Fun & Frugal Reading & Writing Resources

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First, I want to start with the most important thing about reading instruction–realize that not every child is going to learn to read a certain way, or by a certain age. Be willing to follow their pace, and if you’re homeschooling, be willing to adapt your instruction and methods.

So, here are some of the {frugal} things  we have used for reading and ABC’s around here. The reason this is a frugal list is because these items aren’t necessarily the things that are research-proven, or things that I have purposely selected. They are things that I have used because they were given to us, or we got them on the cheap at goodwill, etc. Use what you have–including your local library!


One of the most important things you can do for reading is READ to your child! We have a ton of great books, and we read often to our children. I love paperback swap, and you can also see some other ways I get free/cheap books. I couldn’t even begin to list our favorites, we have soooo many! I can, however, list a few of our favorite alphabet specific books. And again, this list isn’t exhaustive by any means. It’s just a list of what we like because it’s what we have. There are lots of other things that look great, and I’m sure you have your own favorites you could add to the list. I personally think this one and this one look very fun! Borrow them from the library for free.

1. Chicka Chicka Boom Boom–Such a fun book!
2. The Letters are Lost–we love this one!
3. The Beetle Alphabet Book–Honestly? This one is dull, dry, boring, and awful. But apparently someone forgot to tell my kids that, because they love it and request it often.
4. I Spy Letters–my boys really enjoy I spy books :)
5. On Market Street–another fun one!


If I had to pick just ONE thing to use in our school, it would be games. All kinds of games. Kids learn through playing. Here are some that we love.

1. Scrabble, Jr. We LOVE this game! It has been great for teaching letters and beginning reading/spelling, etc. And it’s one of those games that I actually enjoy playing with them (as opposed to the ones I play just because I want to spend time with them).

2. Alphabet Bingo. I got this at the target $1 spot, and it was a great investment. My boys have enjoyed playing, and there are so many variations to it.

3. Leap Frog Fridge Phonics.  A friend gave us this when her children outgrew it, and my boys have enjoyed playing with it.

4. The Reading Game. This game is great! You can read my full review here. Make your own version with words you’re currently learning–all you need is some index cards.

5. Homemade Games. We have a ton of homemade games! We have foam lacing letters that I cut out from foam sheets. We have little foam circles that I wrote letters on and my boys use them to spell out words from their site words cards. We use popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners (or modeling clay) to make letters. Pinterest is a gold mine of ideas!

6. Electronic Games. There are tons of great free sites like and others. You can also download free games and apps for your phone, ipad, etc. We also have a leapster and an innotab that my sister got my boys for Christmas, and they have educational games that include reading/ABC’s practice.

7. ABC Bean Bag Toss. This is a great game for little ones who are learning letter recognition and sounds.


I use the term “curriculum” very loosely! We do have a curriculum that I was given to review and we use it because we love it. Otherwise we do what we do best–we make do.  Here are some of the things we’ve enjoyed using.

1. All About Reading. This is the program we received for review purposes, and it has been great. It is phonics based and hands-on. I liked Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, but it was boring and we both dreaded it. AAR has a similar approach, but it is more hands on, and more fun.

2. Dry Erase Boards & Markers. Markers are a novelty around here, so the boys love playing with their dry erase boards, books, and markers. They got this crayola set for Christmas 2012 and it has been great and very durable. I got some dry erase board books from the Target $1 spot at back-to-school time a couple years ago and we have enjoyed those, as well as workbooks  I have made from sheet protectors and worksheets.

3. WorkbooksI LOVE The Dollar Tree! I have purchased many workbooks similar to this one, for $1 there!  I have also purchased a couple other comprehensive kindergarten workbooks either from Amazon or Walmart.

4. Printables. The internet can be a beautiful thing! You can find tons of great printable activities for FREE. Again, pinterest is a great resource for this! Here is one of my favorite sites for reading info and a free curriculum.

The biggest thing I want you to take away is that you do not need expensive curriculum to teach your children to read (or anything else for that matter!). You can use what you already have on hand, with a few small investments as you can and create a great learning environment for your child!

Other Resources

I have a couple of reading and literacy related printables in my shop. They are no longer free, but since you can print them and re-use them as much as you want for your family, they are a great value.


  1. Kari J. says

    Crystal — I don’t keep a Facebook account, so I can’t “like” this. :o( I’d gladly give it a +1 on Google+, though! Do you offer any other options for acquiring this wonderful ice cream themed literacy freebie? My 2 youngest girls would love it! Thanks.

    • Crystal Brothers says

      Kari, I am on G+ and would love for you to share there :) (+Crystal Brothers). You can either message me there or send me an email at Crystal (at) serving joyfully (dot) com and I will get you the printable :)

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