Empowering Parents To Teach- Five Books to Build Your Child's Character

Five Books to Build Your Child’s Character

Stories are a wonderful to way to transmit ideas to our children. With thoughtful selection, a good story can help parents build their child’s character in a positive way. Also, inspiring quotes and poems that make kids think about their own emotions and actions help children contemplate how their behavior makes others and themselves feel. To help nurture the good in our children, I found five books that parents can read and discuss with their kids.


To learn more about the books click on the pictures below. These are Amazon affiliate links, which means if you purchase the book on Amazon I receive a very small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. My purpose is not to sell these books, but to let you know what is out there to help you. Hopefully, you can find these at your local library!



Wise at Heart: Children and Adults Share Words of Wisdom by Brody Hartman


You don’t have to be old to be wise. In fact, through their innocent voices, children often provide profound wisdom that makes us remember what is important in life. Both children and adults share what they have learned about life in this clever compilation of quotes.



The Blessings of Friendship Treasury by Mary Engelbreit

Friendship is one of the most important relationships a child can have. This book gives a voice to the powerful emotions friendship elicits, reminding children how special friendship really is.



Have You Filled A Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud

This book is a staple in most classrooms as it gives kids a visual reference and understanding of what kindness does for ourselves and others.



Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Kids explore what it means to be compassionate, modest, optimistic, and polite along with many more character traits in this book.



Three Cups by Tony Townsley

Responsibility comes from having real responsibility. In this story, we see how a young boy learns to be responsible with his allowance under the guidance of his parents who teach him to spend, save, and give. He internalizes this idea as he grows until he becomes the responsible adult teaching his son the same lesson he learned.

Empowering Parents To Teach- Squbed

Squbed Game: Learning Squares and Cubes

When my son was in first grade he said to me that he wanted to learn “everything there is to know about math.”  He is now ten and his love of mathematics has not waned.  Mental math is of particular interest to him as he constantly challenges himself to solve math problems in his head.  To help him in his quest, I designed this very simple game to help him memorize squares and cubes of numbers up to twenty.  He wants to have these memorized so that he can tackle harder math problems mentally. I don’t even have these memorized, but he finds this kind of stuff fun, so I’m happy to help! If you have a kid who loves math, s/he may enjoy this game too :)



  • Squbed game boards (4 included)
  • Number cards
  • Squares and Cubes Guide
  • Beans or other small objects
  • Envelope to store the number cards
  • Print Squbed materials here
  • Note: Laminate materials if possible for durability


How to play:

1. Choose one Squbed game board.  This game can be played with up to four players.

2. Place the number cards in the envelope.

3. Players take turns picking out a number card randomly.  Each card contains a number squared or cubed.  For example, one card shows 2 squared. If a player has the equivalent value of the card (in this example: 4) the player should cover the square with a bean or other small object.




Empowering Parents To Teach- Squbed


4. The first player who covers his or her entire board first is the winner.



  • I included the square and cube guide to help facilitate play until the squares and cubes are memorized.
  • I made each board a different color so that your child can keep track of which board or boards he or she used. After playing four times, with the four different boards, all of the squares and cubes will have been practiced at least once.


Have fun!






I Can Read 100 Words

I Can Read 100 Words (with free printable chart and word cards)

I recently came across this article from the Guardian stating that there are 100 crucial words for kids to know when they are learning to read. Learning to read requires a knowledge of phonics not just sight word recognition, but this article focused on the optimal number of words that kids should learn to read by sight. The author includes a list of these 100 words, although I only counted 99 words! I included one more word in this activity to make it an even 100.


Whether you agree with the research or not, many of the words listed here also appear on lists that teachers already employ when teaching reading to students. Common lists used in classrooms include the Fry’s list or Dolch list. So the list in the article can be helpful as it aligns with these already accepted lists. If a child can read these 100 words, there are many easy reader books that a child can read. Once children begin reading books, they open the doorway to learning even more words. In all, I believe learning these 100 words are beneficial for beginning readers. With that in mind, I created a chart to track the words they have learned and word cards to help with daily practice.


Important note: This activity is for kids who are beginning to recognize words and are learning to read in a comprehensive reading program. It is not meant to be the primary way that your child learns how to read.  It is meant to bolster your child’s sight word recognition.  Suggested ages for this activity is kindergarten or above. Of course, some kids may be able to do this at a younger age, but it’s not intended for kids under five unless your child is showing signs of being an early reader. You know your child best!



  • 100 Word Chart (feel free to decorate it)
  • Word cards- print on cardstock if available
  • Click here to print I Can Read 100 Words chart and word cards
  • Construction paper if you want to create pockets to store the word cards
  • Pencil or pen for tally marks



This activity is very straight forward. It’s just good old fashion practice. Show your child the chart. Let your child know that if s/he can read 100 words than s/he can become a stronger reader. Every day your child will practice reading these words until he or she meets the goal of reading 100 words easily by sight. Not only are you helping your child with reading, you are showing your child how to set goals and work to achieve them. Here are the steps:


I Can Read 100 Words

Display the chart




I Can Read 100 Words

Cut out the words


1. Depending on your child’s age or ability choose a reasonable amount of words to practice every day.  My five year old and I practice about twenty a day.  I chose this amount because he already knows most of the words on the list, therefore practice goes quickly.  If your child does not know a lot of the words, choose a smaller amount so your child is not overwhelmed.


