Archive for the ‘Language Arts’ Category

Mechanics & Literature: August 2023

Brave Writer

August’s Dart, Arrow, Boomerang, and Slingshot selections feature adventure-driven plots and strong protagonists. Buckle up for these adventures as you explore the writing, mechanics, and literary devices featured in these stories.

And this month’s Quill is a deep dive into the world of spectacular sea mammals! Make a splash as your family reads picture books, connects with nature, and explores food webs and biodiversity!

Brave Writer Quill
Quill (ages 5-7)

Under the Sea: Sea Mammals

In this Quill, we’ll:

  • explore book anatomy with a scavenger hunt;
  • spot similarities and discover differences;
  • spout off about our favorite marine mammals with descriptive narration;
  • polish fine motor skills with a few grains of sand; 
  • see how humans stack up to whales in an investigation of relative size; and
  • have a ton of fun comparing weights.

In the Brave Writer Book Shop, you’ll find books about sea mammals that we adore! These are not required (you can use any books about sea mammals you have in your stacks or find at your library), but we find it’s helpful to have a list to get you started! Check out the Under the Sea list to start curating your read-aloud stack! 

Get the Quill.

Brave Writer Dart
Dart (ages 8-10)

Odder by Katherine Applegate

A playful, curious, daredevil otter makes for a lovable protagonist in this heartwarming and humorous story told in free verse.

This month’s literary device is verse novels. What are the characteristics of a verse novel? Lyrical beauty and lush language of poetry with the plot-based narrative are the backbone of this form. Join us in August for a closer look! 

Inside this Dart, we’ll also:

  • frolic with a perfect choice of adjectives;
  • get playful with parentheses;
  • cavort with conjunctions;
  • skylark with a series;
  • gambol with verbs;
  • smile over similes; and so much more! 

Purchase the book.

Get the Dart.

Brave Writer Arrow
Arrow (ages 11-12)

Amari and the Great Game by B.B. Alston

Join Amari on an epic adventure to save her brother that could also determine the future of magiciankind. If you’ve just wrapped up vacation, this action-packed novel is the perfect way to jump back into your homeschooling routine!

August’s literary device is puns—an amusing form of wordplay that appeals to all ages!

In this Arrow we’ll also: 

  • set the scene with inventive information;
  • analyze useful, colorful, helpful adjectives
  • find out who’s who using job titles;
  • discuss dynamic dialogue and fill in the details with awesome action beats and attribution tags;
  • predict patterns while we examine possessive apostrophe-S;
  • get up and go with strong action verbs; and so much more! 

A note about content: Amari and the Great Game is the second novel in a series. It can be fully appreciated as a stand-alone story, but your child might also enjoy reading the book that preceded it, Amari and the Night Brothers, also an Arrow.

Purchase the book.

Get the Arrow.

Brave Writer Boomerang
Boomerang (ages 13-14)

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

This suspenseful novel is sure to keep your family turning the pages!

In this Boomerangwe’ll

  • expose exposition;
  • wonder at withholding to create suspense;
  • dig into dialogue;
  • embrace the ellipsis
  • brush up on media literacy;
  • give a nod to adjectives and alliteration;and so much more!

A note about content: The Hunger Games is the first book in a dystopian fiction series that centers around family, friendship, loyalty, compassion, and courage. It deals with potentially charged topics around power and wealth. You, as the parent, can decide if this book is right for your family and how you want to engage in the discourse this book might spark. We encourage parents to read ahead in order to be prepared for deep conversations with teens.

Purchase the book.

Get the Boomerang.

Brave Writer Slingshot
Slingshot (ages 15-18)

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

This beloved classic is full of atmospheric writing, unforgettable characters, and so many literary points to unpack!

In this Slingshot, we’ll:

  • connect with careful character analysis
  • dig through dialogues
  • ruminate over rhetorical questions
  • promenade through punctuation fashions
  • envision visual images of hope and despair, 
  • use synecdoche to see how parts stand in for the whole, and much more.

A note about content: People all over the world or in distant eras are products of the society in which they live. They are susceptible to the norms of their cultures, as are every one of us, for better or for worse. In choosing to include this classic (and time-bound) selection in the Slingshot collection, we open the door to big juicy conversations that contribute to the greater dialogue about racism, sexism, socioeconomic differences, or other prejudices held in the past and, in some quarters, to this day. By using classic literature as a teaching tool to foster understanding and growth, the intimate nature of language and history blend to provide a context in which to discuss these evolving ideologies. You, as the parent, can decide how far you want to step into the room of discourse with your teens as you explore this work.

Purchase the book.

Get the Slingshot.

