Teach Your Child to Read

How I Taught My Child to Read for FREE!

Our budget was pretty much nonexistent during our first year as a homechool family. Not only did it take almost every penny we had saved to start our own business, but me and my husband decided whatever money we did have to dedicate to homeschool would go toward experience rather than a boxed curriculum. So we took fieldtrips, we traveled, we took classes, and we invested in martial arts training for our kids.

How on earth did we survive without a boxed curriculum? We’ve been asked this question before. My answer is this: We used any free resource we could get our hands on to teach our kids. This included books from the library. After a bit of research, I realized I had enough information to put together an emergent reader curriculum for my then kindergartner. Today, I want to share some of the steps I took with you! Now be forewarned that this is not a comprehensive curriculum, but a great guide in helping you create your own.

Keep reading if you’d like to know the eight steps I used to set the foundation for my emergent reader curriculum. I had to dig deep in the back of my closet and pull out my portfolios for this one, so I hope you like it!

How I Taught My Child to Read for FREE!

In 8 Simple Steps

1.    Where do I begin? Researching “Standards of Excellence.”

First, I accessed my state’s Department of Education website and researched their standards for kindergarten English and language arts. I did not follow this curriculum-outline verbatim. I simply highlighted the standards that aligned with our goals for emergent reading. Here are the following standards I adopted into our homeschool from the Georgia Standard of Excellence (GSE):

•    Knows and understands print concepts.

•    Demonstrates phonological awareness.

•    Demonstrates phonics and word recognition.

•    Recognizes high-frequency sight words.

•    Can read emergent-reader texts with purpose and understanding.

Adopting these standards simply meant that these five bullet points became the goals we expected to achieve by the end of our child’s kindergarten year.

2.    Getting Started | Is My Child Ready to Read?  

Before we jumped the gun in teaching our kindergartner to read, we looked for signs of reading readiness. According to GSE, reading readiness occurs when a child demonstrates an understanding of the organization and basic features of print.  Here are some indicators that your child is ready to read:

•    Can follow words from left to right, top to bottom, and page by page.

•    Can recognize that spoken words are represented in written language by specific sequences of letters.

•    Can understand that words are separated by spaces in print.

•    Can recognize and name all upper- and lowercase letters of the alphabet (and their sounds). 

Additionally, other signs that demonstrated reading readiness in our home were that our son began pretending to read books, started inquiring what certain words said, and began asking how to spell certain words.

SPECIAL NOTE: It is highly recommended to teach your child letter sounds first, rather than letter names. Teaching letter sounds make learning how to read easier for the child. 

3.    Learning CVC Words.

Our first official lesson started with CVC words. CVC stands for consonant-vowel-consonant words. The words “bat” and “pot” are two examples of CVC words. I don’t think we spent any more than two weeks on these lessons, as my kindergartner mastered these words pretty quickly. In addition, most CVC words belong to word families, so I simply decided to move on to teaching word families. Here is a free CVC Word List. You can print this list and divide the words up according to how many you want to teach per week. Some of the free resources we used are no longer available, but here are other games and resources we found helpful:

•    The CVC Reading Machine

•    CVC Puzzles

•    Build a CVC Word

•    CVC Interactive Notebook

•    CVC Sensory Play

•   CVC Build and Jump Game 

4.    Introducing Word Families.

Word families are words that have the same combination of letters and a similar sound. The words “back” and “pack” are two examples of words that belong to the “ack” family. Learning word families was a great introduction to decoding words. We used the following Word Family List and learned four word families per week, leaving Fridays for review. Additionally, the following resources helped my son to practice and master these words:

•    Build a Word

•    Word Family Warm-ups

•    Cut and Paste Word Family

•    Word Family Match

•    Word Family Fun

5.    Mastering Sight Words.

Sight words are the most commonly used words in a given text. I taught sight words a little differently. Instead of simply memorizing the word (which is how they’re traditionally taught), I chose to show my son a few decoding techniques for better understanding. Here is a link to an awesome Sight Word List that helps ease your lesson planning by breaking down sight words by the month. This list only shares about 50 words. We, however, learned 100 sight words using flash cards (about 5 every week). Here are some great free resources for sight word practice:

•    Sight Word Teaching Strategies

•    Sight Word Reading Passages

•    Sight Word Comprehension and Fluency

•    LEGO Sight Word Practice

•    Sight Word Song

 6.    Embarking on Long Vowel Sounds.

My son started noticing that not all vowel sounds were created equal. After stumbling across a YouTube video on the wonders of Super E, he begged me to start teaching him about long vowel sounds. This was not a part of our lesson plan, so I had to adjust. I started with printing out this Long Vowel Rules List.  I studied all the rules of long vowel sounds and then broke them up into palatable lessons for my kindergartner. We did not get to cover all of the rules, but we did focus on words that end with “e”, as well as double “e” vowel words like “feet.” Some resources we used included:

•    Super e Worksheets

•    Super e Magic Song

•    Super e Magic Wand

•    Super e Rockets

•    Super e Planets

7.    Becoming a Fluent Reader.

By this time, my kindergartner was more than ready to begin reading. We started with short passages, taking advantage of the many freebies that Teachers pay Teachers (an online educational resource) had to offer. To this day, my son is still required to do reading comprehension practice every morning. Repetition is key to fluency. Here are some of the free resources we used for kindergarten.

