Teaching Reading at Home: Free Phonics Worksheets and Resources

Worksheets and books to teach phonics can be found for little to no cost. Two resources are your local public library and the internet.

Many phonics books include fun activities to liven up your lessons. For example, draw a house with a roof and two ladders. Write one word on each rung. The child has to say all the words going up the ladder to get on the roof. If she misses a word then go back to the bottom of the ladder and start again. Then once they get themselves on the roof they have to read the words going down the second ladder to get down.

Another fun strategy is to make art projects out of phonics words – a tree with fall leaves with words on them, Christmas trees with word ornaments, hearts or eggs in a basket, or snowflakes. Count up to your 100th day of homeschool and see if you can come up with 100 words to put on a poster. More teaching activities can be found in the following books.

Books for Teaching Phonics

Thses are taken from a list on the Multnomah County Public Libraries website.

Phonemic Awareness Activities for Early Reading Success: Easy, Playful Activities That Help Prepare Children for Phonics Instruction
Phonics From A to Z: A Practical Guide (Blevins)
Hands-On Alphabet Activities for Young Children: A Whole Language Plus Phonics Approach to Reading (Brown)
Phonics for the New Reader: Step-by-Step (Fields)
Big Book of Phonics for Whole Language (Frischer)
Phonics Pathways (Hiskes)
Big Book of Phonics for Whole Language (Karwowski)
Reading Reflex: The Foolproof Phono-Graphix Method for Teaching Your Child to Read (McGuinness)

Gardening in Shade – Harbingers of Fall

In addition to the ones that I grow (see Asters, Part I) in my USDA zone 7 garden, there are many other aster species and cultivars that can provide color in your garden.

Actually, although I think of asters as end of the season plants, some, like Aster alpinus, flower earlier in the season.

Aster alpinus (Alpine Aster)

Flowering in late spring or early summer, this small — six to twelve inch (15 – 30cm) tall native of the mountains of Europe, Asia and the western North America is a great plant for the front of the border or the rock garden. It is rated hardy from USDA zones 4 to 9, but does best where winters are cold. They prefer well-drained, alkaline soil and need sun.

Some of the species varieties are:

dolomiticus, found on the Balkan Peninsula gets eight inches (20 cm)tall and has foliage with fine hairs held flatly against it;
polycephalus, found in Switzerland has several flower heads on each stem with the terminal heads larger than the lateral ones;
speciosus, found in Central Asia, gets up to twenty inches (50.8cm) tall and has larger flower heads than the species of a dark violet color;
Wolfii, also native to Switzerland can get to one foot (30.4cm) or more in height and has blue flowers.

There are also several cultivars, some with semi-double flowers:

‘Albus’, of course, has white flowers;
‘Coeruleus’, which has blue flowers and gets ten inches (25cm) tall;
‘Roseus’ has pale rose flowers and is six inches (15cm)tall;
‘Rubra’ has rosy-purple flowers;
‘Superbus’ has larger and more showy heads of purple flowers;
‘Dark Beauty’ gets six to twelve inches (15 – 30.4cm) tall and has deep blue flowers;
‘Goliath’ gets fifteen inches tall and has soft blue flowers;
Happy End’ gets twelve inches tall and has semidouble lavender flowers.

Aster alpigenus

This is another alpine aster, native to the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and Washington. It gets seven inches (17.8cm) tall when in flower. Hortus III lists one variety, Hayenii, said to have more slender stems with leaves reaching four inches long and native to Eastern Oregon and north east Nevada to western Wyoming and Montana. I have not run across any cultivation information, but have to assume from the native locations and gravel soil in the photographs that this is a definite alpine and would require scree conditions and cold winters.

Aster amellus (Italian Aster)

Aster amellus, native to central and south eastern Europe and western Asia, has a reputation for being temperamental and a bit tricky to grow. Unlike most asters, it cannot be moved or divided in fall and may sulk for a year until it is re-established. The flowers, which bloom in mid summer, are said to be fragrant. It will get between eighteen inches and two feet (45.7 – 60.9cm) tall and form a nice, bushy clump about eighteen inches (45.7 cm) in diameter. The leaves are rough and the lowest ones can get six inches (15cm) long. It is drought resistant and long-blooming, but may be better for the experienced gardener.

