A Brave Writer’s Life in Brief

Thoughts from my jungle to yours

Friday Freewrite: If you lost your memory

NaaD 45 Christa -blog

Today’s writing prompt is a twist on one by Homeschoolingmom4two:

If you lost your memory and couldn’t remember your friends and family, what could they do and where might they take you to remind you of the relationships.

Image by Brave Writer mom, Christa (cc)

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.

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It all counts


Today’s thought: It all counts

The dish washing,
the foot rubbing,
the tub bathing,
the skip counting in the car,
the singing at the tops of your lungs together off key,
the carefully copied passage,
the shopping for groceries,
the spontaneous walk in the neighborhood,
the sorting the laundry into the right colored piles,
the charging of the dead phone,
the pause to text your sick mother-in-law,
the five minutes you take to regroup,
the gentle way you overlooked your child’s Big Mess,
the fifth book read after lunch when you usually only read three,
the naps (oh yes, the naps count!),
the petting of the dog,
the recitation of a few historical facts,
the listening carefully when your child explains how to beat level five,
the eye contact,
the cuddles,
the enthusiastic cheer for small successes and big ones,
the science experiment you finally got through with all the right ingredients,
the trampoline jumping,
the needed and taken break…

This stuff also counts:

The short word,
the worry,
the rushing,
the aimlessness that takes over when exhausted,
the bickering,
the harsh tone when a child is simply being a child,
the endless pages of material a child already knows,
the push, push, push to work harder on what a child isn’t ready for,
the conversations with a spouse overheard by the child,
the missed opportunities to play,
the loss of contact with a teen,
the blankness that sets in when sick of homeschooling,
the lost moment when a child was excited but you were distracted,
the anxiety that something’s wrong,
the blues,
the bad math book that you spent too much on,
the co-op where a bully mistreats your one child,
the not-taken, much-needed break…

You get to choose what will count in your homeschool.

Cross-posted on facebook. Image © Martin Novak | Dreamstime.com

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Movie Wednesday: Watch a film adaptation


In Reading the Movies, William Costanzo notes that it has been estimated that a third of all films ever made were adapted from novels. If you count other literary forms, such as drama or short stories, that estimate might well be 65 percent or more. Nearly all of the classic works students study in high school have been adapted for film, some several times in several different eras. —From PBS’s Adaption from Novel to Film

It can be fascinating to see favorite characters from a book spring to life on screen. Whether we like the adaptation or not, it can give us insights into the story that we didn’t see before.

Here’s a helpful list of children’s books that have been made into films. After you’ve read the book and watched the movie adaptation, you might discuss:

What were the similarities and differences between the book and the film?

Did the cast fit the characters in the book?

If you’d been the director, what changes would you have made?

Were there scenes in the movie that were better than in the book?

Imagine that the author and the screenwriter met for dinner. What might they say to each other?

Happy adaptation watching!

Also, this winter we are offering a twofer movie club!

  • Four movies about Brave Girls, four about Gutsy Boys (and a number of titles are adaptations!)
  • Two movie clubs united by their intrepid protagonists.
  • Sign up for one or…
  • Join both clubs and save!

Click here for more information about our upcoming Movie Discussion Club!

Image by Emily Hildebrand (cc cropped)

Need help commenting meaningfully on plot, characterization, make-up and costumes, acting, setting and even film editing? Check out our eleven page guide, Brave Writer Goes to the Movies. Also, tell us about a film you and your kids watched together (along with a pic if you have one) and if we share it on the blog you’ll receive a FREE copy!

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Tuesday Teatime: Unleashing their voices


The simple things. This is year two of doing our weekly Friday morning tea time of reading and free writing with also a sweet treat to savor during our time of reflection and sharing. Some of our Fridays, the eager girls come to the table dressed in a role (strollers, baby dolls, pretend glasses) as their props for writing. The creativity of what our Fridays look like are endless fun. These are sacred moments, and despite if our week is a whirlwind (Oh, how that can happen with 4 young ones!) there is great anticipation the night before as they set out their journals and selected books in preparation for our Friday morning. We have collected various pieces of writings of poems and stories together from these cherished Fridays that is “our family book of writings” in the making. There is much value in the words from a page, the creation from the pencil, and a voice. We all have a story to be told. What these children have to say is worth to be heard, and I’m grateful I get to experience their story in the making every Friday. We talk a lot about how their voice and creativity has importance, and with time, craft, and patience, that voice can be unleashed and used for mighty things.