•    Reading Comprehension Freebie

•    Reading Comprehension (Color it)

•    Reading Comprehension (Sight Words)

•    Reading Comprehension Sample Pack

•    Reading Comprehension Fluency Passages

Additionally, our favorite emergent reader books are from the I Can Read collection. My kindergartner’s favorite series from this collection included Charlie the Ranch Dog and Frog and Toad. You can find these books for free at your local library.

8.    Testing Knowledge.

Of course hearing my kindergartner read was proof enough that he had mastered the GSE standards we adopted. However, I did use the Sonlight Reading Assessment to gauge what level he was reading at. He tested for Grade 1 level at the end of his kindergarten year. Another method I used to evaluate my son’s reading progress was noting the levels on the types of books he was reading. For instance, for I Can Read books, he went from the emergent reader level to reading level 1 & 2 books confidently all by himself.  You can also use Book Wizard to find out what level your child is reading at.

And that’s it! Those are the eight steps I took to help my emergent reader! Here are some key points to take home:

•    We waited until our kindergartner was ready.

•    We focused on decoding words rather than memorization.

•    We used comprehensive word lists to help guide us along our curriculum.

•    We read a TON of books daily.

•    We practiced until mastery.

I would not advise a DIY curriculum if you are not up to the task. Please seek out a free virtual curriculum if you are on a tight budget but do not want to create your own reading curriculum. Easy Peasy All in One Homeschool is a great place to start. They offer a pretty decent emergent reader curriculum free of charge. Check out my Free Homeschool Curriculum Deals for more info on free homeschool curricula.

For more free resources, check out my online store Nike Anderson’s Classroom at Teachers pay Teachers!


Black History Month

New Black History Month Activities

Good news! I’ve updated my Black Inventors worksheets for Black History Month! So many of you downloaded this set last year that I wanted to offer a more professional and polished version for you to use in your classroom.

Last year, I noticed that many of you waited until the absolute last second to start thinking about Black History Month. To encourage you to plan your lessons earlier, I’m offering a two-day SALE, valid today and tomorrow evening at 11:59 pm. Don’t miss out on 20% off my entire store—including all of my new products!

***Click the image below to take advantage of the 20% SALE at Nike Anderson’s Classroom!***

Note: This PROMOTION has ended. Follow my store to be the first to know about upcoming discounts.

Nike Anderson's Classroom Free & Affordable Educational Resources


I’ll see you there!

Read below for a detailed description of this fun Black Inventors Activity…

Don’t let these amazing Black inventors get overlooked this Black History Month! Inspire your classroom with these engaging activities that allow your students to strengthen the following skills:

•    Reading
•    Writing
•    Creativity
•    Understanding

Each worksheet includes the following activities to help build and encourage knowledge retention.

•    Read About Me.
•    Color My Picture.
•    Practice Writing My Name.

The following Black inventors are included in this set.

1.    Elijah McCoy
2.    Lewis Latimer
3.    Dr. Patricia Bath
4.    George Washington Carver
5.    Jan E. Matzeliger
6.    Alexander Miles
7.    Marie Van Brittan Brown
8.    Mary Kenner
9.    Madame C.J. Walker
10.  Sarah E. Goode

This set also includes a fun cut-and-paste review! In this review, students are required to match the inventor to their invention.


Go no-prep or include these activities into your Black History lesson plan. The choice is yours!

Christmas Letter Templates

FREE Dear Santa | Dear God Letter Templates

This week, I created Christmas inspired letter templates! I know there are a ton of free Christmas templates out there, but I wanted to customize my own to use in my classroom. I want to reinforce to my kids that gratitude and generosity are great qualities to embody, especially during the holiday season. Therefore, I included a “guide” so to speak, encouraging kids to write down something that they’re thankful for, something that they’re hoping for, and something they plan to do for someone else. If your students choose to skip the guide, blank templates are also included for them to write as they wish.

