Friday Freewrite: Body Swap

Friday Freewrite

You wake up one day to discover you’ve somehow swapped bodies with a family member! What happens next?

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.

Poet Highlight: Emily Dickinson

Poet Highlight Emily Dickinson

During the month of April we’re highlighting Poetry Teatime in the Brave Writer Lifestyle, which makes this a fitting time to break out some Emily Dickinson along with the teapot!

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On December 10, 1830, Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts. Although she would write nearly 1,800 poems over the course of her life, very little of her poetry was published during her lifetime and even those that were published were edited to be more “conventional.” Dickinson’s poetry did not become well-known until after her death.

An infamous recluse, Dickinson remained in contact with her friends primarily through letters. She wrote poetry throughout her life, which she kept in tied-up “bundles.” Her sister discovered these bundles after Dickinson’s death and had them published in an altered form. Dickinson’s work would not be published in anything resembling its original form until later.

Dickinson’s distinctive poetic style is notable for its use of short lines, non-standard grammar, and unconventional rhyme schemes. In particular, her poetry utilizes slant rhyme, which happens when the poet chooses words that nearly rhyme but don’t quite. In other words: she was a rule breaker!

Dickinson’s poems represent an opportunity for young readers to see a respected poet playing with language freely. So, boil some tea and enjoy the word play!

A note to parents: Emily Dickinson’s poetry at times deals with some heavy themes, most often surrounding death. We recommend reading the poems yourself before deciding if they are right for your family.


The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson – In this BrainPOP YouTube video (8 min.), “Tim and Moby examine the life of the celebrated poet and explore one of her groundbreaking poems. ‘A Bird came down the Walk’ [which] illustrates Dickinson’s lyric style, her vivid imagery and figurative language, and her innovative use of slant rhyme.”

Emily – If your kids are too young for her poetry, this beautifully illustrated picture book follows a little girl who lives across the street from Emily Dickinson.

Join the Homeschool Alliance
This month we’re sharing our favorite poems!

Writing Coach Interview: Jen Holman

Writing Coach Interview Jen Holman

Continuing our series of interviews with our marvelous writing instructors, here’s the latest installment: an interview with the wonderful Jen Holman!

Jen Holman has been teaching for Brave Writer since 2015 after being a long time user of Brave Writer products in her own homeschool. Jen’s foundation for teaching lies in her experience working with university students on essays for their classes. Teaching literary analysis and essay writing for Brave Writer is a perfect combination of academic and personal interests. Her husband’s work has allowed their family to travel extensively in the last few years, and Jen has taught her classes from around the world, on trains, in airports. This past year they settled down in Canada to live near their families.

What kind of a writer were you in high school?
I wish I could say that this period produced some of my most sophisticated writing. INSTEAD I will say that I wrote everyday, voraciously! There was no texting in that day, or even email. My friends and I exchanged what we called “notes.” These varied between a few lines and a page, sometimes two, or three, scribbled on loose leaf paper while on buses, study hall, in between classes. They outlined the days of our lives at the time. There was compelling drama! Irony! Vivid detail! (Everything your creative writing teacher wants you to practice wink).

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Brave Writer Podcast: Integrating Cultural & Language Learning in Your Homeschool with Anne Guarnera

Brave Writer Podcast interview with Anne Guarnera
Anne Guarnera has always been passionate about learning, languages in particular. She shares her passion for language learning with her husband, Daniel, and they are now introducing that love of language to their two young sons – and to the rest of the homeschooling community through Language Learning at Home.

In this episode, Anne shares how (and why) cultural learning can be integrated into any homeschool curriculum, even if you don’t speak a second language yourself.

Language Learning

Often, the strategies for learning languages that we use in U.S. high schools are really poor at delivering… well, language learning. You might learn to appreciate the language, but relatively few people graduate their high school French or Spanish classes with a firm grasp of the language.

Anne thinks there are two things missing from traditional language education in the United States:

  1. The bigger context of why language learning is important.
  2. The explicit instruction of how to learn a language.

“The point of language learning is to learn how to relate well to other people because we want to be able to understand the world from their perspective, and potentially be changed.” It’s about being able to communicate with those who are different from you, whose lives may vary wildly from your own, and opening yourself up to learning from them and from their cultures. Language learning is uniquely powerful in that it is really about other people and learning to love them.

That human element, that greater context, is frequently lacking – too often, these courses are treated as a competitive academic exercise, or just a requirement on a high school or college transcript.

This is also why it’s important that we make language learning more than memorization and rules. At Brave Writer, we’re always big fans of weaving enchantment into your education, and it’s so easy to do with language learning: make food from the target culture, do Poetry Teatime in the target language, or read picture books about countries where the language is spoken.

If you make connections between the language and the people who speak it, your child will have a “big picture” view of how and why they might actually use the foreign language.

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Friday Freewrite: Squirrel Problems

Movie Wednesday Squirrel Problems

Write from the point of view of a squirrel who can’t remember where it buried its stash of nuts.

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.