The variety bessarabicus is native to Bessarabia; reaches two feet (45.7cm) tall and has dull purple flowers.

This is a popular species in Europe and a number of cultivars have been named that may be a bit difficult to find in US nurseries.

Aster divaricatus (White Wood Aster)

This rather sprawling, rhizomatous aster has woody, twiggy almost black stems. It’s found in dry woods from Main to Georgia and west to Ohio. Unlike most asters, the leaves are large (the lower ones can be seven inches (17.8 cm) long, and heart-shaped. Although not as showy as some asters, this one is particularly valuable for shady gardens because it will bloom in heavy shade and tolerates dry shade — something we have a lot of if we garden under large trees! A. divaricatus will vary between one foot and two feet (30.5 – 60.9 cm) tall and about eighteen inches in diameter. It’s best to plant them in groups and allow them to flop. They are rated hardy from USDA zones 3 to 9.

Aster dumosus (Bushy Aster)

Native from Massachusetts to Florida and Louisiana, Aster dumosus flowers prolifically in light, well drained soil and a sunny location. It will degenerate rapidly in compacted or poorly drained soil. This is one that needs division almost every year to keep blooming well. It gets about three feet (1 meter) tall and is rated hardy to USDA zones 2 and 3. Numerous cultivars, some dwarf, have been developed, among them:

‘Lady in Blue’
‘Pink Bouquet’
‘Professor Kippenberg’

There are even more asters I’ll tell you about next time. See ya’ later.

Learn to Fight for Your Rights!

I have been on long term disability for the past two years due to my fibromyalgia. Long-term disability is not permanent disability and thus, I have to have my doctor fill out long forms, plus fill out forms myself every 6 months. I had had to apply for permanent disability twice now, and I was rejected the first time, and am waiting to hear the results of my latest submission. I get monthly phone calls from my long term disability provider asking me how I am doing. Basically, they don’t want to keep me on long term disability, and are pushing to get me on permanent disability so that they don’t have to pay as much to me.

I receive two thirds of the amount of money that I would earn if I was able to work, and although this is better than what others with FMS receive, it still isn’t enough to help with my husband’s income — plus the increase in the cost of living is not figured into this amount.

I distinctly remember the day when I had to meet with someone from the Worker’s Compensation Board, my head nurse, the health & safety officer of the hospital where I worked, and the British Columbia Nurses’ Union representative. I had been on short term disability from the Worker’s Compensation Board several times due to multiple back injuries, and was on it when I finally accepted the fact that I had fibromyalgia. They did not recognize fibromyalgia as a work-related illness, and I know of only one case where a woman with FMS finally won an appeal from them related to her fibromyalgia, and she had to hire a lawyer in order to be taken seriously about her FMS beginning after a work-related back injury.

I was in excruciating pain throughout my entire body on that meeting day, and was trying to sit in a stuffy room, in a very uncomfortable chair. I was shifting my position constantly, and even had to lie on the floor and stretch my muscles at one point. No doubt they thought I was just being dramatic, but I wasn’t. I was in so much pain that I was either going to start crying or just get very angry with all of them. I tried very hard to remain calm as they suggested that I try to work at least 4 hours a day for four days per week for at least a month. I asked them how I was suppose to care for nine patients when I couldn’t even sit in the chair for a few minutes, and how was I suppose to give good nursing care when my pain was at such a high level that I couldn’t focus on anything except it. They refused to believe that my fibromyalgia could cause as much pain as I said it did, and I have a high tolerance for pain!

As a registered nurse, I have little tolerance for poor nursing care, and I refused to lower my standards just to please these people who had no knowledge of fibromyalgia and the effects it can have upon a person, both physically and emotionally.

I refused to work, and informed them that I had already applied for long-term disability, and was waiting for my approval. That was fine with them as long as they didn’t have to keep paying me my regular wages. I discussed the possibility of using my bachelor of science in nursing degree to work in a different position which wouldn’t require as much physical demands upon my body as bedside nursing did. My head nurse said that she would check into it, but what occurred with that idea was that it was cheaper for the hospital for me to be on long term disability than for them to create a position for me.

