Archive for the ‘Activities’ Category

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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Student Spotlight: Caleb!

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Crossword writing activity

Hi Julie,

Here is an activity I did with my son. It is not one of the activities in Partnership Writing but similar to the one using words from magazines.

I had both my kids (11 and 13) each use a set of scrabble tiles to create their own crossword on the tabletop. Both enjoyed the activity. The sheer volume of words they considered during this project was staggering.

The next time, I only did the activity with my 11 year old reluctant writer. I used the other scrabble set and made a crossword as well.

When we had finished, I asked Caleb to use some of his words to write a few sentences or a poem or a paragraph. It didn’t matter how many he used as long as some of them were from the crossword. I also used some of my words to write a story.

Well, Caleb worked for about 2 and a half hours. I only expected him to work for a short while and write a few sentences. He became completely engrossed in the process. He challenged himself to use all the words.

I am amazed at what he produced compared to what he has ever written before.

He has revisited the story a couple of times and read it out loud to check the punctuation. He was keen to be the editor so I have left that to him.

Kindest regards,

The Trick

by Caleb

“Ah, so many options to choose from.” James said, “Wow!” he exclaimed, “This pot of rations has a bag of seeds and a batch of biscuits in it!”
“Hmm, it really is getting on isn’t it, I better get back to the inn to complete that exam.

Once he’d got to the inn however, his friends snuck in to his cabin to rig up a trap.
They unanimously voted on who was the one to lead James into the right spot. They individually wrote who they thought should do it on separate bits of paper and put it into a fez, out of some dress-ups they had found, and a name was then picked out. Once one was picked out Callum said, “It’s a pity that we have to tip a bucket full of water on his head, because he told me today that he used an awful lot of gel because his hair was sticking up like turkey feathers.” He was clearly trying to talk the others out of doing what they were planning because he had been voted to lead James. While he said this though, the boys weren’t focusing on what he was saying because they were trying not to laugh at his t-shirt because it was stretched so much at the bottom that it looked like a frock.

“Gee, that maths exam was super hard.” James exclaimed to himself. He had no idea what was in store for him. As he walked into the cabin he spotted Callum, “Hi James, I was just looking for you.” Callum said. Everything was ready. The bucket with the yoyo string attached was in place, so were the boys in the roof. They could look down into the room for there were no boards in the ceiling stopping them. The bucket was on a beam and the boys had the string attached to it, so that when they pulled the yoyo, the bucket went toppling. James hadn’t looked at anything above the clock on the wall, so hadn’t seen them squatting in the roof, so the boys thought. The truth being James had already worked out what they were doing, and had a plan of action.

“Come over here, I want to show you this rock I found.”
“Ok.” He said pretending to be interested. He started walking towards the spot where he knew the bucket was going to fall. As soon as he nearly got there he said in a hurried voice “Quick, there is the air-raid siren!” James started towards the exit, and as Callum was not the smartest of children, did so as well even though James had deliberately set him up. The bucket had already started falling, indicating the string had already been pulled, so by the time the water had got there, it wasn’t James, but Callum who was under it, and the water was all over his head. “I’ve never broken my jaw but that felt pretty close to it!” he cried out as soon as it had hit, “Plus, you guys are idiots.” He turned on his heel and out the door. There was an awkward silence only to be broken by either a frog or a toad croak, no one could tell. “Well, that was a flawed plan. Plus I’m surprised he never broken his jaw before he plays so much rugby league.” One of the friends said knowingly.

Image by Ngaire (text added)

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Summer To Do List

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

Summer To Do List

Saw this fantastic To Do list for Summer while at a family reunion and thought of all our Brave Writer families. The activities are things like

water balloon fights,

taking a hike,

riding a pony,

movie in the backyard,

sidewalk art, and

visiting Grandpa at work!

You might consider creating vision for the summer in a similar way!

