Phonics spine: I first tried using The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading (OPGTR), but it was much too scripted for me. If you want to have everything laid out for you, including what to say, then you should really look at this book. However, I found Phonics Pathways (PP) to be a much better fit for my teaching style. The beauty of PP is in its simplicity. PP is comprised of lists of words that your child should read through and it has very little handholding for the parent. There is also a companion book, Reading Pathways, that has exercises meant to improve reading fluency. I do have this book, but we have not used it much yet.
Phonics review: I tried the Explode the Code series (ETC) first. Most people love these books, but it was too much repetition for my dd. In addition, these books are in black and white while my dd prefers color. So, we have settled on the MCP Plaid Phonics for review type activities. You can see that every page is in glorious color and I can simply remove a few pages from the workbook for my dd.
Phonics readers: This is one area that I may never be fully satisfied. I have BOB books as well as some MCP readers. I like the BOB books since the story line is relatively short and they are not completely silly. My dd enjoys the MCP readers since they are in color, but she sometimes get frustrated with how long they can be. We generally alternate reading sentences with the MCP readers whereas my dd can read an entire BOB book herself. I also tried the McGuffey Eclectic primer, but my dd was not thrilled in the least with this book (I think I may introduce these again later).
For fun: Talking Fingers Read, Write, and Type! I picked up this software from the Rainbow Resource bargain books section after it was recommended on the WTM forums by someone that knows phonics inside and out. My dd loves the fact that she is learning to type and this program is silly enough to appeal to small children. The program is set up to be a game where your child earns back the letters on the keyboard by typing words and identifying sounds correctly. A bit difficult to explain, but there is a demo available online if you would like to try it out.
Our schedule: Typically, I write about 6-10 words on a white board from our phonics spine. Whenever there is a new rule to introduce I try to do that first and then I help my dd sound out any words that use the new rule. Each lesson also includes a few review words which we usually do towards the end when my dd is getting tired of sounding out words. One lesson usually takes about 10 minutes and we do this every Monday through Thursday after our morning chores.
We also practice reading from our phonics readers once a day. I let my dd choose the story and also how many stories she would like to read. Some days we barely make it through one story and other days she wants to read several books. If I know that her enthusiasm for reading is low that day, then I will steer her towards reading a BOB book since they are shorter.
I also give my dd maybe 3 review sheets a week that she can do at her leisure. She is also allowed to play the Read, Write, and Type! game in the evening. I read somewhere that it is suggested that she play the game at least 3 times a week, but we haven’t done nearly that much lately.