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Homeschooling the Middle & High School Years

Chaotic Bliss Homeschooling

Reading; Language Arts
Literature Study Guides Tags: progeny press book summaries book recommendations lesson plans

Free literature guides can be found at:

Glencoe Guides: Include background information on the novels and activity pages. 

Holt Guides: For middle and high school fiction, drama and poetry.

Shmoop: Offers complete analysis, including themes, plot, characters, etc. Has sections for questions, quizzes, and essay suggestions. Has a middle-school section.

The Best Notes: Analysis of literary elements; chapter summaries and notes; vocabulary, study questions, and essay and book report ideas.

Pink Monkey: Summaries and study guides.

Lit Lovers: Reading guides feature summaries, author bios, and review questions. There are also generic questions that can be used for any fiction or non-fiction books.

Generic Questions: For analyzing setting, plot, character, point of view, symbolism and theme.

Study Guides for Specific Books:

A Wrinkle in Time:

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

Crispin: The Cross of Lead

The Giver


The Hobbit

Uncle Tom's Cabin

The Scarlet Letter: Includes instructions for three activities: character log; discussion/debate; and final paper.  

The Lemonade War



The Color Purple

Treasure Island

Free Elementary Animal Science Readers Tags: reading comprehension science books science books for kids harcourt science non fiction books readers leveled readers

Click on the links below to download for free a variety of science books about animals for grades K - 5. The books are from 10 - 15 pages, with questions at the end.

Grade 1

A Frog's Life

Animals of the Forest

How Animals Survive

Grade 2

The Ant




The Prairie Dog

Prairie Babies

Watching Arctic Wolves

Grade 3

Amazing Animal Tales

Birds and Their Nests

Falcons in the Sky

Guide Dog School

Monkeys Making a Difference

Owl Life

Grade 4

The Animals of the La Brea Tarpits

Animals on the Move

Grade 5

The Gentle Lions of the Sea

Whales of the World

Have Fun with Phonics Tags: phonics

We sat on the couch together, my youngest child and I, and she told me she wanted to read to me. The book was Callie Cat, Ice Skater, which I had read to her several times, but she really liked it, so she wanted to hear it again. She started reading to me, and at some point, I realized a big grin had spread over my face. It had occurred to me that this was it, she was the last one; the last of my children was able to read. Sure, there were words she was stumbling over, and sounding out, but she was also commenting on the events of the story and the illustrations – she was enjoying reading! -- and the sound of her voice was like music to my ears.

After having gone through this experience with four children, I’m still amazed by the process. How had it happened? How had they learned? Like most parents, my husband and I had no special knowledge on how to teach a child to read. We did not strictly follow a particular curriculum or instructional method. Like other parents, we read to our children from the time they were babies, pointed to pictures in books and magazines, and talked to them about what we were looking at. We sang our ABCs, played with magnetic letters on the fridge, and letter blocks on the floorand played seemingly endless games for learning letter sounds. And it’s fascinating, because all those very informal "lessons" -- the listening to stories and playing -- somehow, gradually came together, and they just – started reading. We can no more take credit for that than we can for "teaching" them to speak.

That day, as I sat reading with my daughter, I was strangely moved – maybe a little sad and nostalgic for those bygone baby years – but mostly, I felt joy. I was thinking that now, she’s joined her siblings. Now they can all fly…. 

For those of you helping your children learn to read, here is just a sampling of the many free resources available. The best are easy-to-implement hands-on activities that turn learning letters and sounds into a game. 

Hands-On Phonics 

35 Sight Word Games

Vowel Sound Games

Word Family Activity

Popcorn Site Words Game

Playing with Letters

Favorite Phonics Activities

Site Word Parking Lot

Word Family Eggs

Scoop and Spell

Paint Chip Word Families

Beginning Sounds Paint Sticks

Word Rolls

Online Phonics Sites

ABC Fast Phonics


Get Ready To Read


Family Learning

Sound/Spelling Cards: Grades 1 - 3


Free Books To Practice Reading: 

Children's Storybooks Online

Free Kids Books

Scholastic Listen and Read

Roy, Tale of a Singing Zebra



Free Curricula:

Letter of the Week

Progressive Phonics

Reading Bear

Phonics By The Book

Free Phonics


Free Phonics Printables: 

Kiz Club

32-page Phonics Workbook


Letters and Sounds

3-Letter Word Cards

Fun Fonix

Have Fun Teaching

Phonics Flashcards


Free Phonics Worksheets

Kid Zone


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