There are lots of tools, activities and methods to teach and assist children as they develop reading skills.  One site I go to often as I teach Aubrey how to read is Reading A-Z.  

Reading A-Z offers numerous resources that help teach the alphabet, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension and more.  It hosts a strong selection of leveled readers that make teaching through guided reading possible for parents working with their child at home.  For classroom teachers, these books can be used to supplement your guided reading core.  I believe guided reading is the best approach for teaching early readers because it incorporates all the important reading skills into an approach that is individualized for each learner.  If you are unfamiliar with guided reading and would like more information, let me know and I'd be happy to discuss it with you and pass along more resources.

As a parent working with children individually, I recommend using these Reading A-Z leveled books mainly for early readers.  On their website this would be the Early Emergent(aa-C) and Emergent(D-J) books.  It is a big timesaver because books for true beginning readers can be challenging to locate, especially since your child will read many books at each level.  They save some planning since these books are pre-leveled and have worksheets and lesson plans that help you pick out particular ways you can use the book to build your child's reading skills.  Supplement your child's reading program by selecting books with very simple text (that resembles the leveled books they are reading) from your home or public library.  By the time your child is able to read on an early 2nd grade level (level K), I would suggest flip-flopping the way you select books.  Work with your child to choose books from your home or public library that aren't too hard or too easy.  Focus on building comprehension, developing interests (topics, authors, series), and exposing them to a variety of genres.  Make reading fun!  You can supplement with the Reading A-Z leveled readers particularly when practicing a certain skill.

Now that I've told you about some great benefits of the website, let me give you some of the specifics.  The website offers some free samples, but in order to fully use the resources it provides, you have to buy a membership.  The membership is expensive for one household, in my opinion.  It cost $89.95 and is only good for one year.  I would take the year to print all the books/activities/lesson plans you expect to need and file it by level so you don't have to subscribe again.  This would be quite an undertaking, but would save some money in the future!  They also offer a 7 day trial membership that you could use to print/make many books and then use them over a longer period of time before deciding whether or not a membership would be worthwhile for you and your child.  Either way, you should definitely explore their website and see all they have to offer!


Random acts of kindness, pay it forward, do unto others... Whatever you want to call it, this is a great site for spreading kindness and bringing out the good in people!
                                        has made business cards with the idea that you "anonymously make someone smile with an act of kindness and leave behind a card asking them to keep the ripple going."  You can download and print the cards yourself or order a set free of charge.  They also have a "smile deck" you can find when you click on the "Kindness Ideas" tab.  Each card has an idea of something you can do for others, our world, or yourself.  You shuffle the cards and choose one to do. The website also has an area where you can share your experience or read stories shared by others who have been impacted by smile cards.  Love the idea and what to connect with others doing the same?? Then, join a group of people dedicated to finding ways to make others smile.  :)

I love the idea of showing love to others and want to model that for my children.  God has called us to love one another.  So often Christians get billed as anything but loving.  I want to spread God's love with purpose and if I can do this in such a way that encourages others to show love and kindness, then I am all for it!  

I won't pass a card for every act of kindness, nor will I do something to show love to others just so I can pass cards, but it can serve to help be more purposeful about finding ways to bless others.  I think it is a great object lesson that can help develop a daily habit of looking beyond ourselves.  It is also a hands on project for the kids as I continue to teach them and allow God to foster love and kindness for all people in their hearts.  

The kids and I are working together this week to make our own deck of cards with ways they (at ages 2 and 3) can serve on each card.  I'm calling it the Service Deck.  I've made a note to blog about this more in a few weeks to share how it looks day to day.

                     For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into 
                     an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

                                                                                           Galatians 5:13

Reading that resonates within.  Outside of personal devotions this is how I feel when I read Ann Voskamp's blog a holy experience.  Life and truth are embedded in the words she writes.  When I can steal a moment to sit down and peruse the internet, this is one of the first blogs I head too.  Always, the thoughts shared here leave me refreshed yet challenged.  Ann often has activities and printables that allow you to carry away more than just words; to take action on a part that stirred something within you. 

With Thanksgiving approaching, I've been more purposeful about teaching gratitude and finding activities that do this in a meaningful way.  The Thanks Giving Tree is a beautiful, symbolic representation that helps the whole family reflect and give thanksgiving to God. All the printables are included and the directions for making it are clear and easy to follow.  She offers a variety of ways you can use this activity too!

I encourage you to check out her journal and explore the other areas of her blog.  She has a wonderful focus on finding everyday gifts in your life.  One Thousand Gifts Devotional: Reflections on Finding Everyday Graces



This website is a great way to stay informed.  It is user friendly and provides a variety of information. The site is broken into 5 main categories.

Elections- View elections calendar, results and candidates,

Issues- You can see a list of many important issues and each issue is explained briefly when you click on it. Related legislation is right there at your fingertips so you can read it and see how officials voted. 

Representatives- Find out who your representatives are, read their bios and get contact info.

Bills- View all legislation for each session of the Senate and the House.  Click on legislation to read summary and see votes.

Votes- View votes from the Senate and the House by year.

My favorite area has been the Issues section.  It helps me quickly look over current issues being brought up in the Senate and House.  If I have a strong feeling on an issue, I can click on my representative and follow the link to their official website where I am able to respectfully share my concern/opinion.