Brave Writer spotlight: Claire
From Brave Writer mom, Jennifer:
This is bound to become lengthy, but I am so excited about our day, that I feel compelled to share it with you! My daughter is 6.5 and my son is almost 4. My daughter has always been “verbally precocious” with a vocabulary of well over 300 words at 2, reading at 4, and at a roughly 5th grade reading level now. I have subscribed to your blog, Facebook feed, Yahoo group, etc. for perhaps a year now. I find your words inspiring and your philosophies resonate with me. I haven’t been sure about where to begin BraveWriter-style writing instruction with my daughter. We don’t do any explicit reading instruction any more – just spelling. She gets handwriting through copy work, she reads voraciously, and I read aloud several times daily. Her writing has been largely lists, love notes, thank-you cards, and occasionally she writes her own “Thankful Thought” in a daily journal we keep – though she typically prefers me to write for her. She did spontaneously write a story during her quiet time one day, and I was thrilled!
I began Poetry Tea Times with my children this summer. The first time I used a fancy table cloth, fresh cut flowers, a candle, fancy tea cups, and fresh, home-baked treats. They LOVED it! We read mostly Shel Silverstein – my daughter read her own selections, and I read those that my son chose. He asks for “Bear in There” regularly. I found that level of preparation a bit much for weekly commitment. It seems that the tea, baked goods, and poetry are enough for them to find magic in it. When we bake, I put the cookies, muffins, or quick bread in the freezer, so I can just pull some out when I need it. I put the tea kettle on while they gather the books, and we enjoy it even with the dirty daily table cloth and mugs. We have branched out a bit with the poetry, but they still prefer humorous selections. As someone who has never found the appeal in poetry, it is funny to me that they enjoy this so much, but it does seem to be a magical time.
Last month, I bought my daughter a journal for writing, with the intention of doing Friday Freewriting with her, but I only ever manage to get a sentence or two. I am thinking I should write in my own journal at the same time. I thought maybe Jot It Down would be too simple for where my daughter is at, but got some feed back from another user that it might be good fit after all, so I purchased it.
I told her we were going to do a fairy tale project, and since “The Emperor’s New Clothes happened to fit in with something else we were doing, I got a bunch of versions of that tale from the library. Over the last week and a half she read several versions on her own, and I read a few to her as well. She completed her illustration last week, (choosing to work on it during her brother’s doctor appointment!) After math and our literature read-aloud (we are reading Pippi Longstocking in preparation for seeing the play on Friday), I sat down to take her dictation today. She gave me the first sentence, and then squirmed a little bit and declared she didn’t know what to call the characters who pretend to weave fabric. She said, “They are sort of like burglars, but that doesn’t seem right.” So I showed her my thesaurus, and we looked up “burglar.” It had a few options, but only one was sort of close to what she wanted, so we looked that word up, and found a host of options that would work. She settled on “swindler.” From there, the words just poured out. I was typing as quickly as I could, making a bunch of spelling mistakes – which she noticed. I assured her that the important part was that we capture all her wonderful thoughts – we can always go back to correct spelling and punctuation or make changes if she wants to. She finished her retelling, and we made the easy spelling and punctuation corrections, and talked about paragraph breaks. We plan to read it over again tomorrow and make sure she is satisfied (my experience with her tells me that she will not choose to make any structural changes, additions, etc.) I am so pleased with her story, and she was pretty pleased with the whole experience too. It did feel like we were partners – or at least that I was simply coaching and facilitating when she needed it. Once or twice I thought about asking a clarifying question, or asking her to elaborate on something, but I decided against it. I think there is time for that a little later. I want her to solidly feel ownership and joy in this for now. I can’t wait to do the next tale in a week or two!
After we finished writing, we went to the library, out to lunch, and to swimming lessons. During her quiet time after swimming, she listened to Tchaikovsky and read the third book in “The Roman Mysteries” series for an hour and a half. (My son listened to “House At Pooh Corner” on audio book.) Then we had a poetry tea with Vanilla Rooibos and apple muffins. It was a great day! Thank you so much for letting people know that it is the writer’s voice that should be nourished – all the boring mechanics can easily be learned later. No sense in drumming the joy out of writing for children!
The Emperor’s New Clothes
by Claire (age 6)
Once upon a time, there lived an emperor who liked lots and lots and lots of new clothes. One day some swindlers came long and said that they were the best weavers in the land. The emperor said, “I must have the cloth they make!” So the swindlers came and pretended to work on looms all day and all night.
The emperor sent a servant to check on how the swindlers were doing. When he saw the swindlers working at the empty looms, he said to himself, “I can’t believe that there is nothing at the looms! I must not let anyone know that I saw nothing on the loom!’ The swindlers pretended to hold silk out to him, asking “Isn’t it marvelous?” When he went back to the emperor he said, “It is marvelous, the silk!”
After a few months the emperor became impatient and sent a servant to check on how the swindlers were doing again. When that servant saw nothing on the looms he though to himself, “I must not let anyone know that I saw nothing on the looms!” When he went back to the emperor, he said. “It is magnificent, your majesty!”
After a few more months the emperor became even more impatient and sent another servant to check on how the swindlers were doing. When he saw nothing on the looms, he said to himself.”Well, there is nothing on the looms, but I must not let the emperor himself know that there is nothing on the loom.” When he went back to the emperor he said, “It is so beautiful, Emperor!” Then the emperor sent him back to see when the swindlers would be done. The swindlers said, “We will be done tomorrow night.” He rushed back to the emperor and said, “They said they will be done by tomorrow night.” The emperor said, “Then I shall hold a great celebration on the day after tomorrow night!”
When that day came, the swindlers brought the cloth before his majesty and pretended to dress him in it. When he walked out everyone crowded to see him and they said, “How marvelous the emperor looks in his new clothes!” Then a little boy said, “But the emperor has no clothes on!” and all of the villagers started whispering to each other, “But the emperor has no clothes on!” Soon they were shouting, “The emperor has no clothes on!” But the emperor, foolish enough to think that he did, just waved and walked on.