First, you need to make sure that the temperature of the wet ingredients are hot but not too hot. The temperature is similar to how hot a hot tube gets. I know that that is a funny thing to compare it to but it helps me. You can tell that the yeast is good (alive) and that the temp of the water is correct when you combine them and the yeast starts to bubble.
Second, adding flour. One of my favorite bread recipes calls for 6 cups of flour. I add it slowly until the dough is the right consistency. The dough should be sticky but not sticky enough that the batter comes off on your fingers when you touch it. This sometimes means that you don't add all of the flour it calls for. When I am making bread I don't use measuring cups. I just dump until the dough is to that perfect consistency.
Third, After you have all of your ingredients together don't forget to knead the bread for a good 5 to 10 minutes. Then stick the dough in a bowl next to the warm oven and cover with a clean damp cloth. The heat from the oven will help the bread to rise and the damp cloth will keep it from drying out.
Fourth, Let your bread rise for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The longer you let it rise the lighter your bread will be.
Once you master bread you can make so many different things. You can make cinnamon rolls, bread sticks, Pizza, dinner rolls, pigs in a blanket, orange rolls, scones, etc. Bread is one of my favorite things to make. - Melissa