This is a great way to make practicing with doubles facts really fun and interesting.  The ladybug template and worksheets are yours for FREE.  Enjoy!







Download (PDF, 66KB)

Click above for the FREE printables!






Good evening all!  I really love to teach math by focusing on mental math and encouraging the little dears to learn the facts by heart.  Facts of 10 are a great place to start and there are many fun ways of teaching these facts (which I will share soon).

Please enjoy these FREE worksheets.

Happy teaching!


Download (PDF, 155KB)

Download (PDF, 245KB)

Poetry Basics

Poetry Basics


I have to admit to not being a very “touchy-feely” kind of person, so it follows that poetry can be a very deep and confusing subject for me.  I like to approach each poem through the definitions of the words used and the styles chosen by the author to pass on their view of the world.  Webster’s gives the definition of poetry as “writing chosen and arranged to create a certain emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm”.

This definition can be broken down for your students as

a piece of writing where the author uses words chosen for their meaning, rhythm, rhyme and sound to pass on an emotional picture to the reader – YOU!

I hope you like the Poetry document – it’s yours for FREE!



Download (PDF, 143KB)

Here’s a humorous poem from Spike Milligan.  This brings back memories for me! When my dad was working away from home he would include one of these funny Spike Milligan poems in his postcards to me when I was just a wee girl!  My mum would read them to me with wonderful expression and feeling!  Sigh!

My Sister Laura

My sister Laura’s bigger than me

And lifts me up quite easily.

I can’t lift her, I’ve tried and tried;

She must have something heavy inside.

by Spike Milligan

Here’s a fantastic Poetry Dictionary!


Free Phonics Program

Free Phonics Program


Speaking of phonics, and we have been speaking of phonics, here is a fantastic link to Blend Phonics, a complete and free phonics program as recommended by Don Potter of  I have used this complete program before and it works!  So, if you are a teacher, tutor, parent or any patient and willing person click the link and it’s super simple to get started.  Great for correcting reading problems or for teaching to read.  Happy blending (phonics, that is)!

Phonics at any age

Phonics at any age

Greetings Friends,  I encourage everyone with a child, friend or loved one who struggles with reading to teach Phonics (the letter sounds).  Phonics has been taken out of the school curriculum, but is much needed to give a solid foundation for a lifetime of reading and learning.  Phonics allows the reader to enjoy reading all types of literature.  Our Step Up to Phonics program uses phonics rather than sight words to build reading skills and confidence.  I will be adding worksheets as I make them.  I have taught phonics instruction to many struggling readers with great results.  My recommendation is phonics at any age!  For knowledge, Tara


Tally Marks and Candy – Sweet!!!

Tally Marks and Candy – Sweet!!!
Tally Marks and Candy – Sweet!!!

I have recently set up a shop at  I am a little proud and a little nervous about my first effort, a candy themed tally mark game, lesson, review, worksheet and more!  Please click on the link to visit my shop.  I hope to add lots more soon!

The Importance of Phonics Instruction

The Importance of Phonics Instruction
The Importance of Phonics Instruction

“Learning to read is like learning to drive a car. You take lessons and learn the mechanics and the rules of the road. After a few weeks you have learned how to drive, how to stop, how to shift gears, how to park, and how to signal. You have also learned to stop at a red light and understand road signs. When you are ready, you take a road test, and if you pass, you can drive. Phonics-first works the same way. The child learns the mechanics of reading, and when he’s through, he can read. Look and say works differently. The child is taught to read before he has learned the mechanics — the sounds of the letters. It is like learning to drive by starting your car and driving ahead. . .And the mechanics of driving? You would pick those up as you go along.” —Rudolf Flesch, “Why Johnny Still Can’t Read,” 1981

My Teenager Can’t Read

My Teenager Can’t Read
My Teenager Can’t Read

“My Teenager Can’t Read!”

This statement is being heard more and more often as parents express disbelief and distress that their teenager does not have the necessary skills to be able to read. For many reasons, (I believe that the blame can equally be shared between the public education system itself, parents and teachers) some young people are graduating high school without being able to read the diploma they are receiving. We should all be uncomfortable accepting and facilitating a public education system that turns out “functional illiterates”.

