A Brief History of English Spelling

Ever wonder where our English language came from, and how/why our spelling rules have evolved over the centuries? The PhonicsRoad.com offers some answers to the mystery in a neat little ebook “A Brief History of English Spelling” by Barbara Beers. The English language is rich with the vocabulary based on many languages, and armed with this brief history, you can know the secrets of many of our word origins and spellings.

Click here to go to the download page

Diagnostic Reading Surveys

ReallyGreatReading.com offers a set of Diagnostic Decoding Surveys that are an easy and efficient way to detect when students are having word-level reading difficulties, and pinpoint their specific decoding weaknesses.

Their two most popular surveys are the Beginning and Advanced Decoding Surveys:

The Beginning Decoding Survey assesses how well students are reading words they should have mastered by the end of first grade:

  • High frequency words
  • Single syllable words with short vowels, digraphs, and two-sound blends

The Advanced Decoding Survey assesses the decoding skills students should have mastered by the end of third grade:

  • Single syllable words with short vowels and more advanced phonics patterns (e.g. trigraphs, three-sound blends)
  • Single syllable words with advanced vowel patterns
  • Multisyllable words (real and nonsense)

Click here to go to the download page, where you’ll find these surveys and several other basic reading skills resources.

Tom Sawyer in Comics


Here’s a great comic book adaptation of Mark Twain’s immortal story, from the golden age of comics. This is a very faithful, well-done version of the story and a neat way to introduce readers to this timeless classic!

To download this large (38 meg) PDF ebook, RIGHT CLICK HERE and “save” to your pc. Mac users, press the “control” key and click the link, then save to your mac.


A Poem to think about Today: Words are Wonderful Things

Words are Wonderful Things

Keep a watch on your words, my darling,
For words are wonderful things;

They are sweet like the bees’ fresh honey,
Like the bees they have terrible stings;

They can bless like the warm, glad sunshine,
And brighten a lonely life;

They can cut, in the strife of anger,
Like an open, two-edged knife.

  • E. R. Miller

A Poem to think about today: The Cow Path

The Cow Path
by Sam Walter Foss


One day, through the primeval wood,
A calf walked home, as good calves should;


But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail as all calves do.
Since then three hundred years have fled,
And, I infer, the calf is dead.
But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale.
The trail was taken up next day,
By a lone dog that passed that way.
And then a wise bell-wether sheep,
Pursued the trail o’er vale and steep;
And drew the flock behind him too,
As good bell-wethers always do.
And from that day, o’er hill and glade.
Through those old woods a path was made.


And many men wound in and out,
And dodged, and turned, and bent about;
And uttered words of righteous wrath,
Because ’twas such a crooked path.
But still they followed – do not laugh –
The first migrations of that calf.
And through this winding wood-way stalked,
Because he wobbled when he walked.


This forest path became a lane,
that bent, and turned, and turned again.
This crooked lane became a road,
Where many a poor horse with his load,
Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
And traveled some three miles in one.
And thus a century and a half,
They trod the footsteps of that calf.


The years passed on in swiftness fleet,
The road became a village street;
And this, before men were aware,
A city’s crowded thoroughfare;
And soon the central street was this,
Of a renowned metropolis;
And men two centuries and a half,
Trod in the footsteps of that calf.


Each day a hundred thousand rout,
Followed the zigzag calf about;
And o’er his crooked journey went,
The traffic of a continent.
A Hundred thousand men were led,
By one calf near three centuries dead.
They followed still his crooked way,
And lost one hundred years a day;
For thus such reverence is lent,
To well established precedent.


A moral lesson this might teach,
Were I ordained and called to preach;
For men are prone to go it blind,
Along the calf-paths of the mind;
And work away from sun to sun,
To do what other men have done.
They follow in the beaten track,
And out and in, and forth and back,
And still their devious course pursue,
To keep the path that others do.
They keep the path a sacred groove,
Along which all their lives they move.
But how the wise old wood gods laugh,
Who saw the first primeval calf!
Ah! many things this tale might teach –
But I am not ordained to preach.

(Suggested by Linda Simonson)

Maps & Globes Lesson Library

World Maps Online offers a huge collection of graded lesson plans for students from K-12 on how to read, use and interpret maps and globes. These short lessons and activities cover both US Maps and World Maps, and include history-based lessons, latitude and longitude, time, population, culture, hands on ideas, literature-based lessons and more. Lessons can be viewed online or downloaded as PDFs. There is a lot more here than you would think. Great resource!

Click here to go to their lesson plan page!