Once I was on long term disability, I informed my insurance company of my willingness to work in a different position in the hospital, and of the hospital’s refusal to do so. I am a fighter for my rights, and if it means telling what has been told to me by my employer to my insurance company, then I will do so. It certainly did not positively reflect the hospital’s concern for their employees, and the insurance company was not impressed with the hospital’s decision. Fighting for our rights as people with fibromyalgia is very stressful, and sometimes we just give up. The Canadian health system is different than the United States, and I understand that it is more difficult to get any type of disability in the States. But, even in Canada, I have heard of people who have fibromyalgia, and are unable to get disability. I also have friends who have been cut off of long term disability and are left with no money and severe FMS symptoms.

I believe that the key to getting what we deserve when we are unable to work at any job is through our ability to be persistent and assertive, and having a doctor who understands fibromyalgia and is willing to fill out the forms needed in such a way that insurance companies can not dispute our pain, fatigue and inability to function at a regular job. I also believe in “working” the system. Sometimes, we have to be very strong in expressing ourselves to not only our doctors, but to the insurance companies. When I say that I am in pain, I am really in excruciating pain, and I refuse to allow someone in authority to dismiss me just because they can’t see my pain, or don’t understand FMS. Sometimes, we may even have to hire a lawyer in order to be heard, and although this is very expensive and extremely stressful, it may just prove to be the instrument that helps to set a precedence for others with FMS.

How exactly to have more Twitter Followers – 5 Ways to Build a larger Following

It seems like everyone is an expert on getting more Twitter followers these days. A majority of these people will, of course, teach you’re their techniques for building a giant Twitter following for a fee.

Some people claim that their software will help you build Twitter followers as well.

But while it would likely feel good to have a big Twitter following, this isn’t a sheer numbers game. It reminds me for the old times of online marketing, actually. Back then people who were building lists were just trying to get as many people as possible with little regard to the quality of the people on those lists.

For instance, back in 2003, I purchased a coregistration range of 100,000 opt-in emails. While it wasn’t spam because the individuals had indeed opted in, it wasn’t a quality list and it never became a profitable investment.


Considering I had no relationship with those individuals!

That’s everything you need to remember about Twitter. You’re still attempting to build a relationship. If all of the Tweets are some promotion for some affiliate product and that’s all you Tweet about, you aren’t going to find your Twitter marketing all that effective.

Just How To Have More Twitter Followers

Okay, now let’s get to your reason you’re probably reading this article, you want to know how to have more people following you on Twitter.

Tweet Regularly

Quite simply, if you’d like to get people to follow you, you have to have something to say. Some individuals are sending on tweets all day long every day. Personally, I think that’s a little excessive. I usually tweet somewhere in the neighborhood of 2-4 times on a daily basis usually sending out a mix of content and offers (more content than promotional offers)


You will need to customize you avatar and bio. If you want, you may even go thus far as to get a custom Twitter background as well. The background is additional but having a custom avatar (an image of you is recommended) and writing something innovative in your bio.


This will be another pretty easy way to build a following. Just follow other people. I follow individuals who I think I will be interested and who I think might be interested in the things I have to say as well. And I’m not afraid to unfollow someone if I find that their Tweets annoy me. For example, if somebody is essentially posting headline news, I’ll unfollow them immediately since I find news to be depressing and don’t wish to see it on my Twitter feed.

Put “Follow Me” Buttons On Your Own Blogs

If you blog (which you need to), then make sure you’re running a plugin of your latest activity or during the very least, put something into the sidebar to tell people to follow you.

Tell Your twitter followers

Here’s another easy way to have more followers if you already have a list. Tell them how exactly to follow you on Twitter. Keep in mind that Twittering doesn’t get blocked by ISPs and there’s no spam folder. Your messages always get through to everybody that is following you. And in case you’ve got multiple ways to contact people, you’re more prone to have them to know you, like you, trust you, and ultimately buy away from you.