You will also notice that the templates include a choice between a “Dear Santa” and “Dear God” salutation. That is because my children do not believe in Santa Claus, so we will be writing letters to God. Even though we don’t celebrate Santa (nothing wrong with people who do!), I still like my kids to write letters that include things they are hoping to get for Christmas. Makes my job easier! I know I am not the only parent who chooses not to play the Santa game, so I decided to share these templates with others.

These templates are totally FREE to download. No strings attached. All you have to do is click on the link below! There are twelve templates total with 4 design options. I hope this helps someone. Merry Christmas!



Visit Nike Anderson’s Classroom for more free resources!


Christmas Theme Worksheets

New Christmas Worksheets for Reading and Math!

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving! By Monday, many of us will already have our Christmas tree up complete with trimmings. But is your classroom ready?

Be the best teacher ever and make these adorable Christmas-themed worksheets a part of your classroom! Below are some of my latest kid-approved products coming from my classroom to yours. Check them out!


Click to see preview at Nike Anderson’s Classroom

Bring some holiday cheer into your classroom with these unique, Christmas-themed math practice worksheets. Designed for the 16 December days that lead up to Christmas break, these worksheets offer a motivational quote for each day as a “gift” of encouragement to students. The following quotes are included:

Day 1. You were born to stand out!
Day 2. Always do your best!
Day 3. Nothing is impossible!
Day 4. If you dream it, you can do it!
Day 5. Be yourself!
Day 6. You don’t have to be perfect to be amazing!
Day 7. Never give up on yourself!
Day 8. Think happy thoughts!
Day 9. You are somebody’s reason to smile!
Day 10. You can learn anything!
Day 11. You are super special!
Day 12. The world is a better place with you in it!

Aside from being inspirational, these printable math facts worksheets are designed to develop and improve the following skills for grades 1-2:

1. Develop strategies for adding and subtracting whole numbers.
2. Fluently add and subtract within 20.

There are 12 worksheets for addition practice and 12 worksheets for subtraction practice. A total of 24 worksheets and 352 math problems!


Click to see preview at Nike Anderson’s Classroom 

Bring some holiday cheer into your classroom using these adorable, Christmas-themed reading comprehension worksheets. Included are 16 quirky letters to Santa with 48 follow-up questions.

These printable worksheets are designed to encourage and strengthen the following skills for grades K-2.

1. Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.
2. Demonstrate an understanding of key ideas and details.
3. Express creativity through the use of drawing to narrate the text.
4. Produce clear and coherent writing.

As a bonus, this set also includes a fun letter template for students to customize their own letters to Santa!

Both packets are common core aligned. Check them out on Teachers Pay Teachers for common core strand details.

Frugal Resources for Homeschool

12 Frugal Supplements I Used For Preschool & Kindergarten

During my homeschool research, I came across several blog posts recommending high-priced curricula and supplement materials. But for homeschool parents on a budget, like us, you don’t have to fork over your entire homeschool savings on curricula alone. Take the frugal road and save most of that money for enriching activities and experiences outside the classroom.

Most of you know that I created my own curriculum this year. Partly because I was on a budget and partly because I didn’t want to spend top dollar on something that may not work for us. I needed to spend time with my children to assess their learning style and abilities so that I could determine which curriculum fit best for our household. I’m glad I did this. Not only did I save money, but I’m now able to help other homeschool parents who are looking to save money, too.

Most of the worksheets and activities my boys did this year were created by me. However, there were some resources that helped me fill in those gaps. Not all of these resources were free, but they fit into my budget nicely. Here they are!

12 Great Resources That Helped Me Supplement My Homeschool Curriculum for Pre-K and Kindergarten. 

1Scholastic Early Learners workbook..    Scholastic Early Learners workbook.

This workbook was used more so toward the beginning of the year, although we still like to use it for handwriting practice. Among other things, this workbook covers practice in the alphabet and phonics, counting, shapes and 3-D shapes, sequencing, telling time, and standard kindergarten vocabulary practice.

Trend Enterprises Ready to Read workbook

2.    Trend Enterprises Ready to Read workbook.

This workbook covers beginning reading skills, upper and lowercase letters, letter and word puzzles, basic reading vocabulary, and reading and following directions. This is a wipe – off book used primarily by my 3-year-old, even though it’s designed for kindergarten. However, my kindergartner has gotten some great use out of it, too.

School Zone Big Workbook3.    School Zone Big Workbook.

I purchased this workbook at the First Grade level to challenge my kindergartner. We used this book very often, as it allowed for practice in many areas. The book covers critical thinking, phonics and spelling, vocabulary, reading comprehension, basic math, and math word problems, among other things. We were able to cover a lot of ground with this workbook, so we found it super helpful.

