Brave Writer on YouTube!

Brave Writer on YouTube

As many of you know, we had housed our Periscope videos on Katch. But when they closed their site we had the scopes transferred to YouTube. Now, each Thursday, we’ll make a new batch public!

Here are videos newly available on our YouTube page:

Real Life Grammar

Includes 5 Tips for Grammar Instruction FREE pdf download

Wacky Revision Tactics Workshop

FREE Prep Guide

6 Writing Myths Busted

Is Outlining Necessary?

This one was already public but is still helpful!


Movie Wednesday: Mary Poppins

Movie Wednesday: Mary PoppinsThis vintage Disney melmac plate is part of a set that was released as original
movie merchandise that accompanied the film in theaters (Grannies Kitchen cc).

Fifty-two years ago, a film arrived in cinemas that would go down in history as one of the greatest of all time. Based on the novel of the same name, Mary Poppins (affiliate link) tells the story of a mysterious woman who flies by umbrella into the lives of the Banks family. With their father busy at the bank and their mother committed to the Suffragette’s Movement, Jane and Michael need a nanny to look after them, and Mary Poppins is just the woman for the job.

Mary and her friend Bert the chimney sweep take the children on the adventure of a lifetime, into a world of singing penguins and tea parties on the ceiling, magical merry-go-rounds and staircases made of smoke. They discover the fun in tidying up a nursery with magic, journey into chalk pavement drawings, and explore the rooftops of London. But the children’s harassed father doesn’t entirely approve of magic and fun, and when he loses his job at the bank it will take all of Mary’s powers to make everyone happy again.

A true giant among family films, Mary Poppins is a timeless classic that’s so packed full of color and fun that it’s impossible not to enjoy!

Discussion Questions

  • The writer of the original books, P.L. Travers, discussed the film with Disney while it was being made. She wasn’t pleased with the finished product, feeling that the songs and animated sequence were unnecessary. Do you agree with her?
  • What do you think the film’s message is? Maybe strive to be happy? Give to charity? Don’t be afraid of chimney sweeps?
  • Dick van Dyke’s performance as Bert was well received, but his attempt at a Cockney accent was considered poor. Do you think that matters? Should Disney have cast an actor with a real Cockney accent instead?
  • Out of the many songs in the film, which is your favorite and why?
  • Which of the characters do you think changes the most during the film? Give examples of their character arc.
  • Is it true that Mary Poppins helps everyone? Explain.
  • Mary and Bert have a close friendship, but do you think they have stronger feelings for each other than they acknowledge? Do you think the film would be better or worse if they had a romantic relationship?

Practically Perfect Ideas (all optional!)

If you want to make your movie experience even more supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, you might try one or two of these ideas.

Dress in Costume

  • lace gloves
  • hat with a sprig of quirky flowers
  • big purse or carpet bag
  • umbrella
  • “chimney sweep” equipment (a duster could work!)
  • black eye shadow for soot

Serve Special Treats

Create Sidewalk Art

After the movie you might invite kids to create their own sidewalk chalk art like Bert does. And if you’d like to make your own sidewalk paint, here are instructions.


P.S. Our summer online movie discussion club starts July 25th. The theme: Magnificent Horses!

Movie Discussion Club


Happy Birthday, George Selden!

The Cricket in Times Square Arrow Sale

May 14th was author George Selden’s birthday and to celebrate, we’re making a special offer! The Quiver Arrow for his novel, The Cricket in Times Square, is:

HALF PRICE through Wednesday, May 18, 2016 at Midnight EST! ($4.95)


The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden is an enchanting description of the powers of friendship and music. Chester, a cricket from Connecticut, accidentally manages to travel to New York City. In the hustle and bustle of Times Square, he makes his way to a struggling newspaper stand owned by the Bellini family. Through music, Chester is able to overcome the busyness of the city and remind people of the beauty of nature.

An excerpt from the book:

Chester’s playing filled the station. Like ripples around a stone dropped into still water, the circles of silence spread out from the news-stand. And as the people listened, a change came over their faces. Eyes that looked worried grew soft and peaceful; tongues left off chattering; and ears full of the city’s rustling were rested by the cricket’s melody… You wouldn’t think a cricket’s tiny chirp could carry so far, but when all is silence, the piercing notes can be heard for miles.

The Cricket in Times Square provides a great starting place for discussing classical music. A number of works, some lesser known and some more known, are discussed in the book including ‘A Little Night Music’ by Mozart and the sextet from ‘Lucia di Lammermoor.’ Encouraging your children to listen to the music and reflect on it as they read the book is an excellent writing exercise.

So, celebrate George Selden’s birthday and take advantage of our special offer!

Also, if you’d like to buy a copy of the novel, it’s available through Amazon: The Cricket in Times Square (affiliate link).

The Arrow is a monthly digital product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel. It’s geared toward children ages 8-11 and is an indispensable tool for parents who want to teach language arts in a natural, literature-bathed context. Quiver Arrows are especially designed for 1st and 2nd grades and include French-style dictation pages.

Friday Freewrite: Choice

Friday Freewrite

A friend asks you over to play cards on Saturday night. You say yes, and she tells you how much she’s looking forward to it and that she’s baking cookies. Saturday afternoon, though, another friend calls and says she has an extra ticket to a concert you were dying to attend (it was sold out), but it’s also that night! “Will you go with me?” she asks. What do you do? Explain your decision.

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.

The Value of a Gap Year

Take a Gap Year
For years, I’ve been saying at home education conferences that more American high school graduates should take a gap year. ~Susan Wise Bauer

Liam took a gap year. Noah took a gap year. Some people think that the gap year needs to be “something productive.” Noah’s wasn’t anything extraordinary. It was his time to do what he wanted when he wanted to do it. Liam’s was a year of earning money to travel in Europe for a month. Both benefited from not going directly to college following high school.

Johannah is in the middle of several gap years, if you want to look at it that way. When many of her peers went directly into grad school after college, she chose to teach in France for a year, then work in social work for three years in New York and now is living in South America. She’s deferring her admittance to graduate school to continue her travels for one more year.

In your desire to prepare your kids for college, don’t forget that taking time off between high school and college is valuable!

Both Susan and I have shared that students we meet in our college classes who are a little older tend to bring more to the classroom and fare better than their younger peers. Something to enthusiastically consider!

Food for thought:

How Common is a Gap Year? by Adrienne Green

“…an increasingly popular tradition in the United States: the gap year….the year-long deferral where many students choose to travel, pursue special projects, or gain work experience.”

Helpful Facebook discussion on the Brave Writer page.

The Homeschool Alliance