Free Verse Success!

Halloween free verse

From Brave Writer mom, Alexandra:

Good morning Julie!

First, I want to thank you again for bringing such joy in our home with your writing and language arts curriculum! My daughter was a late bloomer with reading. She only started being really comfortable with reading last year. Writing is something that stressed her out. She would block herself, saying that she couldn’t write. She would refuse to put anything on paper. She could physically write but refused. I honestly didn’t know what to do. I followed your advice and took a gentle approach. I explained to her that she could write and that I would be happy to spell every word if that is what she wanted or that she could write things as she thought they should be and we could fix the spelling later.

We often followed this pattern: she would tell me what she wanted to write, I would write it down for her, then she would copy it. With the shark mini book, she started taking my short points and building them into sentences. That was a huge step for her!

Today, I read your instructions for the free verse exercise in The Arrow to her and she chose which prompt to do for the free write process. I spelled a few words for her but she did it all and without stressing herself.

Here is her freewrite:


Last Halloween my sister and her school had a haunted basement and it was haunted. It was like a tunnel and a lot of rooms that you go in. My sister grabbed my leg, and someone said my name.

I told her her writing was good. I did ask her if she wanted to add anything, a little more of what the prompt mentioned. She said no. I wanted to push a little but realized that this was enough for her. She finally was comfortable with the idea of writing, I couldn’t ruin it.

We continued with the exercise. She didn’t get it at first, cutting away some of her words must have been weird, especially after she worked hard to write these on paper! But after we read the tips in the appendix, she went to work.

Here is her free verse poem version:


Last Halloween
my sister and her school
had a haunted basement

It was haunted
a tunnel
rooms you go in.
my sister grabbed my leg
someone said my name!

She told me once she was done gluing the poem down that she loved poetry. I told her she could do another one next week. She said yes and told me she would do one on Christmas!

I am so happy. The books in The Arrow we have read so far have been fabulous. Celeste has gone on to read all the books in the Lemonade Series because she liked the first one so much. She re-read the first one three times. Now she is already starting to re-read the Inside Out & Back Again, even if we are not finished yet!

Thank you again for putting together wonderful, interesting, but still challenging language arts programs!


Image of Celeste working on her free verse project (cc)

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