Archive for the ‘Activities’ Category

This IS school

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

This IS school

Turn your child’s interests into real learning experiences! It doesn’t matter what the interests are–baseball, Minecraft, horses, Star Wars. Think outside the box! In fact, we had a conversation on the Brave Writer Lifestyle Facebook Group recently, and here’s an example of how it might be done with a child who loves gymnastics:

Gymnastics is fabulous! Go to the library, find a few books, make sure she is watching YouTube videos (you’ve got the Olympics coming this summer—find the top gymnasts in the world to research and watch NOW so she is prepared to love the in August). Have her figure out how to teach one tumbling trick to someone (you, sibling, her dad). Take notes. Create a “how to” for/with her.

Other activities to try:

  • Put tape on the floor that is the same width as a balance beam. Have her measure and draw it out and then tape it. Then try doing some beam movements (walking, leaping, one-foot turns, forward rolls). See how well she can stay “up” on the beam.
  • Draw gymnastics costumes. Create a template for a leotard (online I’m sure) and have her color hers in the way she wants it.
  • Look at flags from countries that have major gymnasts. Find the countries on a map.
  • Explore the scoring system used for each piece of equipment. Find examples of routines at different scoring levels (lots of math here!).

Is she a gymnast? Is she taking lessons? If not, take her to a gym to watch a class. Perhaps let her take a series of lessons. If she is, then have her watch a more advanced class.

This IS school—it’s everything you want to do with her at her age: reading, writing, calculating, physical education, even the science of gymnastics could be explored (bodies, injuries, physics of vaulting and uneven parallel bars, geography through world renowned gymnasts, Olympic history of gymnastic competitions). She can do copywork from a book about gymnastics or she can make a list of the top gymnasts or all the tricks she wants to master in tumbling…

Above all else: enjoy.

The Homeschool Alliance

Table Top Games and Homeschooling

Monday, January 4th, 2016

Table Top Games and more

My son, Noah (28), keeps 20+ games in the trunk of his car. Why?

Because you never know when a chance to play a game with a group of people may pop up!

By popular request, Noah joined me to share his PASSION for games–the kind that don’t require a computer or gaming system. We looked at the physical products (didn’t just talk about them), and he shared age ranges, styles of games, and which ones to try based on your families’ preferences.

Enjoy the scope (games mentioned are listed below) and see how gaming enhances family life and education!

Games mentioned:

(Disclosure: most of the game links in this post are affiliate links; if you click
on any and purchase an item, Brave Writer receives a small commission)

Carcassonne Ages 8+ / 2-5 players / Play time: 30-90 minutes
Hanabi Ages 8+ / 2-5 players / Play time: 20-30 minutes
King of Tokyo Ages 8+ / 2-6 players / Play time: 30 minutes
Pandemic Ages 8+ / 2-4 Players/ Play time: 45-60 minutes
Small World Ages 8+ / 2-5 players / Play time: 45-60 minutes
Sushi GO! Ages 8+ / 2 to 5 players / Play time: 15 minutes
Ticket to Ride Ages 8+ / 2-5 players / Play time: 30-60 minutes
Zooreka Ages 8+ / 2-4 players/ Play time: 40 minutes
Cosmic Encounter Ages 10+ / 3-5 players / Play time: 60-120 minutes
Eminent Domain Ages 10+ / 2-4 players / Play time: 45 minutes
Forbidden Desert Ages 10+ / 2 to 5 players / Play time: 45 minutes
Galaxy Trucker Ages 10+ / 2-4 players / Play time: 60 minutes
Shadows Over Camelot Ages 10+ / 3-7 players / Play time: 60-90 minutes
Settlers of Catan Ages 10+ / 3-4 players / Play time: 60 minute
Apples to Apples Ages 12+ / 4-10 players / 30-60 minutes (Junior version for 9+)
Catch Phrase Ages 12+ / 4-16 players / Play time: 30 minutes
Cranium Ages 12+ / 4-16 players / Play time: 60 minutes
Power Grid Ages 12+ / 2-6 players / Play time: 2 hours
Scattergories Ages 13+ / 2-4 teams / Play time: 30 minutes
Twilight Struggle Ages 13+ / 2 players / Play time: 3 hours
Codenames Ages 14+ / 2 to 8+ players / Play time: 15 minutes
Spinergy Ages 15+ / 2-6 players / Play time: 60 minutes

RPGs (Role Playing Games)

Mouse Guard All Ages
Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple Ages 12+
Fate Ages 13+

Noah’s Favorite Five Board Games:

Pandemic Ages 8+ / 2-4 Players/ Play time: 45-60 minutes
Eminent Domain Ages 10+ / 2-4 players / Play time: 45 minutes
Cosmic Encounter Ages 10+ / 3-5 players / Play time: 60-120 minutes
Power Grid Ages 12+ / 2-6 players / Play time: 2 hours
Twilight Struggle Ages 13+ / 2 players / Play time: 3 hours

12 Days of Brave Writer giveaway

And be sure to check out your area for local game stores! Many keep games available for anyone to come in and play with friends or family (with staff who can explain rules when needed), and some also host events and tournaments.