We enjoy making a dramatic drum roll when whoever is up in turn to share what they wrote. We end with lots of applause and encouragement for being brave with sharing their thoughts. Our 4 1/2 year old started referring this year to herself as “a writer.” She sure is, I tell her! She is recognizing that even at her young age, she too, has an important voice to be heard. Her journal is filled with scribbles of pictures and letters that all tell her story. When she sits up so proudly to share during our ritual every Friday morning tea, she looks down to her collage of pictures from her journal. and confidently shares. I record every word from that precious mouth. I re-read aloud what she narrated, and she will often say, “I wrote that!” My oldest now writes freely with limitless creativity, and my kindergartner doesn’t feel restrained since she can’t spell many words yet; she picks up the pencil and intently carries on drawing and sharing her writings. I record and re-read what my preschooler and kindergarten share, and their faces light up with such joy to hear their story being told.

Beautiful thoughts and words start early on. There just needs to be endless opportunities to unleash it. My hope is that my children discover some of their voice on this journey during our Friday mornings of writings.

Kirsten Casper, Brave Writer fan, mom to four children who have voices to be unleashed: 2nd grader, kindergartner, preschooler, & 9 month old)

Image (cc)

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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Two ways to grow teens

Rolling thunder!

Teens present a challenge to parents who are used to the cozy snuggly younger years of wide-eyed curiosity about lady bugs. Teens can become bored by the wonder of the world around them as they navigate the far-more-interesting-to-them inner world of their thoughts, emotions, and yearnings.

That first teen—how I pity her or him! Parents don’t want to be awakened from the dreamland of their perfect, precious child. They want to prolong innocence and enchantment.

Teens want risk and adventure. They want to prove to themselves that one day, they will in fact be competent adults who live in the world outside the living room walls. They can’t know that they will be successful in that world until they get their hands on it—until they are out in it!

How do we—the anxious parents of these gawky, voice-changing, hair-growing, newly curvy bodies—give them what they need without panic and anxiety?

There are two critical pathways to the expansion of self:

1. Witness
2. Encounter


One way to grow is to increase your exposure to a world that is different from your familiar one. We adults do that every day by reading the news, or watching television, or listening to radio. We “witness” the events from around the globe via film or satellite, we read interesting discussions about those events, we listen to interviews with people who live in the midst of those events, and we receive stories through movies, memoirs, and novels of people who live very differently from us. This “witness” to the experiences of others expands our worldview and rearranges what we understand as normative or important. We discover our values differently when they are held up next to the values of others (whether those others live down the street or across an ocean).

For teens—they “witness” a larger world in much the same ways, if they are given the chance! They have the Internet—which offers them Twitter, Facebook, bulletin boards for affinity-related discussion, news organizations, blogs like Tumblr, and more. It’s easy to want to limit the use of the Internet, but it’s almost impossible to do so successfully (teens can work around just about any limit you set). It’s even better to create conversation around what they learn there and to be a willing conversation partner for the cognitive growth that is happening at breakneck speed in that space.

They also witness the larger world through novels and films. These two vehicles help teens to absorb the motivations and complexities of being human in unfamiliar (or very familiar!) contexts. They can read, take time off, read more, and process it all safely at home with you.

Witness provides teens with a chance to explore unfamiliar territory at arm’s length. The experience is under their control. They can shut down the computer, they can turn off the television, they can close the book. They are free to sample or deep dive, to agree or disagree without consequence to their life’s situation.


Encounter is the more challenging, more impacting way to grow. Encounter is not at arm’s length. Encounter means being overwhelmed (all five senses) with the experience so that you can’t escape it nor package and manage it. For instance, you might “witness” what life is like in Iran by reading a book like Reading Lolita in Tehran. But to encounter life in Tehran, one would have to go and stay there! Travel is one level of encounter (visiting a place for a short stay). An extended stay working in a foreign country is another level of encounter. Moving to live in a foreign country is the most intense form of encounter.

