I like to get each of the kids at least one "educational" toy or book each Christmas. My 2010 reading goal for Mia is to have her sounding out simple three letter words by the time she turns five. For her for Christmas, I chose a Melissa and Doug Deluxe Wooden Stringing Beads set. It comes with over 200 beads, and shoelaces to string them on. She was eager to spell family names (with careful help). Then she wanted to spell "Mat sat on a rat." It was her idea. I wonder how she came up with something basic and phonetic out of the blue. I talked about spacing between words, and encouraged her to use the flowers to separate the words.