Informative website: BoardGameGeek

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Sidewalk Writing: Five Ideas

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

Sidewalk Writing

by Brave Writer student and intern, Finlay Worrallo

Sidewalk chalk is not only for drawing pictures. Why not use it to write with, as well? Grab some chalks, find a sidewalk or pavement, and write! (Be sure to check first if any laws apply; not all sidewalk chalking is legal.)

Here are five ideas for sidewalk writing:

1. Big writing
Write words on the sidewalk in great BIG letters, as big as you can make them. You could write your name, a joke, some copywork, or simply words you love the sound of. You decide!

2. Colorful writing
Do some words look better in black than yellow, or vice versa? What colors suit different words best? Maybe red chalk for verbs and blue chalk for nouns or green chalk for long words and pink for short? Write words you like in different colors and see how they look.

3. Temporary writing
A cool thing about writing with chalk is that it’s easy to get rid of, either by rubbing it away or pouring water over it. What could you write in chalk knowing it would be quickly erased? Find a patch of pavement and write a secret in small letters. How does it feel to have those words outside of you, in the world, visible and solid? Think about that for a moment then pour a bucket of water on what you’ve written and let it all dissolve!

Sidewalk Writing

4. Public writing
What do you want to tell the world or, at least, the people who walk in your neighborhood? A cheery message? A strong opinion? A daring idea? A favorite quotation? Write so that every passerby will read what you’ve written!

5. Interactive writing
Encourage others to join in! Writing in an outside space gives people the chance to add their thoughts. You might chalk: “Write happy thoughts here!” then leave a piece of chalk on the sidewalk so others can share. Or start writing a list of your favorite books, places in town, or foods, and let people add their own as they stroll past.

So next time the weather’s nice, get some sidewalk chalks. Write big, write colorfully, and be chalky!

P.S. Make your own scented sidewalk chalk! Here are instructions by BitzNGiggles.
Images by Brave Writer moms, Jennifer and Cheryl

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Prepare thyself

Monday, November 9th, 2015

10 ways to prepare for the new holiday homeschool rhythm

The holidays are on their way. Halloween has barely returned to its grave when Christmas future haunted my in-box! Black Friday sales are already in promotion, pictures of gift items have snow flakes and garlands around them.

The tendency is to brace oneself for the coming onslaught of spending, relatives, too much food, and the pressure to make “perfect memories for the children.”


Appreciate the good you’ve already got going.

Traditions matter, but they also snowball if you let them! Pick the 3-5 that are especially important. Do those. Other “experiences” from previous years can be rotated out this season or delegated to another family member.

Homeschool can include some of these practices:

1. It’s great to bake and learn to write recipes.

2. It’s lovely to spend a day raking leaves and hanging lights.

3. Gift lists are ideal for handwriting practice.

4. Poetry Teatimes can include holiday songs.

5. Take advantage of shopping and sales to make math more practical and applicable to daily life.

6. A little world (aka geography, history!) tour for holiday traditions from other parts of the globe can add new interest to tired local customs too.

7. Calculations about the possible speeds and distances Santa must travel are great exercises in logic for the un-believing.

8. Create a family tree so that your kids know who is sending what cards and gifts and how they are related.

9. Build in family movie night so you can watch a time-honored holiday film together.

10. Hike! Tis the season! Get out in nature while it is still crisp, clear, and colorful.

The rhythm of homeschool changes around the holidays—use that to your advantage. January, with all its academic promise, is right around the corner. Give in to the holiday enthusiasm and bend it to your homeschool will. Prepare thyself for a lovely season of learning and joy.

The rhythm of homeschool changes around the holidays—use that to your advantage.

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Time Travel Writing Project

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

Time travel tour brochure writing project


I have a project idea to share with you. I saw this as a suggested activity for middle schoolers for a history assignment and it caught my imagination. Students make a Time Travel Tour brochure. I imagine students would first need to familiarize themselves with travel brochures to get an idea of how to make one. For each stop on the tour they write up a brief synopsis on what to expect to see while there that shows their knowledge of that event in time.

As an activity near the end of a semester or school year this could be both fun and good review. Also, if done as a group, making a collection of tours into a book would be fun, too. In a co-op setting you could also present the tours to the group.

I just wanted to share it with you. I’ve enjoyed using the writing projects from Brave Writer with my own kids as well as in co-op classes.


Image by Sam Valadi (cc cropped, text added)

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