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When kids are bored

Monday, June 30th, 2014 © |

Boredom does not automatically create the conditions for creativity. More often it creates conditions for poking, tickling, nagging, arguments about the TV and computer, and needless fuss-budgeting. Don’t be trapped by this myth that if you leave kids alone long enough, they’ll turn into mini-Steven Spielbergs producing films in your backyard!

Creativity is catalyzed by materials that inspire the imagination. Children are concrete thinkers. That means they need tactile involvement (not ideas to contemplate). They don’t create ideas from the thin air, up inside their brains. They create from a pile of Legos, or sticks, or watercolor paint brushes. If they can’t find the tools, if they are told to go get the tools, if they are asked to put in the effort to create the conditions for creativity, they will often give up before they start.

Perhaps you’ve noticed: If you tell a child, “How about painting? You love painting” and the paints are hidden in a cupboard, no painting is going to happen.

Rather, you might notice a bored child and wordlessly walk to the cupboard, remove the paints and brushes and blank white paper. Set them on a cleared table in the same room where you are. Fill a glass with water. Sit at the table and begin to paint. Say nothing. You only have to paint for 2-3 minutes. I promise. Within that time, someone in the bored cluster of children is going to join you. Once that happens, you are nearly there—boredom is about to wave the white flag. When you see the energy rise to take up this activity, you can then separate yourself by a short distance (stay in the room, ooh and ahh, offer suggestions, be enthusiastic about all attempts, add brownies or snacks). You may be able to resume the work you were doing once the engine of creativity gets rolling.

1. When in doubt, add water. © |

Painting is nearly always a winner because it involves one of the three secret boredom busting weapons: Water.

Water play changes everything. Toddlers can be tossed into a bath tub or a literal tub. When I lived in Morocco, we used to use wash tubs for play. You can do that with a small wading pool. Put it right in the middle of your kitchen floor. Fill it about 6-8 inches deep. Dump all your measuring spoons and cups into the middle. Add sponges, squirt bottles, squirt guns, rubber ducks, and if your kids are grimy, a little bubble bath liquid. Swish with your hands.

Indoor water play is magical—on a waterproof surface, under your watchful eye, you can be in the kitchen/family room space doing what you need to do while small ones are happy.

Older kids also love water play. Invest in Super Soakers or sprinklers. Pull your car into the driveway and supply your kids with all the tools to wash your car. The key to making this fun and not a chore is being sure there are cool products to use on the car that soap it up, that squeegee the windows, and so on. Loud music and friends make this activity more fun too. Reward with a trip to an ice cream shop.

Naturally, painting furniture/pictures/flower pots (rinsing brushes in water), writing on the driveway with water and paintbrushes, swimming in a pool, washing windows, Slip n Slides, wading in a creek, walking in the rain with umbrellas, splashing in puddles and curbside gutters… These are all magnetic experiences for kids.

The key, though, is being sure to start the activity wordlessly—you start it. You do it. Say NOTHING. No suggestions, no telling the kids to go outside and play with water. That doesn’t work with bored kids. They need to see the option in action and you are the person to do it! Get it started, then see what happens.

2. If water is not an option, creating hidey holes usually is.

Couch Cushion FortImage by willholmes (cc)

Blankets, sheets, towels, cardboard boxes, small pieces of movable furniture…

The second surefire boredom buster is creating forts! Think outside of your usual “sheet over a card table” idea. You might create one on your deck. Tack a blanket or sheet across the hand railing in a corner (the blanket will be triangular over the space). Put cushions underneath with soft throws and a little low side table. Include a basket with books to read. You might even create a private entrance based on how you arrange the top sheet.

Forts behind couches, in the corner in your kitchen, behind a big recliner in the living room, in the basement, in your master bedroom (feels special to be in there! Never forget that). Bring snacks once it’s created.