2. If you choose 10 words to start, show your child one word at a time. Have your child read the word out loud. If s/he gets it right, make a tally mark on the back of the card. If it was incorrect, do not. This is for you to keep track of how many times your child identifies the word.


I Can Read 100 Words


I Can Read 100 Words



3. Take the cards that your child got wrong and tell your child what the word is. Have your child repeat the word a couple of times while looking at it. When I work with my son I call these the “learning words”.  I get excited and say, “Yay, we have a word we can practice!” For additional practice, I share some suggestions of how to reinforce these words at the end of this article.


4. The next day you can test the same words or a mixture of previously used words and new ones (until all words are seen). This will depend on your child. If s/he got a lot right, you may want to add a couple of new ones. Once again, add a tally mark to the back of the card if your child got the word right.


5. Once your child has identified a word five separate times (as noted by the tally marks) write the word on the 100 chart. You’ll need to write small! It’s important that your child can recognize the words multiple times so that you know s/he knows that word and isn’t just guessing. This is another reason why changing the order of word presentation is important. And, you don’t have to show the same words every time. The more your word order or word presentation becomes the same, the less your child has to work to identify the word. You can even throw words that your child already mastered in the mix. You don’t want to make things too predictable. The whole point of this exercise is to make sure that your child can identify these words in a book within varied contexts, not just on a word card.


I Can Read 100 Words


6. Keep the process going every day of showing your child ten words (or the quantity you decided) until s/he has mastered them all. This may take some time. Acting as a teacher or coach, you can remind your child that they can accomplish this, it just takes time and effort. As a parent you know your child best, if this activity is really too hard for him or her then it may be best to wait and try again later. Some children love this kind of activity and some don’t, this isn’t for every child. Follow your instinct on if this is a reasonable goal for your child.


7. You do not need to incentivize this activity. Meaning, you do not have to offer a reward when your child learns all 100 words. Part of this activity is learning the value of reaching a goal. Hopefully, your child will feel intrinsically rewarded by his or her achievement. If you do feel the need to reward your child’s work, I strongly suggest making a natural reward such as letting your child choose a book at a book store. His or her “reward” is the ability to read that book! Your child is learning that reading can be rewarding in itself :)


Ways to practice sight words:

1. Read easy books.

Empowering Parents to Teach- 15 Really Easy To Read Books See our list of really easy to read books (click here). Read them to your child or have your child read them to you. Draw attention to any of the sight words your child is learning.




2. Color or decorate the word.

DIYGcolor Make your own printables (click here to see how). For example, is your child practicing the word, “away”? Create a printable with the word, “away”. Your child can color it in, put stickers on it, use do a dot paint, or any artsy thing s/he can imagine.




3. Play sight word hide and seek.

IMG_0767 Play this easy game (click here) using the words included in this post.





4. Make sentences.

Empowering Parents to Teach- Sentence Making Find sentences containing words that your child needs to practice and try this activity (click here to see the full activity).





5. Display the words

Empowering Parents to Teach- Sight Word TreeSo that your child can see the words on a daily basis, make a word display. This can be simple or you get creative. Our sight word tree is one example of a word display (click here to see). Think of fun ways for your child to interact with the word display. For example, since we used a tree I can make leaves fall from the tree and have my child collect the leaves and state the words on the leaves as he does it.



6. Sight Word Memory

Print two copies of the words and make a sight word memory game using the words that your child is working on!


7. Meet the Sight Words books

My son liked reading these books.  They helped build his confidence and sight word recognition. If you click on the picture, you can purchase them on Amazon. This is an affiliate link, which means I make a very small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you! Thank you for your support :)

Make Ten

Hands-on Math: Make Ten (with free printable materials)

Ten is a special number. Because we use a base ten math system, it is important for kids to have a good understanding of ‘ten’. What does ten look like? What are its parts? For parents, I have included links at the bottom of this post to three articles about the importance of ten. I encourage you to read them before you try the activity with your child. They are incredibly informative and can help you guide your child at home.


A good working knowledge of ‘ten’ helps students with mental math.


One way teachers help students gain this ten knowledge is with ten frames and dot cards. Both of these visual devices help students conceptualize the number ten.  Ten frames typically look like a small 5 by 2 chart with five squares on the top and five on the bottom, all conjoined. Dots cards are simply different arrangements of dots on a piece of paper or flashcard.


In this activity, students will use a ten frame variation. The framework I created uses the same 5 by 2 arrangement. Instead of conjoined squares, I used circles. Think of it as a merger of the ten frame squares and the dot cards.



