Manipulative based reading systems are fun, stimulate the senses, and are an excellent resource to accompany almost any reading program. Learning Resources has created a complete reading system with their manipulative based phonics products. We don't actually use their system, but I was pleasantly surprised when I received their Foundations Readers Deluxe Set. The readers are simple first grade level, but are unique to many of the other phonics type readers I have seen.
In the 16 books, many consonant blends, as well as vowel sounds are covered.
The best thing about these readers is that they come with one reader for each vowel sound. These are not just the short vowel sounds; the long vowel sounds are also included. The Long E book has many words that say the long E vowel, but are spelled in several different ways; words like tea, bee, cookie, etc. Bee is actually having a tea party!
These books are so sweet. Mary Spann, the author, has really done an excellent job creating wholesome and interesting phonics based readers. These are so much better than "Matt the Rat" kind of stuff. If your child is not ready to read yet, these make great read-alouds for developing phonemic awareness. "On his big day in May, Jake went to the Lake. He sat in the shade but could not stay awake." That is a little taste of how cute these are.
In the back of each reader are at least three pages of word building activities that progress in difficulty for giving tactile reinforcement to each lesson. These readers come with a bucket of 109 word-building rods. The rods have single and multi-letter phonograms and also consonant blends for building a ton of words. These rods are not limited to the early reader only. You can have a fun game with a more advanced type reader as well. These are great for my "boys" who have to get their HANDS on any thing we are learning.