Functional Illiteracy

Definition – having reading and writing skills insufficient for ordinary practical needs.

“Functionally illiterate describes those persons over the age of fifteen who are unable to read well enough to read a daily newspaper and comprehend it, or to read well enough to understand a simple contract, or a basic letter concerning their children’s school needs, or the pamphlets that are enclosed with prescription drugs that explain side effects and precautions.” USA Today

Some studies have set the figure of functional illiterate adults as 40%-50% of the population.

Living as a Functional Illiterate

Living with a reading problem is unimaginably complex. How many times today did you take for granted your ability to read? When you pay a bill, read a menu, surf the internet, look for a plumber, catch up on the news, help your children with homework, read a recipe, flip through a magazine, fill in a form – imagine doing them without being able to read. If your child is a non-reader, he has already invented strategies to cope on a day-to-day basis.

Reading the Signs of Functional Illiteracy

Poor grades in most subjects.
Studying that does not bring the desired results, for example higher test scores.
Avoiding reading situations.
Frustration, angry or apathy about schoolwork or the future.
Sadness, depression or feeling overwhelmed when reading is mentioned.
Stumbling over the names of unfamiliar street signs and product directions.
Strong dislike of school except as a social setting.
“What can I do now?”

Learning to read as a teenager is well within your child’s ability (as long as there is no structural damage to the organic functions such as sight or speech). It will be very difficult for your teen to admit to a failure in reading. They may feel embarrassed and belittled. You will have to handle their emotions very carefully to make sure they stay on the path to reading success.

Wishing you all the best for reading success, Tara

My child won’t read! He hates reading! She won’t pick up a book! What can I do?

My child won’t read! He hates reading! She won’t pick up a book! What can I do?
My child won’t read!  He hates reading!  She won’t pick up a book!  What can I do?

If you know a child that hates to read and will avoid reading as much as possible, please read on!  Here are some great solutions for parents, teachers and tutors to this common problem that causes concern and worry.  There are tried and tested ways to give every child the priceless gift of a love of reading.  Try some today!

Easy Solutions to Reading Aversion

Aversion  – a strong feeling that you dislike something.

Reading is a God-Given Right

Three year-olds ask a lot of questions!  And these are not your average questions – What time is it? Or, What’s for dinner?  These are deep piercing contemplations about the cosmos, the afterlife and the day-to-day running of Disney World.  All of us at any age should share a three year old’s determination and commitment to gaining knowledge by learning as much as possible about the world we live in.  In fact, we have a God-given right to learning, and reading is an essential part of that journey.

Finding our Purpose in Life

Most people believe that there is a Greater Force at work in the process of making us and instilling in us certain unique characteristics, gifts and talents.  We want our children to realize their full potential and grow into their purpose especially if we feel that we are not living our true purpose.  Reading is a key step towards developing the gifts that are uniquely theirs.  Whatever their talents there are hundreds of books that will open their minds and motivate their continued study.

Where do you Hear that?

If your child does not read and find out for himself, he makes decisions and forms opinions based on the false information that others feed him.  Whether it is from a group of peers, a misguided adult or an explicit movie, your child will learn through what he hears (or sees) rather than what he reads.

There’s a Thin Line …

A child that expresses an aversion to reading, avoids reading or would rather do anything else (including the dishes) has been affected by a negative force that interrupted his desire and willingness to learn.  Once a correction is made, your child will be on the road to reading and loving to read to your amazement and delight!


There are many reasons why a child has an aversion to reading.  The good news is that with plenty of patience and consistency, your child will be asking you to take them to the library!

Problem 1: Lack of Interest

We all have different tastes and this is reflected in our choice of reading material.  Often children are forced to read books they have no interest in, so they become reluctant to read and don’t see reading as a source of entertainment.


Become interested in your child’s likes and dislikes. Spend quality time with your child at a bookstore or library.   The role of a parent is to encourage and grow an interest.  A budding chef can be directed to a recipe book (yes, that’s reading), a sports fan can be encouraged to read a sports magazine or stats about their favorite team/athlete (that’s reading too!).

