (or at least in a pattern I personally am unable to decipher) adding a few more letter combinations to finish out the program. 

Gaps in HOP that OPGTR cover: HOP Level 4 skips Long Vowel U with the Silent-E (section 7) and teaches short words with long vowels (like be, so, etc.) as sight words through out the levels with no explanation. Only a few of the Common Spellings for Long Vowel sounds A, E, I, and O (sections 9-11) are covered, while U (section 12) is ignored.Common Spellings for Other Vowel Sounds are only about half covered (section 13.) Other Spellings for Short-Vowel Sounds (section 14) is completely ignored, and only 3 out of 20 of the Silent Letters (section 15) are taught.

I would consider anything in OPG Lesson 134 (section 15) and up to be 3rd and 4th grade.

Overall I consider OPGTR to be much more thorough and a better foundation for further reading than HOP. It also explains the rules and the whys of reading, where the HOP workbooks merely present the sound and the words that use it. In my option HOP is much more suited as a supplement to children attending a brick and mortar school rather than a stand alone program. This only applies to the "old" version. I do not know what changes they have made in their "new" books. (If you do have the "new" version and would like to share your experience with it, please comment. I would love to hear about it.)

For a more precise comparison please refer to the chart below. 

*The below chart is missing the red level comparison. The chart will be downloadable once I find the red level workbook and input the data.*


Level 2 (orange)

Level 4 (green)

Level 5 (blue)
ch 57
a_e 65, 66
oy=/oi/ 122
th, th 59, 60
i_e 69
oi=/oi/ 123
sh 55, 56
o_e 71
ou=/ou/ 121
wh 61
u_e 74
ow=/ou/ 120
sm, sn, sp, sl, 51
e_e 67
au=/ô/ 117
sc, sk, sw, st

ee=/ē/ 89
aw=/ô/ 116
fl, gl, cl, bl, pl 50
ea=/ē/ 90
oo=/ōo/ 106
gr, fr, br, cr, pr,

ow=/ō/ 99
oo=/ŏo/ 113
dr, tr 52
oa=/ō/ 98
igh 134
qu 18 (Q)
ai=/ā/ 84

ay=/ā/ 86
shr 55
Level 3 (red)

y=/ī/ 95
str, scr, spr, 63, 64

y=/ē/ 200

ar 154, 156
squ 53

er 168
kn 154

ir 169
wr 146

ur 170
soft c, g 77-79

or, ore 157, 158

eer 175

ear 166

are 163, 164

air 165


The links above from Peace Hill Press and Hooked on Phonics are linked to those companies' pages;  the pictures are a link to the Amazon listings.

The Hooked on Phonics picture link is to what I purchased at the garage sale, not what is currently offered by HOP. I have no knowledge of their "new" sets, though I have heard that the concepts and levels are pretty much the same.

I don't get paid for my reviews, and all opinions and conclusions are my own.


  1. I actually ran into a problem with OPGTR. Monkey is one of those kids that HATES repetition. He doesn't practice anything if he can find a way out of it. We used OPGTR to lesson 45, and by the time we got there, Monkey had gone from begging me to teach him to read... to melting down and crying that he didn't want to read words. We wandered a little, BOB Books were uninteresting, Dr Seuss were too long for his attention span... Then we went to HOP. I picked up the new versions at our local bookstore, and started him at Grade 1, level 1, as that looked the most appropriate. That fits perfectly with your above estimation.

    Hooked on Phonics was a miracle for us. They came with DVDs, which were a big hit. Monkey can focus on a DVD for at least three times what he can sitting in a chair. He watches the lessons, and often will watch a full unit - and then ask for another. He still hates repetition and practice, but he's much more willing to cooperate if he can watch the DVDs (we put in the DVD, watch the part where it reviews the sound, then when it gets to the practice, I pause the DVD and he does a handful of each of the sounds presented). I strongly suspect that he's a much better reader than he lets on, but he would much rather run, play, or watch than he would read - so far, anyway.

    If it'd help, I'll do some screenshots and scans of the new DVDs and manual/workbooks and stuff, it's something I've meant to do anyhow. ^_^

    1. As long as that isn't a copyright infringement, I would be interested in seeing those. HOP is actually what I'm using with Early Bird. He seems to "get" words without learning the rule beyond what LeapFrog's Word Caper taught. Just having the lists of words to look at and read are enough for him.

      With Builder Boy we're at a point that he seems to already recognize and be able to read most of the past 20 lessons or so, but we keep going one lesson a day because I don't want to miss anything, and I want to make sure he knows the rule and isn't just memorizing by sight. We haven't been doing much review. If he knows it we read those words one more time at the beginning of the next lesson and move on.

      I am truly glad you found something that works for you. :) I know all kids are different and learn in different ways.

  2. This is exactly what I was looking for! My son has done great so far with OPGTR and was looking for readers to line up with the lessons. Thanks so much for sharing!

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