Archive for the ‘Deep Dive’ Category

Build a Unit Study: Winter/Holiday

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DEEP DIVE with us into the magical world of Harry Potter!

Brave Writer DEEP DIVE into the magical world of Harry Potter

Whether your kids are new to Harry Potter or veteran “Potterheads,” this delightful franchise primarily following the journey of the Boy Who Lived is not only enchanting to experience but is also a great opportunity to DEEP DIVE into literary techniques, adaptation theory, and even playwriting!

The Harry Potter universe is rich with diverse forms of storytelling and delves into universal themes such as love, loss, and the need to make a stand for what one believes in.

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The first installment of the Harry Potter novels by J.K. Rowling was published in the UK in 1997. As difficult as it may be to believe now, at the time Rowling was a complete unknown. A first-time author, she had written much of the first Harry Potter novel in a small flat while desperately trying to support herself and her young daughter. She had no idea that her little novel would explode into one of the biggest franchises of all time!

The Story

The Harry Potter series follows a boy wizard who, at its onset, does not know he is a wizard. An orphan raised by his abusive aunt and uncle, and tormented by his cousin, Harry believes there is nothing special about him at all, until one day a giant arrives and informs Harry that he is a wizard. Not only that but somehow, as a baby, Harry survived an attack from the greatest dark wizard of all time, Lord Voldemort. Harry’s parents died in the attack, but miraculously Harry survived with only a lightning bolt shaped scar on his forehead, and Voldemort’s powers were broken.

Harry leaves behind his miserable life with his aunt and uncle and begins magical training at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. There he meets his best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, and together they face mysterious plots, the impending return of Lord Voldemort, and perhaps most terrifying of all…end of year exams!

Diving In

The Harry Potter franchise now encompasses a book series, film adaptations, supplementary materials, a play, and now new films taking place long before Harry ever went to Hogwarts. It is one of the most successful and well-loved franchises and it provides a wealth of language rich experiences for kids and teens.

One of the wonderful things about Harry Potter is that you can decide how deeply you want to dive. If your child only wants to read the books, there is still so much to be learned, discussed, and examined. But if they want to read the books and watch the films, or if they want to take the full plunge into paratexts and prequels and plays, there is so, so much to be discovered.

Brave Writer Resources

A great resource for your deep dive is our Arrow guide for the first Harry Potter novel. The Arrow is the monthly digital product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel.

You can also register for our Arrow Book Club in May, which will cover the first Harry Potter novel.

In addition, we have Movie Wednesday posts for the first Harry Potter film as well as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. They include summaries and discussion questions, along with party ideas, recipes, and crafts.

Need even more discussion questions for Big Juicy Conversations?

Here are some more ideas to give your kids food for thought.

  • Is Harry an unreliable narrator? The books are primarily from Harry’s point of view and present his thoughts and feelings as integrated parts of the narrative. Multiple times in the books, Harry makes assumptions about characters and their motives which are often proven wrong at the end, even though these assumptions are presented as fact at first. Should we ever completely trust Harry’s observations, then?
  • A red herring is when a writer deliberately misleads the reader to come to an incorrect conclusion. Perhaps the most famous red herring in the Harry Potter series is Sirius Black in the Prisoner of Azkaban. Can you think of any other red herrings in the series? Which ones and did any of them fool you the first time?
  • If you looked into the Mirror of Erised, what do you think you would see?
  • The Goblet of Fire film is noticeably different from the book it adapts in order to conform to time constraints. When the movies were being made, there were quite a few fans who felt that the fourth book should have been adapted into two films instead of trying to cram the whole book (it’s over 700 pages long!) into a single film. Do you think the fourth Harry Potter film suffers from such heavy condensing or do you think the streamlined structure makes for a better film? Explain your answer.

A note to parents: Although the first three Harry Potter films are rated PG, many of the later films are rated PG-13 and contain some dark, mature, or frightening elements. We recommend looking up the films on sites such as Common Sense Media before deciding if they are right for your family.