Eyelid Plastic Surgery

Eyelid surgery, also known as Blepharoplasty, is a cosmetic surgery in which extra fat and skin around the eyes is being removed to create a better look.
The extra fat and puffy bags make the person look tired and older and sometimes can also cause some eye sight problems.
The Best Candidates for Eyelid Plastic Surgery:
The surgery suits men and women with good health. Most of the patients are over 35 years old, but younger people can also be operated if eyelid problems are genetic in their family.
The conditions which are suitable for operation:

Loose skin hanging from the upper eyelid onto the eye and might interfere the eye sight.
Puffy upper eyelid or puffy bags under the eyes.
Saggy lower eyelid that might cause the iris to show.

Eyelid Plastic Surgery Procedure:
In the eyelid surgery the surgeon make an incision in the fold of the upper eyelid or below the lushes on the lower eyelid. The incision made as camouflaged as possible. The skin is being separated from the tissues and muscles so the extra fat and skin can be removed and also the muscles are tightened.
After surgery is done the patient stays in the recovery room for a few hours for observation, sometimes the patient is required to stay overnight.

Risks of Eyelid Plastic Surgery:
The procedure is not complicated and if going to a certified, well known surgeon, there shouldn’t be any problem. Like in every surgery there might be some complications, such as: infections, reaction to the anesthesia, and bleedings, such as hematoma. Turn to your doctor if any of these occur.
Also after the surgery your eyes will be swollen and your vision will be blurry as a cause of the ointment used to calm and protect the eyes.

Tips for Eyelid Plastic Surgery:

For better results and to avoid any complications; choose a well known clinic and surgeon with good reputation.
Have someone come pick you up after the surgery because your vision will be blurry.
Try and keep your head as elevated as you can for a few days, avoid bending and lifting.
You will be able to get back to normal activities in about 10 days.
Don’t wear eye contacts for at least 2 weeks.
Use cold compresses to reduce the swelling on the eyes and to relax the area.
Relax and don’t over do for at least 5 days for better recovery and better results.
You can have a combined surgery to take care of the wrinkles and the crow’s feet all together, consult your surgeon about it.
Stop smoking 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after the eyelid surgery.

Ear Plastic Surgery

Ear surgery, also known as otoplasty, is a cosmetic surgery to correct the size of the ears or to get prominent ears closer to the head.
Prominent ears is a well known genetic phenomenon, it is a birth defect that happens at about the fourth month of pregnancy.
The procedure to correct the ear is made between the ages of 4-14; the ears are almost fully grown at the age of 4-6, so it is better to have it before the kid will have to suffer from any embarrassments.
The surgery can be made at any age; older people can also have the surgery.

Ear Plastic Surgery Procedure:
The ear defect is usually the lack of cartilage fold on the ear. Therefore in the surgery an incision is made behind the earpiece in order to take out some of the cartilage and create a fold.
The surgery takes about 1-3 hours, and the patient will need to stay for a few hours for observation. If the patient is really young sometimes he will be advised to stay overnight.
The ear will be bandages for a few days after the surgery and the stitches will be taken out after a few weeks. It is possible to get back to mild normal activities after 5-7 days. It is very important to watch the ears for about 1 month after the surgery for better recovery and healing.

Risk and complications of Ear Plastic Surgery:
Complications in this kind of surgery are infrequent when going to a certified clinic. Like in every other surgery some minor complications may occur: Bleedings, infection, scars, and blood clots.

Tips for Ear Plastic Surgery:

Choose the best known certified clinic for your child or for yourself. Don’t compromise.
Look for as much information as you can so you will know what to expect.
Ask the clinic and search the internet for before and after pictures to see what the results might be.
Talk to your surgeon about your expectations from the surgery and make sure he knows what you want, so if a reduction of the ear size is also needed, the surgeon will perform both procedures in one surgery.
After the Surgery you will get a headband to put every night for a month after the surgery, it is very important not to forget to put it so the ear won’t get back to its former position.
If you want your child to have the surgery, you need to be very alert to his feelings. He might not be ready for the change at an early age and then you should wait until he is ready so the process will be more successful.
Know that your ears will not be identical after the surgery, the surgeon will make the ears as symmetry as possible but like in nature the ears are never completely the same.
The ear surgery is for life time.

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