11 Free Reading Websites for Kids

I'm so excited because I am teaching my kids how to spell, and my oldest who is in Kindergarten is learning how to read now too!  I came across some great websites to help your children learn how to read and I wanted to share them with you.  

Reading is such an important thing for your child to learn.  Hopefully these websites can help!

Developed by The Screen Actors Guild Foundation, Storyline Online features accomplished actors and actresses reading some of their favorite children’s books.  Each story comes with a free Activity Guide and can be viewed on YouTube or SchoolTube.  Rainbow FishWilfrid Gordon Macdonald Partridge, and To Be a Drum are just a few of the books available.

Similar to Storyline Online, Read to Me features popular children’s books being read by famous performers.  There are activity guides with hands-on ideas, discussion questions, and lesson plans that can easily be adapted to the Common Core State Standards.  Entirely free, the site is colorful and engaging.

A Pearson Foundation Initiative, We Give Books offers students a unique opportunity to read for social good.  Each book that is read results in a book that is donated to a charity for children.  While the books are not read aloud, they allow students to practice “Read to Self” with a good fit book during center time.  There are books for children in preschool through fourth grade.

While some areas of Starfall are part of their premium service, they have many early reader stories available for free.  Students can follow along as the story is read to them and can, in some instances, help create their own story.  The website is highly engaging and a favorite of young readers.

From The Kissing Hand read by author Audrey Wood toPinkalicious read by Victoria Kann, Barnes and Noble’s Online Storytime has popular children’s books read out loud.  While there are no supplemental materials to accompany the stories, this free site is perfect for “Listen to Reading” stations.
Note:  The first story begins right away when the page opens so be sure that your volume is adjusted accordingly before clicking the link.

TumbleBooks is a pay-for-use site that traditionally sells licenses to libraries and schools.  Many public libraries, such as the Tell City, IN Public Library, offer free access to their TumbleBooks account.  Students can follow along as the text is read them to help improve comprehension and fluency.  Choose from picture books to chapter books.   

Discover books from around the world at the International Children’s Digital Library.  The free site does not read the books aloud, but students can read them independently during Read to Self or free time.  This is a great site for extension activities when learning about different regions of the world and can be used effectively into the middle school grades.

Children can listen to short stories read aloud to them as they follow along with the highlighted text.  ABCya! has a variety of educational games in addition to the featured stories.  Free resources and materials are available for grades K through 5.

Storynory features a collection of original, fairytale, and classic children’s audio stories.  Students can follow along with the story as it is read to them, as the text is also included on the site.  There are also some great features available that give you the option of downloading the audio to your computer, listening to “catch phrase” explanations, translating text into different languages (especially helpful for your ELL students!), and more.

National Geographic Young Explorers is a magazine designed specifically for kindergarten and first grade students.  Children can listen to the magazine being read to them as they follow along with the highlighted text.  It is a great way to bring interesting non-fiction stories into reading center time.

After registering for a free account, you have access to over 250 children’s audio books that can be used in the classroom.  The book text is not part of the presentation, so students will not be able to follow along as it is read to them.

Happy Reading!! 

Dinner-in-a-Pumpkin Recipe

Can I just tell you how much I love food.  Especially around the holidays!  Growing up my mom always made sure that every holiday was special.  That usually meant that we got to eat something DELICIOUS!  Well, Halloween was NO exception!

Our special meal that we would have every Halloween was called Dinner-in-a-Pumpkin!  It is sooo yummy!  I'm sure some of you have had it, but for those that haven't you don't want to miss out!  So make this a fun Halloween tradition and EAT UP!!


1 medium pumpkin (make sure it will fit in your oven)
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 4 oz can sliced mushrooms, drained (optional)
1 can cream of chicken soup
3 cups cooked rice
1 8 oz can water chestnuts 

1.  Cut off the top of pumpkin and clean out seeds and pulp.  
2.  Paint a face on front of pumpkin with permanent marker, if desired.  Preheat oven to 350.  
3.  In large skillet saute onions in oil until tender.  Add meat and brown.  Drain.  
4.  Add soy sauce, brown sugar, mushrooms and soup.  Simmer for 10 min, stirring occasionally.  
5.  Add cooked rice and water chestnuts.  
6.  Spoon mixture into pumpkin.  Put the lid on the pumpkin.  Place on a cookie sheet.  Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 30 minutes or until the inside meat of pumpkin is tender.


Applesauce Pumpkin Bread

I LOVE the fall. Everything about this season makes my heart sing. The color change, the weather change, the ability to rock a hooded sweatshirt, roll in the leaves, pick a pumpkin, do some baking, watch our favorite football teams, and pick apples are all things that make this time of year special for my family.

