Movie Night: The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars movie night

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Hazel Grace Lancaster is seventeen and has cancer. Her life is hardly fantastic, but she’s coping. Everything changes however when she goes to a cancer support group and meets Augustus Waters, a fellow sufferer, whom she forms a connection with. They bond over Hazel’s favorite novel, An Imperial Affliction, and grow closer through their mutual wisdom beyond their years and their fears for the future.

Hazel doesn’t want to fall in love with Gus—she knows that if she does, she’ll only break his heart when she dies. However, when the two decide to make a trip to Amsterdam to seek out the mysterious author of An Imperial Affliction, they’ll find out that certain things are just meant to be.

The Fault in Our Stars is a difficult film to watch, but it’s also considered by many an exquisite piece of film-making. Consider it for the next movie night with your older children and teens.

Please note: this PG-13 film contains mature themes. In order to evaluate whether or not it’s appropriate for your family, we recommend watching it first and/or using the Kids-in-Mind website.

Discussion Questions

  • As with any film adapted from a book, how do you think the adaptation compares to the novel if you’ve read it? How important is it to read the source material before watching a movie based on it?
  • At the beginning, Hazel doesn’t want to pursue a relationship with Gus in case she dies and breaks his heart. Which is better in your view: to love someone and lose them or never to love them at all?
  • Do you believe the film is respectful in its depiction of cancer patients? Explain.
  • Stories like The Fault in Our Stars might be considered “cathartic” (a work of art that provides psychological relief through the expression of strong emotions). Why do you think people appreciate films that make them cry?
  • The title comes from a Shakespeare quote: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, / But in ourselves,” although this isn’t explained in the film. Is it a good title? Why or why not.

Additional Resources

Dutch Recipes – Try these delicious Dutch dishes.

Faulty math in the Fault in our Stars? – “Some infinities are bigger than other infinities” but maybe not in the way you might think.

Shakespeare Inspired Novel Titles – Want more Shakespearean titles? Here, have a bunch!

Fault in Our Stars BoomerangLearn language arts naturally with the Fault in Our Stars Boomerang!

The Boomerang is a monthly digital downloadable product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel. It is geared toward 8th 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.


Blog Roundup: August 2016 Edition

Brave Writer Blog Roundup August 2016

Welcome to the latest blog roundup! See how other homeschooling families practice the Brave Writer Lifestyle:

The Day I Abandoned My Workbooks… For Good by Rebecca, Hip Homeschooling

I was going crazy! I was losing my patience on a regular basis, fighting with my kids to do their school, and feeling at a complete loss. I was homeschooled growing up! I had a passion for this… why then did I feel like I was failing? Then one day, 4 years into my homeschool journey I discovered Brave Writer, and the lightbulb turned on…read more.

Jot It Down: A Supportive Interest-Driven Curriculum for Young Writers by Rebecca, Home | School | Life

Julie Bogart’s popular Brave Writer resources are favorites among homeschooling families. One enthusiastic mom told me, “Brave Writer is more than a curriculum; it’s also a guide to maximizing all of the joys and rewards that come with the homeschooling lifestyle”…read more.

The Unique Power of a Homeschool Parent: Innovation by Mary, Not Before 7

I am an educational innovator. I am on the cutting edge of bringing education into the 21st century. I am in the practice of creating new methods, ideas, and maybe even products.

And I am not the only one…read more.

A Review of Brave Writer’s Faltering Ownership by Alexandra, Life on Island

Faltering Ownership is a year-long language arts plan with 12 writing projects from Brave Writer. It is aimed for ages 11 to 12, but like all the Brave Writer programs, it varies depending on the skills and abilities of each child…read more.

Building Writers with Faltering Ownership by Eva, The Curriculum Choice

A couple years ago, I was struggling to find a language arts curriculum that was both engaging and complimentary to our homeschool philosophy. In my quest, I sampled a wide variety of curricula. When I discovered Brave Writer, I knew I had found what I had been looking for…read more.

Party School-Underground Railroad by Noelle, TripleSmiles

14 years ago…..yep 14, I was hired on a local public school with an amazing group of educators. We were one of a kind and we loved each other fearlessly. We worked hard together every day making sure every single child showed individual progress. We enjoyed planning fun and unique expiernces like non other that I had expierenced at any other school I had been a part of. During the Spring of that year our fearless team leader, Katie proposed an idea to take the kids on an interactive simulation through the Underground Railroad…read more.

If you haven’t already, enjoy the nine wonderful blog posts about the 2016 Brave Writer Retreat.

Check out Homeschooling without Training Wheels’ Poetry Teatime Starter Kit giveaway! She shares all kinds of teatime tips and resources in her post. Deadline is August 22nd.

We hope to share more roundups in the future! If you write about an aspect of the Brave Writer Lifestyle, let us know! Email your post’s url to Jeannette, our Social Media admin (blog@bravewriter.com). Thanks!


Help Your Kids Breathe Life Into Their Story Characters

How to help your kids breathe life into their story characters

by Brave Writer instructor Karen O’Connor

Have you noticed that when your children are glued to a well-written story you can hardly pry them away for a meal? They get totally caught up in the lives of the characters and are often inspired to create stories of their own. You can help your kids breathe life into their story characters with a few simple guidelines.

Encourage children to:

1. Get to know their characters intimately. ‘Live’ with these boys and girls as they would a sibling or best friend. Have them create a short profile of each character. What does he like to eat? What games does she enjoy playing? What style of clothing does he choose? What are her habits and hobbies? What is he afraid of? Why is she so bossy?

