Archive for the ‘BW products’ Category

Which Brave Writer Products?

Which Brave Writer Products Do You Need?

Brave Writer is unlike other writing programs!

We don’t organize around grade level or writing format instruction.

Our products address writing in three ways:

  1. Original writing: learning how to express thoughts in writing.
  2. Writing mechanics and literature: using the practices of copywork and dictation drawn from literature to teach spelling, punctuation, grammar, literary elements, and writing craft.
  3. Writing projects: creating developmentally appropriate writing projects that combine original writing skill with mechanics aptitude (letters, reports, poems, essays, and so on).

You are free to mix and match our programs according to your needs. Please do!

Listen, I homeschooled five kids. I found it challenging to work with five levels at once. When I designed Brave Writer, I wanted to be sure parents could choose a program to use with all their kids—adapting it up or down a little depending on the academic center of gravity in the family. For instance, the Writing Project programs—Jot It Down! and Partnership Writing—are easy to adapt to ages between 3-12. Pick one, use it for everyone.

The Writer’s Jungle is written for parents and addresses the writing needs of kids between the ages of 8 and 18.

Our language arts programs can be purchased 10 at once when you buy our current year’s collection, or you can buy them one at a time (Arrow and Boomerang). With a big family, you might consider buying individual issues from a variety of levels using only one per month, rotating through them.

Brave Writer is oriented to you, the real homeschooling parent.

Use the guide below for more help!


Brave Writer Products

Would you like to use the Brave Writer in your homeschool but aren’t sure which products you need? This may help!

To become an effective writing coach

To facilitate original writing and create writing projects

  • DO-IT-YOURSELF: Freewriting! Also create your own writing projects (Appendix 1 in The Writer’s Jungle) or take the easy way out and use one of our writing project programs: Home Study Courses. Each course has ten or more writing projects in it to last you at least a year.
  • GET HELP: Sign up for an online writing class with our awesome writing coaches (who are also, by the way, homeschoolers like you!).

To combine literature with mechanics

  • CUSTOM-BUILD: Pick novels to read, select your own passages for copywork and dictation and apply the lessons of Chapter 1 of The Writer’s Jungle.
  • BRAVE WRITER CURATED: Pick one of our ten-month Language Arts Programs or purchase our language arts guides a la carte to go with the books you are already reading.
  • In addition to our tools, you might also use a supplementary grammar reference (like Nitty Gritty Grammar) in the elementary years and then a more systematic program (we recommend Winston Grammar) once in junior high and once in high school (or learn a foreign language).

For homeschool continuing education and support for you

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Learn more about Brave Writer products

Happy Birthday, Charlotte Brontë!

Jane Eyre Boomerang Sale

[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases,
Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]

In celebration of Charlotte Brontë’s birthday (born April 21, 1816), we’re making a special offer! The Boomerang for her novel, Jane Eyre, is:

HALF PRICE until Saturday at midnight EST! ($5.95)
OFFER HAS EXPIRED

Charlotte Brontë was born on April 21, 1816 in Yorkshire, England and was the eldest of the three Brontë sisters who survived childhood. All three sisters were authors and had their works published under masculine pseudonyms to conceal the fact that they were women in order to maintain some anonymity and to escape the prejudices against female authors.

Jane Eyre: An Autobiography, more commonly known today as simply Jane Eyre, was first published in 1847 under Charlotte’s pseudonym of Currer Bell and is considered a Gothic romance. The novel follows its titular protagonist, Jane, as she grows from abused orphan to a governess in the household of Mr. Rochester, with whom she falls in love. But all is not as it seems at Thornfield Hall; mysteries lurk within its walls with the power to tear the two apart.

Filled with yearning and palpable emotion, Jane Eyre is considered a literary classic.

So, celebrate Charlotte Brontë’s birthday and take advantage of this special offer!

If you’d like to buy a copy of the novel, it’s available through Amazon: Jane Eyre.


The Boomerang is a monthly digital downloadable product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel. It is geared toward 7th to 10th graders (ages 12—advanced, 13-15) and is the indispensable tool for Brave Writer parents who want to teach language arts in a natural, literature-bathed context.

Is Brave Writer a Complete Writing Program?

Is Brave Writer a Complete Writing Program?

Brave Writer is a complete writing and language arts program, not supplemental. The goal of what we do is to prepare kids to be competent, confident writers in a variety of settings, including academic contexts like college and beyond. We get there by beginning with writing voice and nurturing it so that a child discovers what it feels like to have something to say, something worth preserving on paper or on a computer. That self expression puts a child in touch with the part of self that generates original thought, accesses his or her vocabulary, and selects the best “container” for their writing (does this material suit a poem or a report, a letter or an academic essay?).