Brave Writer

Take Your Grammar and Literature Program on the Road

Brave Writer Grammar Literature On the Road

Traveling this summer? Airport layovers, long car rides, and train travel are ripe with opportunities to spotlight grammar and literary elements on the move! 

  • Put on an audiobook in the car that the whole family will enjoy. Follow up with a bookish Big Juicy Conversation.
  • Make a travel log and record sights and sounds observed along the way. 
  • Draw maps of your route or final destination.
  • Watch what letters do out in the wild. Read street signs, billboards, and airport departure boards. 
  • Play the license plate game—how many states can you find and write down before you reach your destination? 
  • Enliven weary travelers with riddles and jokes!

Brave Writer’s Mechanics and Literature programs feature opportunities for learning wherever you go!

Let’s see how

Quill (ages 5–7)

Ride, fly, or sail your way into nurturing pre-literacy skills! The Quill introduces young learners to reading, writing, and math with engaging activities you can do over and over again.

Wherever you’re headed and however you get there, small trips and long journeys provide opportunities to learn as you go!  Use these handbooks to spice up your travel time!

Keep Track with Counting! 

This activity from the Transportation Quill benefits from spontaneity. For instance, as you are driving, say out loud, “That’s the third silver car we’ve seen since we left the house. I wonder how many more we will see before we make it to practice.” If your child joins in, great. If not, try again another time.

Category ideas

  • color of vehicle 
  • type of vehicle: car, freight truck, pick-up truck, van, bus
  • number of people in vehicle 
  • vehicles with signs on them
  • vehicles with something on the roof
  • pickup trucks with something in the back

Depending on where you live and where you are driving or riding the bus or train, these numbers could vary widely. If you are in the city, do you see more buses? On a highway, do you spy more freight trucks? 

Hash it out!  

Once your child has experienced counting using various categories, work with your child to set up sets. 

  • How many silver cars versus red cars? 
  • How many cars versus pickup trucks? 
  • How many cars with one person versus cars with more than one person? 

Set up a clipboard to help keep track of how many you and your child spy in each category. Your child will add a hash mark each time one of you sees a vehicle that falls into the category. If necessary, draw a picture to represent each category for your pre-reader. 

Count the number in each category to see which had the most and which had the least. 

Explore literature, grammar, and punctuation on the road the Bravewriter way!

Our Dart, Arrow, Boomerang, and Slingshot literature handbooks feature one novel per month and use weekly passages for copywork and dictation. They explore punctuation, grammar, spelling, literary devices, and literary analysis.

Try it prompts

Try It prompts, featured in every handbook, engage kids and teens with concepts through simple movement, discussion, and hands-on activities. Many of these activities travel well!   

Explore the sampling of Try It activities below—take them on your next travel adventure!

Dart (ages 8–10)

This Try It from the Dragons in a Bag Dart is a perfect way to pass the time in airports, train stations, and parking lots! 

Shrug, stomp, sigh.

Get playful with body language! Have your child act out gestures from the list below and discuss what emotion or characteristic the action conveys. 

  • shrugging your shoulders
  • waving a hand in the air
  • furrowing your brow
  • stamping a foot
  • covering your mouth with your hands
  • putting both hands on your hips

Now reverse the game: what physical gesture might you use: 

  • when you see the cutest puppy ever?
  • when you find out you’ve won a contest?
  • when you bite into an apple and see a worm inside?
  • when you bite an apple and see half a worm?
  • when you open a box and discover baby dragons inside?

Act out the body language and then describe it in words!

Arrow (ages 11–12)

This Try It from The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden Arrow will have your child hearing words in wondrous new ways!

Listen up!

Use your powers of keen observation during a family meal or car ride. Notice how real-life dialogue happens. Does everyone follow the “rules” of written dialogue, speaking in orderly statements, one at a time? Or do they interrupt, blurt things out in unison, and finish each other’s sentences?

Boomerang (age 13–14)

The Ruins of Gorlan Boomerang gives teens an opportunity to contemplate dialogue unfolding naturally around them: 

Writing vivid, descriptive dialogue

It takes time to develop dialogue-writing skills. To practice, tune into conversations around you—yes, eavesdrop—and hone your ear to “real” dialogue. You’ll find that back-and-forth speech often does not play by the same “rules” as formal written expression.

After listening, transcribe the conversation, adding attribution tags and narrative to fill out the scene.

Try incorporating a couple elements such as facial expressions, tone of voice, actions, emotions, or sensory details, and then read the scene aloud. Can the reader follow along? Do the tags offer character- or scene-building details?

