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There are so many resources today that make teaching your kiddos very easy and cheap. While there are great books that you can buy, many of us don’t have unlimited budgets to handle every book and gadget. For all of you that are homeschooling or supplementing and helping your children in weak areas after school, I thought we would start to cover some of the best free teaching resources. It’s always best to start at the beginning, so today we’ll cover tools to help teach reading.One personal note before we start this series: As any parent already knows, every child is different and some will pick things up faster than others or need more encouragement. My twins basically taught themselves to read, my now 5 year old is happy and content to be read to. Let them be themselves and try hard to meet their needs individually.
Free Reading Resources
Clifford Interactive Story Books -These interactive online books and games from Scholastic make reading exciting and fun. Who can resist a big red dog? There are English and Spanish options, making these books great for kids being raise in a bilingual home or who are learning English as a second language.
Colorin Colorado – This resource is great for children whose first language is Spanish and are just learning to read and write in English. There are guides for parents and teachers as well as an ELL starter kit which will give you an idea of what level to start teaching your child.
Starfall – This is a great place to find animated books about silly characters that your child will love to read along with. There are also coordinating games that test the skills being learned by reading each book. Their “word machine” has been a favorite among all of my girls. Note: They have a paid membership part of the site, but it is not necessary with all of the great free content they offer.
Reading Bear – This site is a great resource for teaching your child to read using phonetic patterns found in English. The digital books are designed to help your child learn to how to sound out each word. Once I get my little one started on one of the Reading Bear word games she has so much fun she doesn’t even realize she is learning. My 5 year old can work the site on her own and it shows me her progress when she is done.
Owl & Mouse – From ABC’s to learning the 100 most commonly used English words, this site is filled with printables, craft ideas, games and videos.
Between the Lions & Super Why!- This site allows your child to interact with characters from the popular PBS television shows Between the Lions and Super Why!. There are videos, games and stories that will keep them entertained and learning all at the same time!
Reading Is Fun – This is a great place for your big kids to do some reading! Once you open up one of the books they can easily click through and read at their own pace. There is also a game station and an activity lab where you can illustrate a story.
Though they may not be free, these are also some of my favorite teaching reading resources. Keep in mind you can always go to your local public library and check them out for free!
Bob Readers – These books are great for beginners, with a focus on particular sounds. I love that the pictures are basic so that the new reader isn’t pretend reading from the pictures, but instead has to look at the words.
The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading – I’ve used this with all of my girls. It is very simple with 100 lessons that each take maybe 10 minutes. This was actually my first attempt at homeschooling and helped me realize just how easy it is! This guide is great for all parents, whether they are homeschooling their children or not.
There are a few things that I’ve done that have worked great with our girls. If you already have these around the house then it’s a perfect free activity!
- Use Scrabble and Bananagram pieces to let them build their own words. Pick out the consonants and vowels that you are working on that day so that they don’t have too many options in front of them (this helps them be more successful at building correct words and decreases frustration).
- Buy a pack of index cards at the store to make your own sight words flash cards. They cost 50¢ on sale versus paying a lot more for pre-printed cards.
- In the summer grab the chalk and make words on the driveway! We do school outside as often as possible.
- Grab 2 sheets of printer paper, fold in half and let them make their own “book”. Help them write the text and then let them color the pictures.