1. Dot frame (laminate if possible)

2. Number cards- two sets in two different colors (laminate if possible)

3. Record Page

4. Bear counters or other small object (preferably using two different colors)

5. Pencil

6. Small bowls for bears and one set of numbers

Dot frame, number cards, and record page can be printed FREE from here: Make Ten Printables.



1. Present your child with the materials. Show him or her the materials and count the circles together. Let your child know that s/he is going to use these materials to figure out what numbers can add together to make the number ten.


Red bowl: Red bears   Purple bowl: Purple bears Pink bowl: Red numbers

Red bowl: Red bears
Blue bowl: Blue bears
Pink bowl: Red numbers


2. Have your child choose a number from the bowl.

3. Place the number in the first dashed rectangle.


Make Ten


4. Have your child place the corresponding number of bears in the circles starting on the top left, filling the circles from left to right, top to bottom. *Note: The bears should all be the same color to distinguish this set of bears from the set they will use in another step.


Make Ten


5. Have your child fill in the empty circles with a second color of bears.




6. Have your child count or subitize (quickly recognize the number quantity without the need to count) the second group of bears.


7. Have your child place the corresponding numeral in the second dashed rectangle.





8. Have your child record the number combination on his or her record sheet.


Use math language. The two numbers that your child is finding are called addends. In this example, the 3 and 7 are addends.



Make Ten


9. Continue this procedure until all of the number cards have been used. Keep recording!



Once your child is ready to move past the concrete stage of manipulating the math bears, you can take away the bears and practice using just the number cards. Line up one set of numbers. Have your child pull out a number from the cup and match it with the addend that would make ten.


Make Ten


Make Ten


Make Ten


Is it getting easy? Your child may have the ten pairs memorized. Now you can simply give your child a number orally and ask what number s/he would add to make ten.  This will only take a minute or two. Ask your child to do this every day until you think she or he has them solidly memorized. This will make mental math easier :)



Don’t forget to read these articles first:

1. Number Sense Series: Developing Early Number Sense from  NRICH (click here)

2. Number Sense Series: A Sense of ‘ten’ and Place Value from NRICH (click here)

3. Ten Frames and Dot Cards from K-5 Math Teaching Resources (click here)  Great game suggestions too!


Remember, have fun together and follow your child’s lead! It’s ok if your child does things a little differently.  With the knowledge you’ve learned from these articles you will know what is important and why.  Focus on the big picture. There are many paths to understanding, trust your child and trust yourself.
Linked to:

Montessori Monday




Empowering Parents to Teach- The Three Books That Taught My Kids to Read

The Three Books That Taught My Kids To Read

There are three books that I have to credit with helping my children learn to read.  They are all part of the Beginner Books Series from Random House. While we have an enormous amount of books in our house, these three stick out to me. Through simple language, rhyming, repetition, and fun illustrations, my children read these over and over again. Today, I’d love to share these with you. If you are looking to add books to your home library I suggest you add these! Usually, I would suggest getting books form the library, but these I recommend buying to have at home so your child can read them many times. You can purchase them from the links* in this post or at your local book store.


Hop on Pop by Dr. Suess

(click on picture to purchase on Amazon)


How this book helps: This book relies heavily on rhyming.  Hearing rhymes helps children detect patterns in our language.  When the child starts reading, seeing these patterns in print helps the child relate the sound patterns to how they look in writing.  The rhyming words are first isolated so it’s very easy to draw attention to the word endings and how they look the same. Afterwards, children see the word used in a very short rhyming sentence.  It gives the child immediate practice recognizing the word in context.

This book  was one of the first books my oldest read out loud when he was little.


Put Me In The Zoo by Robert Lopshire


(click on the purchase to purchase on Amazon)

How this book helps: The rhyming in this books helps the child anticipate what word may come next.  It also uses a lot of the same words through out the story. This gives the child practice reading the words over and over again, helping to commit the words to memory.

This book was one of the first books that my youngest liked to read out loud.


Go, Dog, Go by P.D. Eastman


(click on the picture to purchase on Amazon)


How this book helped: This book does not rhyme, but it does uses a lot of the same words over and over again.  This helps the child rely more on the context of the story than the rhyming pattern. The pictures help the child figure out tricky words; for example, if the child has trouble reading the word “three”, s/he can count the number of dogs in the picture.


Before my kids attempted to read these books independently, I read them out loud to the boys many times. This gave them an understanding of the story and let them hear the words used.  What I like about these books is that they are long, so the child will not likely memorize the whole entire story. While memory of the story is involved, they still have to use their reading skills.


If you are still not sure if your child is reciting a story from memory or really reading try two things. One, have the child point to the words as s/he reads. Are the words matching? That’s a good sign. Is your child’s finger running over the words too quickly or slowly? Then, s/he may be reciting from memory.  Two, after your child reads a sentence ask him or her to point to a word. For example, after reading the sentence A green dog on a yellow tree ask your child, “Where is the word yellow?” Can s/he find the word? That’s another good sign that s/he is using a reading skill!


Enjoy reading together :)

Empowering Parents to Teach- Three Books


For more easy to read books, check out this list: 15 Really Easy To Read Books for the Beginning Reader