One of our favorite fall recipes that is perfect to accompany any warm delicious fall dinner is a loaf of Applesauce Pumpkin Bread.  This stuff is super easy to make. It is moist and delicious!

Here is what my Great Aunt Wilma put in her recipe:  PS>>> SHE WAS A SMART LADY

2/3 cup Margarine
2  2/3 cup Sugar
4 eggs
1 cup pumpkin
1 cup Applesauce
3 1/3 cup flour
2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
2/3 cup apple juice
I add a little helper to my recipe as this bread is pretty hard to screw up. I love to have my daughter practice her numbers on this bread because if we are a hint off we have still managed to pull together a good finished product.

Here is how you put this together... super easy...

Preheat oven to 350F. Cream margarine and sugar. Add eggs one at a time beating after each egg is added. Stir in applesauce and pumpkin.  Stir together dry ingredients and add alternately with apple juice. Place batter in two large greased loaf pans. Bake for one hour.  Let cool before you remove from loaf pans.

How easy is that?


Just give it a try... you won't regret it!

Until Next Time,

Take Some of the Scare out of Halloween for Allergy Families

My kids love Halloween. Nothing can stop their chubby little fingers from ringing doorbells and touching every piece of candy in the nice bowl that our neighbors put in front of them as they scream TRICK OR TREAT!!!   Of course I stand on the sidewalk and laugh as they gleefully run from door to door trying to see what their next prize will be.

I love to see the joy on my kids' faces as they have the freedom to go ring the doorbell and choose the candy of their choice.  I love this because my kids are free of allergies. My kids do not have to worry about what they choose, what they pick, what they touch, what doorbell they ring (outside of the creepy neighbor factor).

We are free to run, explore, sample, and have fun.  Oh... and we do!

Are all kids free to do the same?  No.

I learned this one year when trick or treating with a great little four year old  peanut  and tree nut allergy ambassador and his family. He still sprinted from house to house with the joy and enthusiasm of my kids but he would not be eating what he was received
I watched while this little one would kindly ask for a candy that did not have any peanuts in it. Some parents would laugh and look for a candy that was not a snickers, and send some other not peanut heavy chocolate item with him. Little did they know that those had been manufactured in a facility with peanuts and they would not be safe for him anyway. I guess at the time I appreciated the effort of those families that listened to him, but knowing that even those treats could send him to the hospital or worse made me think about how stressful this day can be for so many families.

It does not have to be this way though. Not at every house, and this year not at my house.

  What if with very little effort you knew you could provide something for the child that was truly safe?  Would you do it?

Would you want every child coming to your door to have the same joyful, youthful, fun loving Halloween that we took for granted as kids.

My answer it yes.

So how do you do this? Well check this out...

It is called the TEAL PUMPKIN PROJECT!

You put a teal colored pumpkin on your step to let allergy families know that you are allergy friendly. That you are providing a safe alternative for their child. A  food free treat.

Now due to the fact that some people do not want to  stop handing out candy ...what if I said that even that was still possible?  Why not buy a bag  of dum dums , or Wonka candy, that does not have an allergy warning on it?   Why not pick up a bag of candy that does not say manufactured in a facility that processes PN /TN on the ingredient list?  Why not put them in a separate bowl  or just give out glow sticks and tattoos?  Is that effort any different than buying three bags of snickers and throwing them in a bowl?   I mean... hello dollar store!! Now to be fair those candies are just PN / TN free but do you have to give candy at all?  Why not be creative with your handouts... give it a try... you might like it.

Do you want to know the coolest part about this for non-allergy families.  You can take it as an opportunity to TEACH your kids.  Your kids will learn empathy.  Learn about the fact that you can make the world easier for others. You can acknowledge differences and celebrate together.   As a side note - lets be honest ---your kids will also love painting a pumpkin and putting some teal glitter on it while they are learning a valuable lesson. Really my daughter would roll in teal glitter if she could.  Make your pumpkin just as unique as the kids trick or treating at your house.

Allergies are not going away. If anything they are on the rise. This is something that our kids will deal with when we are not with them.  How would you want your kid to react in a school setting when they have a friend that has an allergy. Do you want them to have empathy for that friend? Do you want them to show another person kindness?  Would you want someone to show a little kindness to your child? Why not start at home on a holiday that can be much too scary for some.

If you want a  list of safe items check out this link...

Happy Halloween Everyone.

Have a safe and happy day.

Until Next Time,

5 Creative Ways to Organize Your Kids Crafts

I have been struggling to be able to organize my kids craft supplies.  They are a mess ALL the time.    And it is driving me CRAZY!  I really want them to be creative and be able to do fun art projects, color and draw etc. but the organizational part is my hang up...so here are some really fun and creative ways to organize your kids craft area.

I will keep you posted when I have mine all finished!

Happy Organizing!

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