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Reading; Language Arts
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

Laughin' and Learnin' with Funny Books Tags: funny kids books popular kids books best kids books famous kids books wally mcdoogle shel silverstein jack prelutsky robert munsch grossology

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When my son was about eight, he "discovered' the Wally McDoogle Series of books, in which the "dorky" main character experiences all sorts of ridiculous mishaps, but somehow ends up learning good life lessons along the way. (The books highlight Biblical principles and issues of character, such as honesty, humility, trusting God, loving your enemies, etc.). 

But, aside from whatever "lessons" are illustrated in the books, I really got a kick out of seeing and hearing my son laughing out loud and getting enjoyment from reading, something I hope will be with him throughout his life. Of course, I realize that everything we read can't be a continuous crack-up, but adding a little levity to one's studies often helps the learning process, and changes things up a bit. 

A couple of years later, my then seven-year-old daughter also found these books hilarious. She especially liked to read the funny parts out loud, her voice rising and falling with various inflections. Overall, a fun learning experience for her -- and quite entertaining for me.

Here's a brief list of some other funny books that have been recommended by parents, along with some accompanying free resources: 

Dear Deer teaches about homonyms and homophones. Here's a free download of homophone cards to use for games. Includes 23 homophone riddles. 

Amelia Bedelia highlights idioms of the English language, such as "Hold your tongue," and "That's the way the cookie crumbles." Here's a free idioms activity that goes along with the original book in the series. And check out the World of Amelia Bedelia for free teaching guides, activities, downloads, and online games.

Humorous Poetry:

Books of poetry by Jack Prelutsky. Here's a free download with reading and writing activities, and puzzles to go with Pizza, Pigs and Poetryand My Dog May Be a Genius. Another favorite is It's Thanksgiving. 

Poems by Shel Silverstein. Visit the author website for free downloads with lessons and activities for many of his poems.

History: Some people like to include units on tall tales and folklore. This site on American Folklore includes ghost stories, myths and legends, native American lore, and other stories. You can also choose folklore by state.

Science: The Grossology series discusses various body processes (body odor, burping, bad breath) and the science behind them. You can visit the World of Grossology for some gross factoids, (eg. a person produces about a quart of mucus each day), and information on animal grossness (eg. slime makers and blood slurpers).

Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners

Daft Bat talks about seeing things from a different viewpoint.

Robert Munsch books, in particular, Purple, Green and Yellowone of my kids' favorites.

What are some of your kids faves?

Laugh Learn Linkup

Interactive Literature Sites Tags: classic literature classic novels romeo and juliet edgar allen poe lord of the flies quotes lord of the flies summary


Sites with interactive features to help study authors and particular works of literature:


Romeo and Juliet: This interactive version displays the text of the play on the left panel with clickable links to related text, video, audio and images on the right panel. There’s a Resources section with details about the characters, Plot Synopses, Facts about the play, and other information.


Knowing Poe: Learn more about “Poe the Person” through interactive features that allow you to tour his house, learn about his education, or solve the mystery of his death. Learn more about “Poe the Writer” with activities exploring his techniques. And in the “Poe Library,” along with a list of his works, you’ll find primary source documents, such as letters and original manuscripts; and the many and varying references to his works both here, and around the world.


Interactive Poetry: Speaking of Poe, visit TeachersFirst’s The Raven to learn more about such literary devices as alliteration, assonance, internal rhyme, metaphor and simile, and personification.  Move the mouse over highlighted words to see what devices are being employed. There's also an interactive version of The Highwayman.

Lord of the Flies: Start off on the island around a campfire where you must match the quotes and objects to the correct character. Move on into the interior of the island to explore some of the novel’s symbols. Back to the beach to answer some questions about the novel. And finally, a short bio blurb about the author.

Name That Literary Element: Game in which you match the definition to the correct literary element.

Know of any similar sites? Leave them in the comments.


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