4.    Learning Resources flashcards.

We used the United States flashcards as a part of our geography lesson. These flash cards also came with fun facts. My preschooler used the Alphabet and Numbers flash cards to practice phonics and fluency in counting up to 30. We also purchased “thumbs up” stickers from the Dollar Tree and placed a sticker on each flash card they mastered. This allowed us to practice more on the facts they hadn’t mastered yet. I know flash cards are frowned upon in the homeschool community, but my kids love flash cards!

5.    Trend Enterprises Sight Word flashcards.

Playing fun games with these flash cards really helped my kindergartner to master his sight words. These flashcards have all sorts of levels for sight word practice. Once again, we used the
sticker method to keep track of the words he needed more practice with. By the end of the year, my kindergartner’s fluency at recalling sight words greatly increased.

Teachers pay Teachers.

6.    Teachers pay Teachers.

This is where I downloaded and printed many of my worksheets. This resource carries everything from science activities to reading comprehension practice, and so much more! Some of the resources are free, others are fairly priced. The great thing about this resource was that I can print out exactly what I need, rather than flipping through a published workbook filled with fluff. I have a store listed on Teachers Pay Teachers where I offer free printables. Find it, here.

National Geographic Kids7.    National Geographic Kids.

National Geographic Kids is a fun resource for learning about plants, animals, and habitats all around the world. They also have a fun “How Things Are Made” series, where kids can learn how their favorite things are made from pizza to crayons, and even LEGOs! The National Geographic Kids website includes a wealth of resources from videos to books, and fun learning games and quizzes. Also, check out the Dollar Tree for National Geographic books to add to your science curriculum.

1464117973397-18.    YouTube.

There are so many YouTube learning channels for Kids. Videos are great for reinforcing facts, ideas, and concepts. National Geographic Kids has a great YouTube Channel. Other favorites are Animal Atlas and The Kids Picture Show, which covers advanced shapes, colors, and the solar system, among other things. I love these channels for those hectic mornings where I need my boys to stay in one place while I make breakfast or put in a load of laundry. These channels are also great compliments to curriculum lessons. My kids can learn all about the solar system and then watch a fun video about it.

61j76ft19zl-_sx258_bo1204203200_9.    The Everything Kids’ Science Experiments Book.

This book covers the human body, physics, biology, chemistry, and nature. We liked this book because most of the experiments called for everyday items you’d use in your home. We got more into science experiments towards the end of the year, and this book had tons of fun ones to do that were pre-k and kindergarten friendly. The book also provides key terms as well as gives explanations of what’s happening during the experiment, which is great for lesson planning.

146411915598611.    I Can Read books.

These books include a ton of series from Amelia Bedelia to Frog and Toad, which are my childhood favorites. The great thing about “I Can Read” books is that they have different levels from emerging readers to advanced readers. We started off at Level 1, but there’s a level before that called “Shared Reading.” Shared reading is great because it divides the books with sentences for parents to read and sentences for emerging readers. I don’t think kids should be pushed to read early, but my kindergartner showed all the signs of reading readiness. His favorite “I Can Read” series are from Charlie the Ranch Dog.

12.    The library.nola_brantley_memorial_library

I know I mention this resource all the time, but the library is certainly underrated. Not only do they hold classes and activities for homeschoolers, they also have a ton of resources, discount codes for education materials, and so much more. We checked out a ton of books every week for the entire school year. Books on astronomy, geography, the human body, and, of course, books to read just for fun. The library also has STEM activities for budding engineers and a great selection of audiobooks for kids. Be careful to look at the copyright date on the books to ensure the resource isn’t outdated.

the_macon_museum_of_arts__sciences_172177613.    The Museum.

Our local museum is completely free. Other museums like the Children’s or Science museums usually have free admission days. Take advantage of your local museum! They typically hold great classes for homeschool families. Our local museum holds regular STEM Classes. If you’re unfamiliar with STEM, it’s an acronym for all things Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics—sometimes Art (STEAM). Museums are great for a learning day outside the home. Pack a lunch and have a fun picnic in the designated picnic areas!

I’m sure I forgot some amazing resources we used. If I did, you’ll surely hear about it in the future. These resources, however, are ones that we used often and made excellent supplements to my curriculum lesson plans. If you are on a tight budget this year, I urge you to try out some of these resources. For a list of free curricula, click here.

Lastly, I just want to say, don’t be afraid of not using the same pricey curriculum as everyone else. It’s not what you have, but how you use what you have. There are kids using those materials who are struggling, read the forums! And I want to note that even though we didn’t use a top-notch curriculum, my kindergartner still tested above grade-level for both reading and math. It’s not necessary to keep score in homeschool, but I needed to test him to prepare for next year’s curriculum.

Will you be creating your own curriculum next school year? Let us know down below!