2. Assign each character a distinguishing characteristic or core quality. For example, in one story, Jasmine is a ‘walking dictionary’ as her brother calls her. She has taken it upon herself to learn at least one new word each day starting with the letter A. Your son or daughter might create a character with a special talent or a personality trait that attracts attention.

3. Create multi-level characters. Talk with your children about the physical appearance, emotional makeup, and mental capacity of their characters. Suppose one of the girls is short for her age, quick-witted, and yet embarrassed to show her real feelings. On the other hand, imagine a male character who is “tall, dark, and handsome”—and that’s it. A reader might have a hard time relating to such a stereotype. Talk about what would help readers relate to the character.

4. Avoid labels. (Sue was sad. Andy was happy). Flat statements such as these rob the reader of drawing his own conclusions based on what the characters do. Remind your kids to show rather than explain. For example: Sue dropped to the floor and sobbed. Andy dashed through the door waving his first-place ribbon. Bring the characters on stage and let them talk and act for themselves.

5. Choose a name that helps to identify and individualize the characters. For instance, Gabby could be a cute nickname for a talkative boy whose given name is Gilbert. A striking and to the point name, like Dot or Liz, might work for a tough loudmouth.

6. Study characters that catch your children’s interest in the books they read. What makes them special? What is memorable about them? Creating characters of depth and substance takes time and practice. But all the effort is worth it to hear from a happy reader that their story characters are ‘true to life.’

Karen O’Connor is an award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction—for children and adults and a writing coach (Write for Fun 1 and Write For Fun 2) with Brave Writer.

Write for Fun!


Friday Freewrite: Butterfly and Frog

Friday Freewrite

What might these two say to each other? Write a conversation between the butterfly and the frog, and keep in mind that in nature, frogs sometimes prey on butterflies.

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.


A little enchantment goes a long way

A little enchantment goes a long way

We see passion in chess tournaments—and applaud it.
We see passion in video gaming—and shame it.

Same skills—same immersive, passionate engagement.
What’s going on here?

Why aren’t our kids more interested in chess (we wonder)? Why are video games so compelling to kids (we hand wring)?

Because video games are enchanting. They are filled with treasure hunts, mysteries, problems to solve, doors to unlock with special keys, magical appearances, plinks and shimmers of sound and visual delight. Video game-makers create passionate fans because they know how to build worlds that enchant children!

Which frustrates the living day lights out of most of us!

I get asked: Is it possible to enchant academics? I say a resounding “Yes!”

Adults need a paradigm shift. We need to refrain from asking if what children are learning will serve them later and instead look at what they are learning right now that they value.

Let me say that again.

Our chief responsibility as parents and educators is to unlock treasure on the other side of the locked academic door. We want to move from “Pages completed” IS the goal of education to asking: What’s the mystery, surprise, risk and adventure inherent in fractions or pronouns or the revolutionary war?

No one learns to read so that they can
pass a test or complete a work book.

We become enthusiastic readers because there are stories —surprises, heartaches, relationships, the keys to becoming a whole healthy happy loved person, the dire mistakes made by others laid before us so we might learn to do better.

We read to become proficient in repairing a lawn mower or to bake a pineapple upside down cake! We read for the playfulness of language—the linguistic gymnastics of poetry and tongue twisters! Why is math different? What is the exceptional experience of becoming mathematically proficient?

The kids who catch on play with math like to play with Legos or video games. They program or build, they apply math to their ordinary lives and you never hear about it (it happens inside).

I remember Noah created a multiplication table that was built from base 12. That means he introduced two new characters into his multiplication system, and then had to actually carry those digits through as he multiplied. And he did it. Himself. No assignment. That little times table lived in his wallet for years.

You should also know that in his math class in high school, he wrote poems during his first math test. Math, poetry—they were friends, not separate subjects.

Learning because you want to know is possible for everyone.

It isn’t just for the few. It isn’t “Well my kid isn’t that interested in learning” or “You haven’t met my kids.”

Learning is so natural, your children are already passionate fans of it. What adults sometimes fail to see is the passion inside the child’s mind.

The passionate interest of a child is invisible to the parent/educator and therefore, it goes unappreciated or even unknown! Sometimes when we find out what’s there, we don’t value it at all.

What we’ve done in the name of education
is strip learning of its magical powers.

I like to say that the least taught literary element in writing is: surprise. Yet everything in writing depends on it. Surprising language, plot twists, unexpected facts, a quote about a topic that is shocking given who said it—this is how writers find readers every day. They say what no one will say or they say it in a way you haven’t heard it before.

You will stop reading if there is no surprise coming. If you think you know what’s ahead, you won’t finish the book or the page or the article.

Take that principle—the element of surprise, the element of subversion, of mystery, of risk and adventure—and right now, apply it to your homeschool.

Is your homeschool surprising?
Is it in any way an adventure?

Make it smaller. Is there anything to look forward to, today, in my home?

Homeschools gone wrong are trying too often to apply systems. Parents are looking to eliminate surprises (like low scores, or unruly behavior, or messes, or distractions). We are literally working against our best ally for education most days.

What if you embraced what you consider an obstruction to your carefully planned curriculum? What if you could see the magic in the mess, in the rabbit trail, in the off-task inspiration? What if you could do that just once this week (not every day, not every time)?

Give your kids the chance to surprise you. You don’t have to create surprises for them nearly as much as you need to be open to the element of surprise in them. The next time someone asks you to look at what they are reading, doing, seeing, STOP—and read, do, see it. Get inside that amazing mind of your child. It is all mystery and surprise in there!

There is enough in the mind of a child to lead to a lasting education for a lifetime.

A little enchantment goes a long way

Check out our Writing for Fun class!