Friday Freewrite: Valentine’s Day Giraffe Style?

Friday Freewrite

It’s Valentine’s Day on the savanna. What are these two lovebirds, er, lovegiraffes saying to each other?

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.

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Just So Stories Experience

Just So Stories Success!

Brave Writer mom Audria writes:


My family loved the online Just So Stories class. I can hardly put into words how positive this experience has been for us. I just wanted to share about it on my blog and just let y’all know how delighted I am to have found Brave Writer.

Thank you very much,


Here’s an excerpt from Audria’s awesome post:

We spent the month of January in the Just So Stories online family class. The goal of the course was for each child to write a little tale based on Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories. Ms. April gave us assignments and guided the kids in crafting their very own Kiplingesque short story. Our instructor proved not only to be a writing instructor to my kids but also a coach for me. Observing her interactions with my crew I learned how to walk my own children through the writing process…read more.

Brave Writer Just So Stories Online Writing Class

Happy Birthday, E. L. Konigsburg!

From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler ARROW SALE

Today is author Elaine Lobl Konigsburg’s birthday and to celebrate, we’re making a special offer! The Arrow for her novel, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, is:

HALF PRICE through Friday, Feb. 12, 2016 at Midnight EST! ($4.95)

Hannah Hayes, Brave Writer student and former intern, writes:

In preparation for family road trips, my mom, brother, and I would eagerly search the library shelves for audio books. Without fail, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, would be weeded from the sea of plastic cases and invariably placed in a prominent place atop overflowing piles to be listened to first.

It came as no surprise to me to find the tell-tale Newberry Medal upon the cover for the award is well deserved. This book remains a sheer classic—it was as compelling each time for my parents as it was for my child-self. And with each retelling, it only got better. That, to me is proof of its power.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler is a story about the adventures of childhood and the lessons the characters discover on the runaway road of growing up. Without giving too much away before you read this gem for yourself, here are some of my favorite quotes:

“The eyes are the windows of the soul… If someone was to look into your eyes, what would you want them to see?”

“But lying in bed just before going to sleep is the worst time for organized thinking; it is the best time for free thinking. Ideas drift like clouds in an undecided breeze, taking first this direction and then that.”

“Claudia knew that she could never pull off the old-fashioned kind of running away. That is, running away in the heat of anger with a knapsack on her pack. She didn’t like discomfort; even picnics were untidy and inconvenient: all those insects and the sun melting the icing on the cupcakes. Therefore, she decided that her leaving home would not be just running from somewhere but would be running to somewhere.”

I know that this book will be considered the icing on the cake in your collection as you delight in the words of E.L. Konigsburg time and time again.

So, celebrate E. L. Konigsburg birthday and take advantage of our special offer!

Also, if you’d like to buy a copy of the novel, it’s available through Amazon: From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (affiliate link).

The Arrow is a monthly digital product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel. It’s geared toward children ages 8-11 and is an indispensable tool for parents who want to teach language arts in a natural, literature-bathed context.

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Poetry Teatime: Dreamy

Poetry Teatime

Hi, Julie,

Thank you so much for the wonderful idea of poetry teatimes; we’ve been loving this new addition to our week. I run a family child care program as well as homeschooling my 6-year-old daughter. This year, I dropped down to only 3 kids enrolled on Mondays, so we can all fit into my car. We’ve been going hiking those mornings, coming home for nap, and getting up to have poetry teatime. What a dreamy day!

Here’s a photo from yesterday’s teatime. I don’t usually crowd the table so much, but my daughter wanted to prominently display all the (slightly burned) popovers, because “you bake the best things, mama!” She is making her “proper British face” to go with the tea, while 2-year-old Josie wonders what the heck she’s doing.

Another favorite part of the photo: “The Big Golden Book of Little Verses,” a vintage copy which I gave her as a Christmas gift after we saw a Mary Blair exhibit at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. She was thrilled with it. Like the baking, it’s all tied to warm, connected memories.

:-) Lise

Want to start your own Poetry Teatime? Here’s how.

Would you like your family featured on Tuesday Teatime? Email us your teatime photos with a few lines about your experience (put “Teatime” in the subject line). If we share on our blog then you’ll receive a free Arrow or Boomerang title of your choice (once per family). Note: all submissions fall under Creative Commons licensing.

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Deep investigation led by fascination

Deep investigation led by fascination

Shared this on BraveScopes:

Turner Classic Movies did a marathon of Emma Thompson films last night. We caught the end of “Much Ado About Nothing” (always a family favorite!) and then watched in full “Sense and Sensibility.” S&S will always be special to me. It was a breakthrough in my homeschool—an epiphany moment! I watched it, then I watched it with the kids, then I read the book, then I read some of it aloud to my kids, then I read Emma Thompson’s book where she writes about making the film and writing the screenplay (fabulous~!), then I read parts of that to my kids, then I discovered that she and the actors wrote each other letters in character to help deepen their acting, so we did that in our family.

Then I checked out the soundtrack to the music and we used it for our copywork time. It became my most checked out CD from the library in all the years I took the kids there (I never bought it—no money for that!). That soundtrack led to listening to soundtracks. This became a “thing” in our homeschool and to this day, Jacob still shares soundtracks with us (and his love of classical music bloomed as a result).

Finally, I received the DVD as a Christmas stocking gift one year and the Jane Austen set of novels (several times…haha).

I found myself watching all the Emma Thompson films, I became acquainted with Ang Lee films (he’s the director of S&S and so I watched “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman” –Chinese subtitles first, and then most of his films like “The Ice Storm,” “The Wedding Banquet,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “Brokeback Mountain” [my favorite], and “Life of Pi”).

Because of S&S, I became familiar with amazing actors: Kate Winslet (before “Titanic”), Hugh Grant in a more serious role, Alan Rickman (RIP—Snape!), Hugh Laurie, Imelda Stauton, Greg Wise, and more. We found ourselves looking for more films that featured these actors, the director, and so on. I wound up reading “Emma” to Johannah at night before bed and she went on to write a novella set in the Civil War based on the story-line of Emma. Our Jane Austen love affair led to our Vintage Dance experience. Our enjoyment of Emma Thompson in “Much Ado About Nothing” fueled our Shakespeare habit.

I wanted to share this with you because as I was watching the film last night, this flood of memories came to me and I saw in a way I couldn’t while it was happening, the richness that came from one film, one deep investigation led by my fascination, my craving for romance and British accents, and great acting and writing.

This is what home education IS. Last night I missed it so much, it almost hurt. I beat back tears several times as the actors uttered lines that had become family favorites (Fannie is PRICELESS “I am the soul of discretion” and “I will be as silent as the grave” and so is Mrs. Jennings—”I’ll find something to tempt her. Does she like olives?”).

As you build your family lives, you are bringing a kind of education that DEFIES planning. Know what I mean? It’s the “way leads on to way” education.

Embrace it.


And here’s the scope that accompanied these thoughts:

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