A Brave Writer’s Life in Brief

Thoughts from my jungle to yours

Friday Freewrite: Shout!

Yell freewrite

Think about the last time you wanted to shout about something. Now use lots of capital letters and YELL WITH YOUR WRITING!

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.

Image by Sharon Mollerus (cc cropped)

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Passion for Writing

Passion for Writing by Charlotte MeertOver the next few weeks our summer interns will share their writing experiences with us. Finlay went first. Today we hear from Charlotte:

Passion for Writing
by Charlotte Meert

I started really writing in 1st grade. I wasn’t homeschooled yet, but my mom read us stories every night. From the moment I could understand what a story was, I wanted to write.

My teacher at the time had a certain policy. We were to write one to two pages of anything we wanted, every day in class. We weren’t allowed to go home until we had something we could show her. I guess the habit stuck. I still write mainly by hand in notebooks, and what I love I type into the computer.

After 4th grade and some nasty school experiences, my mom kept me home. I flourished, and wrote more and more, even dabbling in poetry a little. I discovered a passion for fiction and for creating characters out of whatever inspiration I could find. The beauty of it was that with homeschooling, I had as much time as I wanted.

Passion for Writing by Charlotte MeertMy junior year of high school, I went back to a brick and mortar. It was unpleasant, to put it lightly. The classes were so far behind where I had been at home, I was incredibly bored. So I wrote. I could never finish anything, but it was comforting to disappear inside my notebook pages and forget that all my friends were homeschooled, and not in the building with me.

The English teacher was the only one who noticed. She issued me a challenge. If I could finish a story by the end of the year, I would get an automatic A. She’d help me edit, and then find a publisher, but I had to be done within the nine month period. If I didn’t finish, I’d fail the class. I worked my butt off. I wrote every day–ten, twenty pages, sometimes more. I did little else at school, and relaxed at home. My lunch breaks were writing breaks, my free period, same, my study hall, same. It’s really quite useful to write by hand, as teachers seemed to think I was working on assignments for their classes. And it worked! I wrote a 250 page novel on Russian spies in less than nine months. True to her word, my teacher helped me edit.

Then, quite suddenly, she disappeared. Her email stopped working, and her phone. No one seems to know where she went. I was accepted by a publisher within six months of having finished editing with a professional’s help. I was never able to find that teacher again. I asked the school’s principal, who should really know where his staff vanish to, and he told me she was in London. Another staff member extended condolences, telling me she’d died, while a third told me she’d divorced and moved to Miami. As far as I know, she was single when I knew her. Maybe she was CIA, or part of an underground movement for the liberation of chipmunks. At least I seem to have my next inspiration for a novel.

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Poetry Teatime: With the Boys

Poetry Tea with the Boys by Holly Smothers Grantham

A must read teatime post by Holly Smothers Grantham! An excerpt:

My boys don’t know it, but Poetry and Tea Time is just as much for me. I love how this ritual restores my weary soul and breathes new life into stale corners. It can be overwhelming to be totally responsible for your children’s education and, honestly, some days it feels like my kids are getting the short end of the Teacher of the Year stick. Just when it feels like everything has gone south for the day (or week), this little corner of our routine is powerfully restorative. Sharing poetry with your favorite people is, at its simplest, delightful and, at its best, redemptive.

Read Holly’s post here.

Image by Jenni Douglas (cc cropped, text added)

Want to start your own Poetry Teatime? Here’s how.

Would you like your family featured on Tuesday Teatime? Email us your teatime photos with a few lines about your experience (put “Teatime” in the subject line). If we share on our blog then you’ll receive a free Arrow or Boomerang title of your choice (once per family). Note: all submissions fall under Creative Commons licensing.

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Happy Birthday, E.B. White!

charlottes webby Brave Writer intern, Amy Hughes

It’s the birthday of E. B. White! To celebrate, we’re making a special offer! The Quiver Arrow (especially designed for 1st and 2nd graders) for his novel, Charlotte’s Web, is:

HALF PRICE through July 13
at Midnight EDT ($4.95!)


Born July 11, 1899, E.B. White’s best-known novel is Charlotte’s Web, a timeless novel that describes where friendship, death and the enduring power of hope meet.

E.B. White’s prose is concise and descriptive of the beauties of the countryside. In this story of barnyard creatures, Wilbur, a pig, forms a friendship with the spider Charlotte.

Born and bought up on a farm, E. B. White loved animals from an early age. While E. B. White wrote newspaper columns to earn his living, he wrote a number of books about animals, including Stuart Little. Charlotte’s Web was inspired by his own attempt to nurse a sick pig back to life that had initially been destined for the butchery.