Books and websites to build interest

A big plug for this site .  Go to the book finder link below to search for a list of books according to your child’s interests (K-8).  They can read the book, take the quiz and get prizes.  I use it to generate a list of books for the child I am working with.  Then I request a few from my local library or look for them at a local second hand book store.

Into facts and stats?  Check out:

Guinness World Records 2012

Ripley’s Believe It or Not                

Manga, comic books and graphic novels – most libraries and bookstores have plenty!

Into gaming? Check out:

The Denver Public Library’s “Books for Gamers”

Into fashion?  Check out:

Rani and the Fashion Divas by Anjali Banerjee – for girls ages 8-12

Fashion 101: A Crash Course in Clothing by Erika Stalder

Problem 2: Frustration

Have you considered that your child may be lacking in some of the “must have” reading skills that would make his reading experience warm and fuzzy?  Phonics, blending, fluency and vocabulary are all key elements of reading and understanding what is being read.  Misunderstood words, ignoring punctuation, misplaced tone and the omission or addition of words make the text impossible to comprehend and brings on feelings of anger, frustration, sadness or apathy.


Ask your child to read aloud to you (don’t force – if they say no, try again another time).  Make him feel relaxed and calm, if necessary take turns and read a paragraph each.  Do you notice him struggling with words and stumbling through the text?  If so, choose another book at a lower reading level (use an internet search to find the reading level if you don’t know it, or use  Use a free website like to brush up on lacking reading skills (most children and adults would benefit and improve reading by studying phonics) and gradually the frustration will disappear.

Problem 3: Anxiety

Parents can be very pushy with their child’s education (guilty as charged!).  “Is this the best you can do?”, “I didn’t have the chances that you have”, “I had to get a job as soon as I was old enough”.  We want the best for them and sometimes we continue to demand more even when they are working hard.  If a child is forced to read by a parent or teacher or has been laughed or mocked while reading, then reading is seen as a negative activity that must be avoided.  Who wants to relive an embarrassing moment?  (Not me!  Being punched by a girl getting self-defense lessons from her buff boyfriend in the middle of a very crowded room at college still gives me chills!)


Patience x 100

Your child must be treated carefully and be given a safe reading environment by a parent, teacher or tutor, free from criticism and pressure.  Suggest reading aloud to you in 15 minute sessions.  Get plenty of interesting reading materials, funny stories, short, dramatic stories, mysteries – whatever will be interesting.  Build your child’s confidence in his own ability to read and with time and all that patience you will see them blossom.  While you are working on this you may want to speak to your child’s teacher to ask her if your child may be excused from reading aloud in class for a while.

Problem 4: “I’m Too Busy to Read”

No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.”Confucius

Pretty straightforward!  Your child may have a hectic schedule of school, homework, music lessons, sports activities, tutoring and chores – no matter what the obstacles reading is a must.  Help them to schedule reading into their days or on the weekends.  Maybe choose a special book or series to read during the holidays.

Or, you may be faced with a child who thinks they are busy, but most of their time is squandered (forgive me, but this irks me!) on television, movies, video games, internet dilly-dallying (what is the real name for it then?) and the like.


A child has to be nurtured and developed into the person that they have been pre-determined to be.  This is where you have to be the parent and not the friend!  Set time limits and viewing rules to create habits in your child so that they will not be destined to be a couch potato and and watch everyone else live!  Who invited this unwelcome guest to control your household?   Time to take back control without force but with understanding and good communication.  Discuss with your child the consequences of too much viewing time, talk about how many ads they are watching, how many ideas that they may be passing up by not developing them.

Let’s make reading aversion a thing of the past for our children and any other youth that we come into contact with.  Reading is infectious, the popularity of ebooks, Kindles, Nooks, iPads and tablets prove that.  Learning is a right that belongs to your child and reading is the path for that lifelong journey.

I admire your efforts to help your child enjoy the reading experience!

Happy reading, Tara.