In terms of raising teens, encounter can look a few ways. It is meeting someone who embodies whatever life experience and values are his or hers (that differ from your own). It is befriending someone who comes from a different background. It is visiting the sites where other views take place (for instance, going to a temple for a visit when you are studying about that religion, especially when it is not your religion; another example—visiting a plantation in the South when you grew up in the North hating plantations as representations of slavery).

Encounter is eating the food, hearing/speaking the language, wearing the clothing, adopting the customs.

Encounter is deliberately putting yourself in the uncomfortable position of being with someone different from yourself and allowing that experience to impact you.

We help our teens grow when we give them both opportunities. They love risk and adventure! When you allow them to develop affinities, to explore their curiosities, and to meet/know people who are different from them, you help their brains! They will experience the kind of cognitive growth critical to being critical thinkers and healthy adults!

Cater to their natural inclination to take “thought-risks” and put them in contact with material and people who challenge their assumptions. Celebrate the results (whatever they may be!). Remember: no teen retains the values developed at 14 and 17. Are you today the same person you were at 15? I doubt it.

Everyone adopts positions to try on like shoes when they are teens. So let them adopt away! If you create space for a teen to imagine herself into a viewpoint, she will also have space to move through and out of it too, if she gets more and new information from witnessing or encountering!

It’s an exciting time to parent, if not a little nerve-wracking at times. Try not to grip too tightly, and enjoy the ride.

Cross-posted on facebook. Image by Lin Pernille Photography LLC (cc text added)

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Friday Freewrite: Touch

Friday Freewrite - Touch

Today’s writing prompt is inspired by Brave Writer’s Keen Observation exercise with a focus on touch:

Choose three items (can be natural or man-made), close your eyes, and explore what each feels like. Record your thoughts then compare and contrast the items. And feel free to use similes: “This one feels like…”

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.

Images by martinak15, LearningLark, and Graham Milldrum (cc photos are cropped)

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Winter class schedule is up!


Registration Opens Mon, Dec. 1, 2014
Noon Eastern (12:00 p.m. EST)

Classes Offered:

Expository Essay
Groovy Grammar
High School Writing Projects
Just So Stories
Kidswrite Basic
Kidswrite Intermediate
Literary Analysis: Rebecca
Middle School Writing Projects
Movie Discussion Clubs: Gutsy Boys and Brave Girls
Playing with Poetry
Photography and Writing
SAT/ACT Essay Prep

Feel free to email Julie or to contact Brave Writer via the online chat option (lower right corner of the home page) if you need help determining which classes would be best for your kids and you.

Click here for more info!

Image by Brave Writer mom, Colleen (cc)

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Be more interested in the thinking than the thoughts


When someone shares a strong opinion—even when unsubstantiated by facts and data—it’s easy to feel that it is your obligation to enlighten said person with the “truth” —the truth that has eluded them until they happened upon your smarter, more capable mind.

A child is necessarily younger and less experienced with the world than you are, so their opinions will come from a different (more limited) space. But those conclusions and thoughts are no less logical to the child, no less important, no less “true” in his or her own mind’s eye.

I don’t know anyone who has kept every opinion formed at age ten throughout the rest of life. Kids, teens, young adults, heck OLD adults, routinely revise their notions of what is true, right, and good all the time, as they add experiences, information, and relationships to their lives. Our job as parents isn’t to “safeguard” a particular set of ideas or beliefs (no matter how much we may hope that our kids will adopt a particular set).

Our job is to value cognitive processes that show our kids are learning to reflect on their thinking. We don’t do this to manipulate our kids or anyone else to adopt our way of thinking. We do it to enhance the powers of thought that our kids are exhibiting.


When Johannah first became interested in animal rights, she wanted to find a way to make a difference. For her, that meant adopting veganism as her lifestyle. It would have been easy to forbid it (since I had to cook for six other meat-lovers in the family and her choice would be inconvenient) or to combat it with my experiences (I grew up vegetarian and I “knew” that she wouldn’t want to be one forever) or to rebut it with my own set of facts about health.