Where we differ from other programs is that we are not organized by grade level, but by developmental stages of growth in writing. We see writing in three categories:

  1. original writing (the process of generating original thought and putting that into the written word),
  2. the mechanics of writing (which we explore using living literature and the practices of copywork and dictation),
  3. and writing projects (bringing mechanics and thoughts together to create something—lapbook, mini report, a poster, textual criticism in an essay, research papers, and so on…).

The Writer’s Jungle is the primary manual that teaches both philosophy and process using a variety of activities and writing excursions. It is written to the homeschooling parent and is not a text book. Each chapter has a writing process to do with your child with samples and explanations about its application to the writing process.

The Wand, Arrow, and Boomerang offer a monthly literature guide focused on a single novel that is age appropriate. In these month-long guides you will find 4 weeks worth of copywork and dictation with detailed, user-friendly descriptions of the literary elements, grammar, spelling, and punctuation found in the passages.

The products like Jot it Down, Partnership Writing, Faltering Ownership and Help for High School are focused on writing products/projects. This is where we introduce forms for writing—but we get there differently than most writing programs. We focus first on

  • immersion in material,
  • developing original thought,
  • examining one’s own perspective against others,
  • and creating space for creativity (btw, creativity is just as necessary for a persuasive essay as it is for a poem).

Then we explore the convention of the form for writing and look at ways to apply it to the content generated by the student.

We take revision seriously—it is not just a process of correcting a few typos or spelling errors, or hunting in a thesaurus for a better term. Revision in Brave Writer is about giving new vision to the writing—engaging in a process of re-imagining the content—deepening and expanding it.

Our online classes cover all three aspects of writing: original thought, mechanics and literature, and writing forms.

It is possible to do only Brave Writer materials and classes for the entirety of your child’s childhood. That said, it’s also wise to give your kids the chance to write in additional contexts as well so that they experience how other people teach writing. I usually recommend including some other writing opportunities in high school (co-op, local junior college, working with another writing instructor) once the writing voice is strong and well formed. We do have a wide variety of writing coaches in Brave Writer, though, and that provides its own variety too.

I come from professional writing. What we do when we work with people aspiring to be writers is we stir up the writing life first.

We say: What do you have to say? Then we help them get that out.

Schools tend to say to students: Writing is difficult so I’m going to tell you exactly what to write and how.

In the school context, kids lose touch with having something to say and keep trying to figure out what the teacher wants to read.

In the professional context, the writer gets more and more in touch with having something to offer. That makes learning the various forms not only more interesting, but more powerful. The writing then sounds like them!

Adding one last thought about academic writing: I teach at the university level. What most professors complain about with college writing is that students know the formulas for writing but don’t have much skill with original thought or critical inquiry of texts. There’s a hunger among academics for students to break free of the rigid formulas and to connect with the discipline or the field.

In our high school writing classes, we do teach the academic forms, but we do so with a view to ensuring that our students generate insight first and that they learn how to do the rhetorical work of examining sources for credibility, understanding point of view, and learning to hold positions dispassionately.

Our students who have gone off to college and return to tell us about it have said that their professors often praise them for their original thought or that their writing sounds like them—not a formula. We use college composition principles and teach the MLA citation structures, but not at the expense of cultivating a writer’s rhetorical imagination. We do both. We just save that academic specificity for high school when the mind is more mature and ready to do that kind of work.

Curious about Brave Writer?

Early English Boomerang Collection

Early English Boomerang Collection

*NEW* Early English Collection of Boomerangs!

From the Mead-Hall to the Drawing-Room

6 Issue Set for $59.00
(Also sold individually)

With this special collection of Boomerangs, we offer you a guided tour of history-making classics from early English literature. The Boomerang is our literature guide that uses living literature to teach both the mechanics of writing as well as the wonderful content of the literature itself!

This particular collection is meant for high school and can satisfy half a credit toward a year’s course in literature. Most high school English programs require one year of British literature, a year of American, and a year of world literature. We’re happy to offer you this set of Boomerangs to help you fulfill that requirement.

You will receive all six issues at once. Or the Boomerangs can be purchased as single issues by clicking on the individual titles themselves.

Book List (books not included)

[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases,
Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]

  • Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney
  • Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
  • Sir Gawain translated by Simon Armitage
  • Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Purchase the books here.

Early English Boomerang Collection

What is the Boomerang?