Here is a sample from the text to demonstrate the wonderful way in which E. B. White describes the seasons and weather of the country:

The next day was rainy and dark. Rain fell on the roof of the barn and dripped steadily from the eaves. Rain fell in the barnyard and ran in crooked courses down into the lane where thistles and pigweed grew. Rain spattered against Mrs. Zuckerman’s kitchen windows and came gushing out of the downspouts. Rain fell on the backs of the sheep as they grazed in the meadow. When the sheep tired of standing in the rain, they walked slowly up the lane and into the fold.

So take advantage of our special offer today!

Also, if you’d like to buy a copy of the novel, it’s available through Amazon: Charlotte’s Web (affiliate link).

The Arrow is a digital product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel. A Quiver of Arrows is especially written for a younger set and includes a French-style dictation passage each week.

Image by Amazon.com

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Friday Freewrite: Fireworks

Friday Freewrite: Should backyard fireworks be legal?

July 4th saw a number of injuries and at least one death due to improper use of fireworks at someone’s home. Should backyard fireworks be legal? Why or why not.

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.

Image by Scott Akerman (cc cropped)

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Time Travel Writing Project

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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Permeated my very existence

Brave Writer Intern Finlay WorralloMy time as a Brave Writer student

by Finlay Worrallo

I feel like Brave Writer has permeated my very existence. It gave my mum endless ideas about home education, which influenced the way she brought my siblings and me up. She jokes that without Brave Writer she would probably have gone insane long ago. It’s offered no end of help and has guided us through home education since we began. It can sometimes feel scary, educating your children yourself, making your own way though the childhood years without the safety net of school, worrying that your way of life is wrong and your children aren’t learning enough. Brave Writer has showed us that we’re not alone; that there are many home educating families in the world; and that it’s a way of life that works.

It was Brave Writer that got us into Poetry Teatime, a beloved tradition we’ve stuck to for over six years and enjoy every Thursday these days. We eat cake, drink tea and read poems to each other. Now, I don’t see poems as intimidating things in books to be studied, but rather as old friends to sit down and have a cup of tea with. We’ve also had countless friends and neighbors round for Poetry Teatime, strengthening those friendships and passing the tradition on.

Another Brave Writer-guided activity we did was film studies. I think that’s a classic image of home education: a mother and children together on a sofa, eating popcorn, watching a Disney movie and calling it learning. And we learned about plot, character, development and satisfying endings – so it jolly well was learning!

Doing The Arrow and The Boomerang taught me a lot about understanding and appreciating literature. By having my reading directed, I was introduced to many great writers, from Charles Dickens to P.G. Wodehouse; and by copying out chosen passages in my best handwriting, I learned about fine language and great writing.

With the Groovy Grammar Workshop, I made long lists of words I liked the sound of and eventually wrote a poem based on Jabberwocky called Snacajoby, filled with nonsense words like “amoj” and “amossa” (they mean “warm” and “famished” respectively). Kidswrite Basic taught me a lot about the process of creating a piece of writing. Guided by my mum, I wrote down elements I wanted to use, did a series of freewrites, then directed all my thoughts together to produce a finished piece: a piece of fiction describing the house I’d like to live in as an adult, with two libraries and a laboratory full of explosions.

Freewriting — scribbling your thoughts onto the paper freely without worrying about what they look or sound like — is one of the most valuable techniques I’ve learned from Brave Writer. It’s the simplest way of getting the bare ingredients of your story down onto the paper, and is far quicker and more productive than painstakingly writing carefully considered words and trying to make each one perfect first try.

Overall, I think Brave Writer has encouraged my development as a writer, a student and a person; and I think it’s been one of the defining factors of my childhood.

Image by Finlay Worrallo

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Poetry Teatime 101

Amongst Lovely Things: Poetry Teatime Video Workshop

Don’t miss this informative and fun

Poetry Teatime Video Workshop!

WHAT: A live Poetry Teatime video workshop with Julie
WHEN: Wednesday, July 8th @ 12:30 Pacific
WHERE: Sarah Mackenzie’s Amongst Lovely Things

Just $5 to join–SIGN UP NOW

Image by Sarah Mackenzie

Would you like your family featured on Tuesday Teatime? Email us your teatime photos with a few lines about your experience (put “Teatime” in the subject line). If we share on our blog then you’ll receive a free Arrow or Boomerang title of your choice (once per family). Note: all submissions fall under Creative Commons licensing.

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Student Spotlight: Caleb!

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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Friday Freewrite: Mealtime

child eating

Remember a mealtime that was filled with emotion–humor, anxiety, sadness. Retell it so that readers can see, hear, taste, and smell it as if they were there. Make them feel what it was like.

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.

Image by andy carter (cc cropped, tinted)

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