The ArrowLearn language arts with the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Arrow!

The Arrow is the monthly digital product that features copywork and dictation passages from a specific read aloud novel (you purchase or obtain the novels yourself). 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.

DEEP DIVE into Jane Austen’s World

Deep Dive into Jane Austen

DEEP DIVE into the world of Jane Austen!

If your kids are already avid Austen fans or are reluctant to take the plunge into her literary works, these additional resources (including film adaptions, biopics, and books inspired by her work) will enhance the experience of the avid fan as well as offer a more accessible “in” for those who are unsure.

[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases,
Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]

Jane Austen’s novels were originally published anonymously (several with the byline “By a Lady”) and brought her little fame in her lifetime. Two of her works were in fact only published after her death. Though she might not have been a household name in her time, she certainly is now. People of all ages and walks of life have enjoyed her stories across generations, as attested by the fact that her novels have been continuously in print since 1833.

Austen’s novels deal with concerns of marriage, social standing, etiquette, financial (in)stability, the importance of reputation, and the roles of women in society. The particulars of life in the 1800s may no longer be strictly relevant in the 21st Century, but Austen’s themes still resonate with readers to this day.

There is a wealth of material exploring Austen’s writing, her life, and her impact on her readership. So, let’s dive in!

Pride and Prejudice Quote


Pride and Prejudice begins when two rich, eligible bachelors, Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy, move into the previously quiet countryside, stirring up a buzz of excitement as the ambitious Mrs. Bennett sees an opportunity to make advantageous marriages for her older daughters, Lizzie and Jane. Jane and Mr. Bingley immediately gravitate towards each other, but Lizzie overhears Mr. Darcy making snide comments about her family and determines that she will never like him. But fate has other plans as the unlikely pair are continuously thrown together and begin developing feelings which surprise them both.

First published in 1813, Jane Austen’s seminal comedy of manners has delighted readers and viewers alike and has been adapted to screen numerous times. This has the happy result of providing many choices for television and movie viewing. Some of the most notable are the 1995 BBC miniseries and the more recent 2005 film.

In addition, if you will be reading Pride and Prejudice, our Boomerang for the book provides a month’s worth of copywork/dictation, notes on grammar and literary style, as well as “think piece questions” to aid your children with literary analysis of the text.

Sense and Sensibility is the story of the Dashwood sisters, whose father passes away and leaves everything to their half-brother forcing them to move out of their own home and live meagerly with a distant relative. There the young women encounter love and heartache as they navigate their new social status.

Published in 1811, Sense and Sensibility was adapted into a film in 1995 directed by Ang Lee and starring Emma Thompson. This film is partially credited with a boom in interest around Austen’s work.

Becoming Jane is less of a biopic (the actual details of the authoress’s life are murky) than it is an ode to Austen’s published works. The film is partially based on the book Becoming Jane Austen by Jon Hunter Spence but plays fast and loose with historical fact. Still, have fun picking out the many references to Austen’s stories, particularly Pride and Prejudice.


Enjoy Jane Austen’s novels, of course.

Also in Polly Shulman’s Enthusiasm, Julie’s best friend, Ashleigh, is a Jane Austen enthusiast. Though Julie might not be as enthusiastic, both girls love Pride and Prejudice leading them to dress up in period clothes and sneak into a dance at an all-boys school looking for true love.


  • Write the proposal scene in Pride and Prejudice from the rejected Mr. Collins’s point of view.
  • If you could be Elinor Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility for a day, what would you do?
  • Write about the scene in which Lizzie and Mr. Darcy dance together for the first time from the point of view of the dance floor.


YouTube videos:

Regency Era Hairstyle Tutorial

What a Jane Austen Junk Journal might look like (How to Make a Junk Journal Tutorial)


Jane Austen’s World – all about Jane Austen

Deep Investigation Led by Fascination!