3. A treasure hunt!

Treasure HuntImage by Joe Green (cc)

The most overlooked surefire boredom buster creates more work for you. I suggest you prepare this one ahead of time and save it for the day when you are at wit’s end and need something that will absolutely change the tone of the home.

To get the cards in place is the trick because your kids can’t watch you. So you may need to distract them with food/TV/or sending them outside (you can say, “I need you to not come into the room where I am because of a top secret mission. I will tell you when it’s safe to return”).

Any use of the word “Secret” will yield you big time trust points with your kids.

The treasure hunt can be as lengthy and elaborate as you like, but easy clues and simple treats work just as well. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Put the clues on notecards. Keep a list of the clues and where you will hide them so that you can help kids who get stuck finding the next clue.
  • The clues can rhyme but don’t have to. For small children not yet reading, a sketch or photo is just fine! They can match the picture to the next location. Another idea is to use word scrambles for the clues. Another idea is that the clue is a task they must complete before you will give them the answer for where to look next. For instance, you might have a clue that says, “Hop on the left foot 10 times then I’ll release the next clue.” Or you might have one that says, “Get the mail from the letter box, bring it to me, then I’ll give you the next clue.”
  • Be careful not to use this activity as a disguised way to get chores done (kids are smart!). But you could include a mixture of silly activities (reciting tongue twisters, looking up a famous saying online, doing a back bend) with household benefitting activities (put away three pairs of shoes, brush your teeth, return the DVDs to their right cases).
  • You want more than 3-5 clues (ends too quickly). Kids do great with 8-10 clues. Too many gets wearying, especially if the clues are difficult to solve.
  • Consider treats midway through the treasure hunt. It’s fun to get partway there and then know that you have been rewarded for that. A plate of grapes, a pair of stickers, a pack of gum, a super ball or pick up sticks make good midway treats.
  • The final item to be found ought to be worth the hunt. I recommend a brand new board game—something no one has played yet. A new DVD works, as does any artsy-crafty activity. Maybe a new water gun (cycling back to the #1 boredom buster)!

To review: When kids are bored—

1. Water
2. Forts
3. Treasure Hunts

See how it goes! Remember—the secret to success is your involvement in the initial phase without ANY words. No words. No urgings, no suggestions, no lectures, no explanations, no hints.

Start the activity on your own and see who joins you. Even the treasure hunt—you can pull the first index card from a pocket and say, “Hmmm. I wonder what this means” and read it aloud. Then see who joins you to solve it.

Good luck!

Cross-posted on facebook.

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Book Fair!

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Book Fair 1 Book Fair 3

The creativity of Brave Writer families is amazing! Homeschool mom, Knelly, writes:

We started out last week with homeschool light on some of our core subjects – this week we are pulling out some stops:)

I couldn’t decide which Arrow books to do this year, and when my 3rd and 5th grader get the “same stuff” you know, there’s usually blowback.

So this year [we had a Book Fair]! I filled the dining room with preselected, Julie Bogart Approved:), Bravewriter Arrow titles (I also put some fairy tales in there for Jot it Down!). Some I grabbed from around the house, a few at thrift stores, the library–and to round everything out, I just printed off a dust jacket and a paragraph from Amazon and called it good. [See above pic on the right]

The catch? They could ONLY pick 9. They can go through their Arrow issues with me in any order, and they can download on Kindle, hard copy or files!

Book Fair 4

The kids also spent time leading up making bookmarks for each other to choose. They could hardly wait for Book Fair Day to come. They waited in the stairwell with closed eyes and giggles.

Book Fair 2

Those cupcake-like things are actually hundreds of broken crayons found around our house that Fiona unwrapped, cut up and melted in muffin tins (use liners! melt for 15 min in a 200 degree oven and cool).   We now have NO MORE broken crayons anywhere and some cool wrong utensils. It also kept my kids busy for hours, over the course of several days.:)

Book Fair 5

The best part? I only had about an hour of prep time into this and EVERYONE is excited to start The Lemonade War!

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