But what I could see in her commitment wasn’t an opinion about animal rights nearly as much as it was an expression of how she “took in” impacting information and then applied it to her life. She was showing me that when she took something seriously, she would make a corresponding choice to back it with her actions! What an amazing development in a young person—to not just rant about ideas, but to put into practice a highly inconvenient lifestyle choice to back up her convictions!

As a result, our family accommodated this choice. In fact, two more kids chose to become vegans as a result of watching this commitment lived out. We had lots of discussions about how we make commitments and to what causes. It was not easy for my three vegans to understand my choice to not be vegan, for instance. Just my own lifestyle provided them with a chance to learn how to peacefully co-exist with difference—different experiences, thoughts, choices, facts.

Today, only one of the three is still vegan. They have their new reasons for why they live differently now. These new choices show growth in how they nuance commitments and what they believe. As I suspected, their ideas morphed and grew just like mine have over a lifetime.

When our kids become passionate about a belief, or when they are exploring ideas that may even seem uncomfortable to us, this is a chance to be supportive of the cognitive development happening right before our eyes! It’s a wonderful thing to see a mind choose to think independently of the family culture—to branch out to find information, ideas, and commitments all their own. It doesn’t mean our kids will even land or stay with these ideas for good. Lord knows most of us shift identities and beliefs again and again throughout our lives.

Rather, our children, teens, young adults are doing the hard work of becoming—becoming people who know how to think for themselves, using the resources, experiences, and reasoning skills available at that stage in the journey.

All we have to do is buy soy milk, hummus, and Earth Balance margarine, while listening intently to the passionate plea to end violence against animals.

Cross-posted on facebook. Image © Jess Yu | Dreamstime.com

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Tuesday Teatime: “We’re loving it!”

Tuesday Teatime Alina blog

My friend Autumn and I started Poetry Teatime Tuesdays, thanks to your blog. The kids have all enjoyed it so we plan to continue.

For this week, the kids mostly picked Shel Silverstein poems which was our suggested theme/topic.

At our teatime, each child picked their tea. As it steeped, each child read their poem while the others listened (and laughed).

My son Elliott (age 8) picked “Bear in There.” My daughter (age 6) picked “Pie Problem.” My other daughter (age 4) recited a poem she is learning for her violin lessons called “Up Like a Rocket.” My youngest daughter Nadia (age 8 months) is not in the picture but she was with us, too…in her high chair.

Autumn’s daughter Abigail (age 9) selected “Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me Too.” Autumn’s other daughter Jocelyn (age 11) picked “Sick.”

After reading, we all enjoyed sipping our tea and eating cake & rice krispie treats. I set the the table with Fall colors and china from my great aunt.

After eating, the kids spread out with their teatime journals: on the table, on the floor, and on couches. They each did their own work: copy their poem, copy a line from their poem, illustrate their poem, or all of the above.

Thanks for the wonderful idea. We’re loving it!


Image (cc)

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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November Webinar: Copywork and Dictation

Image by Alex-Webinar

Join us for our 2nd Homeschool Alliance Webinar!

Title: Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Copywork and Dictation
Presented by: Julie Bogart
Date and Time: November 21, 2014- 4:00 pm EST
Cost: FREE for those registered (includes the live webinar and a recorded replay for 48 hours afterwards–members of the Homeschool Alliance will have continued access)
Registration Link: http://webinarjam.net/webinar/go/12775/0f2d5b5a48

Take the busy work out of copywork and dictation!

Copywork encourages your children to save meaningful passages from the books they read. Dictation enables them to discover how to write correctly spelled words from memory then assemble those words on the page using proper punctuation and grammar.

This webinar will revolutionize your understanding of how to use both practices to accomplish all your best intentions for language arts instruction.

You’ll learn how to naturally teach the mechanics of writing (spelling, grammar, punctuation, and literary elements) through copywork and dictation, and you’ll discover how to do so without causing pain or anxiety or anger in your kids.

Don’t miss it!

Register Today!

Image by Brave Writer mom, AlexD (cc)

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