BIG NEWS for Word Detective resources

The Word Detective range of resources is being redeveloped and a new range of resources will be published over 2021 and 2022 under the Code-Ed brand. Go to to see samples of new resources as they become available.

Some out-of-stock items on this website are available from the Kohia Centre –

Word Detective

In 1996 Joy Allcock began a Master of Education degree with the intention of finding answers to these questions:

  • How do children learn to read and spell?

  • Do we learn to spell the same way we learn to read?

  • Why are some people good readers but inaccurate spellers?

  • Why do some children learn to read and spell easily but others struggle, despite their obvious intelligence?

  • Are there better ways to teach spelling than giving students lists of words to learn?

Learning to read and write English is a complex process and children do not become good readers and writers simply through exposure to print.   They have to learn how the English language works.   Joy’s experiences over the last 20 years have led her to believe that it is possible to help children who currently struggle to successfully acquire literacy skills, by improving the way we teach them understand and access the alphabetic code.

We know that children learn best from the ‘known’ to the ‘unknown’.   Teaching children to use their spoken vocabularies (the ‘known’) to understand how sounds make up words and how letters represent sounds (the ‘unknown’) is the best way to teach them to master the code of written English – working from words to sounds to print.
Click here to download the article that discusses this process  From Language to Literacy  and watch the video below that explains it.

This approach was used in a project at Titahi Bay School between 2010 and 2012 with dramatic results.  Hear about the effects of teaching this way from Kerry Delaney, principal of Titahi Bay School and Sharon Thompson, a teacher who took part in trialling this approach at Titahi Bay School .

In 2017 the Porirua City Council made a video to share the impact of the Shine Literacy Project on schools taking part in Porirua City.

You can read about the success of the Shine Literacy Project here.
Shine Project Report Nov 2016