The benefits of learning in a new environment

Learning opportunities follow wherever we go. Revisiting familiar concepts in new surroundings is the perfect way to cement ideas. Introducing new information in a fresh relaxing setting is a low-pressure way to make exciting learning connections.  

Bonus: You might have so much fun with these new activities that the next traffic jam or overbooked flight becomes a fond travel memory! Enjoy! 

Looking for books to take on your travels?



Boomerangs & Slingshots

Ready for an online class?

Our asynchronous classes make online learning and travel a perfect pair!

There are so many classes to choose from! Check out the Online Class schedule to see which ones fit into your summer plans.

Need a recommendation?

Fan Fiction (June 19 – July 14) is a fantastic class for teens who love to write or for teens who are reluctant to write but are devoted to a fandom! By the end of this class, teens will have created a story worthy of publication on one of the many websites devoted to fan fiction, if desired.

What better way is there to spend the summer?

Brave Learner Home Members!

Check out the One Thing Challenge library for ready-made travel activities! 

Brave Learner Home

2023-2024 Arrow, Boomerang, and Slingshot Programs

Brave Writer

Here are the titles for the coming academic year for our Arrow, Boomerang, and Slingshot programs!

ARROW (ages 11-12)
BOOMERANG (ages 13-14)
SLINGSHOT (ages 15-18)

Watch the REPLAY of the Live Broadcast

At Brave Writer, we take the selection of these book titles Very Seriously!

All year, we read, discuss, and delight in the year’s latest fiction as well as relishing the classics.

  • We aim for diversity of authorship and protagonists.
  • We incorporate a variety of genres: fantasy to the classics.
  • We carefully orchestrate the sequence of the books.
  • We balance book length against the holiday demands of a given month.
  • We alternate moving, poignant books with silly, lighthearted books.
  • We launch the year with a sure-fire winner and end with a warmhearted one.

Hope you’ll join us for an AWESOME year of learning and reading.

Excited for you as your family embarks on an inspired reading journey!

Looking for the book selections for younger kidsGo here!

Brave Writer

2023-2024 Quill and Dart Programs

Brave Writer

Here are the titles (categories for the Quill*) for the coming academic year for our Quill and Dart programs!

QUILL (ages 5-7)
DART (ages 8-10)

Watch the REPLAY of the Live Broadcast

At Brave Writer, we take the selection of these book titles Very Seriously!

We read, discuss, and delight in the year’s latest fiction as well as relishing the classics.

  • We aim for diversity of authorship and protagonists.
  • We incorporate a variety of genres: fantasy to the classics.
  • We carefully orchestrate the sequence of the books.
  • We balance book length against the holiday demands of a given month.
  • We alternate moving, poignant books with silly, lighthearted books.
  • We launch the year with a sure-fire winner and end with a warmhearted one.

Hope you’ll join us for an AWESOME year of learning and reading.

Excited for you as your family embarks on an inspired reading journey!

*Difference between the Quill and Dart

The Quill covers reading, writing, and math—with six activities, two for each focus area, that can be done again and again with your kids using different books. It helps build the essential skills kids need in:

  • reading,
  • writing,
  • and math.

Unlike our other programs, it offers a list of suggested picture books that relate to a theme, but you don’t need to purchase a specific book or books for the Quill like you do for the Dart or Arrow.

The Quill acts as both your manual and planner with spaces to write planning notes and reflections about your child’s learning and experience with the activities. The Guidelines for using the Quill are built into each handbook—there are no separate guidelines.

Download a Quill SAMPLE.

Brave Writer

Replays: Jumpstart Webinars

Brave Writer Jumpstart Webinars

Here are four FREE webinars that help you understand both the philosophy and practice of Brave Writer’s literature + writing mechanics programs for ages 5-18.

Each webinar is jam-packed with information to help you be successful this coming school year, in addition to helping you understand Brave Writer materials.

Replays are below.

Why Teach Writing Mechanics with Living Literature?

The best books, the best words—allow your children to be bathed in high quality writing while they learn the mechanics and craft of writing.


Effective Teaching: Grammar, Punctuation, Spelling

Our programs offer a gentle, seamless way to build strong writing skills! Julie will show you how.


Literary Analysis & Writer’s Craft

To grow a writing voice, it helps to listen to and learn from a wide variety of writing voices. Not only that, literary analysis can be the tool that unlocks buried treasure in a book and we intend to help you dig!


Start Your Homeschool with Julie + Q&A

Sale Q&A plus big news: Start Your Homeschool with Julie!

Join Julie to answer your last questions before the sale ends. Also, Julie is announcing her brand new program for new homeschoolers, or those who want to change how they homeschool. Learn all the details by registering now. Space is limited.


Brave Writer