The Boomerang is a digital downloadable product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel. It is the indispensable tool for Brave Writer parents who want to teach language arts in a natural, literature-bathed context, using copywork and dictation. It is a language arts resource that equips you, the homeschooling parent, to fulfill your best intentions related to:

  • Spelling
  • Punctuation
  • Grammar
  • Literary elements
  • Quality living literature
  • Literary analysis

The practices of copywork and dictation teach your children the fundamentals of written communication. These practices naturally facilitate the development of accurate mechanics in the context of quality literature (the best words, in the best style, accurately edited).

Early English Boomerang Collection

Trees in the Forest: Day Five

Trees in the Forest: Connecting with Character

by Rita Cevasco and Tracy Molitors

Day One: Laying a Path
Day Two: Bits & Pieces I
Day Three: Bits & Pieces II
Day Four: Story Symbols

“You have helped ease my mind . . . Seeing you demonstrate that there are choices to be made in every passage is liberating. I see more clearly that we are laying a path. What that means is this: it’s a process!” —Tara, Homeschool Parent

Connecting with Characters is one of the chapters in our book, Trees in the Forest: Growing Readers and Writers through Deep Comprehension.

Cartooning Characters is a strategy we explore in order to enrich understanding in a story. We readers are more likely to relate to a story’s theme when we relate to the story’s character. Cartooning is one step in Laying a Path to deeper comprehension.

In interpreting our character’s conflict and the stories themes, we begin to relate the story’s ideas to both the broader issues of the world and the narrower issues of our own lives. This is the definition of connecting with text and active reading: the ability to understand the writer’s themes, analyze how and why ideas are revealed, and to relate those ideas to our own lives and to all of humanity. Connecting with text is a tall order; all of us—children and adults—grow in these skills throughout our reading lives.

Helping readers develop a habit of making connections and analyzing text can happen at any age, especially when we capture and record our thoughts while reading. In our book we use the practice of copywork to help us capture and record our thoughts. We teach strategies to intentionally turn a story’s passage into a language arts study, taking a small bit of learning (a tree) and using it to gain understanding of literature (a forest). We call this in-depth study of copywork (the equivalent of studying a tree) Intentional Copywork.

Intentional Copywork must begin with comprehension—after all, understanding is a necessary first step in deep learning. I discovered in my Foundations class through Brave Writer that many families weren’t using the practice of copywork and dictation to its fullest, and therefore, either giving up or missing opportunities. Sometimes families assigned copywork, but didn’t realize their kids weren’t reading and understanding the chosen passage. Thus, part one in our Trees in the Forest Series gives various ideas for one aspect of language arts—comprehension—that can be used within a week of Intentional Copywork. Like our Cartooning Characters activity, we provide strategies that can be used again and again—all containing Bits and Pieces of writing.

Today we will add context to our cartoon. One way we add context is by engaging in copywork. We will add a quote from the story that seems to fit our cartoon. It might be a favorite quote, an oft repeated character line, or just something that tickles our fancy. The quote might illustrate the symbol or the theme. The quote might illustrate the conflict. It is the artist’s choice! But since the writing is going onto our week-long project, let’s write as neatly as we can. If you have a young or struggling writer, be sure to add lines for guidance.

Voila! We just gave our children a great reason to be neat in their copywork.

Lastly, we will add context to our story by drawing in the setting. Every story is told in its own little world. But story worlds are designed to help the reader relate the conflict and themes to two other worlds: the larger human world and the smaller world of our own lives. We use another activity in our book to help children make this connection, but Cartooning Characters is a great start.

If you haven’t already, download the free PDF to see how we encourage children to think about their character’s world, adding context through setting and quotations. We will add context to our drawing sheet that now contains all five days’ worth of activities. There is an example for your reference.

Over these five days, we have

  • explored a favorite character,
  • added our own thoughts with Bits and Pieces of writing,
  • identified conflicts,
  • discovered symbols and themes,
  • and added both the story’s content (quotes) and context (setting).

We began with a simple drawing, and ended with a complex character sketch! We gained insight and added our thoughts to the story. As we say in our book—without a reader’s response, there is no story.

Download our PDF, or continue with Day Five . . .

DOWNLOAD Cartooning Characters


Trees in the Forest: Growing Readers and Writers through Deep Comprehension
by Rita Cevasco with Tracy Molitors

Think deeply to write deeply. . . Geared to parents, educators and Speech Language Pathologists, this creative resource can be used to aid children in becoming lifelong readers and writers. Available in PDF or PRINT formats.

For the digital PDF version:
Take $5.00 off at check out!
Enter Discount Code: RITA5

(expires January 31, 2017)

[This post contains an Amazon affiliate link. When you click on the link to make a purchase,
Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]

Rita Cevasco