How We Use the Brave Writer Program + Win a Brave Writer Poetry Guide

April is National Poetry Month and our favorite folks over at Brave Writer are sponsoring a giveaway of Poetry Guides to three lucky Creekside Learning readers. But first, let me tell you about how our family uses the Brave Writer program.

How We Use the Brave Writer Program

The Brave Writer program was designed by Julie Bogart, a homeschooling mom of five, to help parents be a coach to their children’s writing voice. Our family has been using Brave Writer for two years and it has worked really well for us.  I love that this program grows with your kids. We started out in the Jot It Down phase, where my kids would dictate their writing, in their voice, to me. This year, my oldest is delving in to the Partnership Writing phase. In the fall, he hopes to try out his first on-line class (Brave Writer offers many).  

Most significant of all has been the difference I’ve seen in my kids when I ask them to write.  The Writer’s Jungle, which is the cornerstone of all the Brave Writer programs, has helped us leap to the Brave Writer lifestyle.

We went from [Read more…]

It’s Brave Writer Giveaway Time!

bravewriterlogoThe awesome and inspiring Julie Bogart, creator of the Brave Writer program is sponsoring this post and giving away two of her products:   Exploring Poetry With Children and Brave Writer Goes to the Movies.

Julie Bogart, creator of Brave Writer

Julie Bogart, creator of Brave Writer

Julie is a mom of five who homeschooled for 17 years.  She is a professional writer turned coach to parents teaching their children how to write. Brave Writer has taught thousands of families all over the world since it began in the year 2000.

I had the pleasure of meeting Julie and hearing her speak at a conference last year. We began using the Brave Writer curriculum at home shortly thereafter. Reading The Writer’s Jungle introduced me to a new way of thinking about language arts, what Julie calls the Brave Writer Lifestyle.  We adopted this style and it’s been a perfect fit for us. To read my full review of the Brave Writer products, click here.

The Brave Writer Lifestyle puts the emphasis on growing creative writers, working with your child rather than power struggling through assignments. Instead of making sentence and paragraph structure the most intense focus in the early years, the idea is to grow kids who are confident in their writing ability, who can be creative and communicate their ideas on paper (or screen) effectively.

The Giveaways

Giveaway #1  Exploring Poetry With Children  and a copy of  the book Read Aloud Poems for Young People, by Glorya Hale.  Exploring Poetry With Children is a guide from The Arrow,  one of Brave Writer’s downloadable digital subscriptions.  The poetry guide contains four weeks of exercises and learning activities, which are used in conjunction with Glorya Hale’s poetry book. Julie also shares other ideas that will help your family engage in the practice of poetry that everyone will enjoy. The guide is ideal for 8 to 11 year olds and may be appropriate for some 12 year olds.

Disclosure: Amazon affiliate link.

Giveaway #2  Brave Writer Goes to the Movies  is an e-document that provides several pages of writing prompts and ideas to analyze the setting, characters, message,  plot development and more, of films.   Treating high quality films as an essential part of our childrens’ education is part of the Brave Writer lifestyle. The advantages include a film’s ability to tell a full plot in approximately two hours and the advantage of traveling to other places in the world and in history. Watching movies with your kids and discussing them during and afterwards, writing down what your kids say about them or having them write their thoughts can all be useful learning tools.  This guide is appropriate for ages 8 to 18.

Connect with Brave Writer

You can find Julie on Twitter and Facebook, where she often shares gems of advice, but for more inspiration, sign up for the Daily Writing Tip email. You get a FREE writing report with freewriting practices when you sign up.

How To Enter This Giveaway

  1. Go to the What is Brave Writer? page of Julie’s  site and read it.
  2. Then come back here, to Creekside Learning, and leave a comment at the bottom of this post about what stood out for you or what you identify with or what intrigues you about the Brave Writer program.
  3. Include in your comment which product you are most interested in winning, Brave Writer Goes to the Movies or the Exploring Poetry With Young Children/Read Aloud Poems for Young People combo. If you’re interested in winning either of the products, that’s fine, too. Just mention that in your comment. Note the target ages for each of the products above.
  4. Include a way for me to get in touch with you if you win.

Terms: One winner for each product will be chosen at random on Monday, April 1st, 2013 at midnight, EST.  Must live in the US to enter.

 Follow my Poetry Kids board on Pinterest.
Poetry Kids on Pinterest

Curriculum Review: Brave Writer –and Give Away!

From the first time that I heard the founder of Brave Writer, Julie Bogart, speak, I knew that this was not your average language arts curriculum.

I could not absorb Julie’s ideas fast enough at that homeschooling conference last Spring. I rushed home and immediately implemented Tuesday Tea Time.  It was an instant hit with my kids and we’ve been doing it every week since.

I was eager to find out more about Brave Writer.  I have a daughter who is learning how to read and a son who is a”reluctant writer”.  My 8-year-old son has absolutely hated to write anything other than his name. This is a struggle that has been going on for nearly 3 years. I had heard from some other homeschooling parents that the Brave Writer program had effective tools for those “reluctant writers”.

So, when I wrote to Julie and asked her if I could review the entire Brave Writer program, and she said yes, I was thrilled. I was at our neighborhood pool and checked my email on my phone. When I got her answer, I did a little happy dance right there on the pool deck.  Oh, yes, I did.

Julie Bogart, creator of the Brave Writer program.

So, let me tell you how Brave Writer started. It’s the creation of Julie Bogart, a homeschooling mom of five, who began writing this curriculum 12 years ago at her kitchen table.  Since then, she has grown her company to include on-line classes and at-home curriculum for elementary through high school students, all centered around what she calls The Brave Writer Lifestyle.

In this review, I’m going to tell you about the highlights of Brave Writer,  then I’ll detail the  components of the  program.  Finally, I will show you how we are using it in action with my 6 and 8 year olds thus far.  I’ll come back from time to time to show you how things are progressing as we delve into using Brave Writer this coming school year. And, you’ll have a chance  to enter to win a free Brave Writer product in this post.

I just finished reading The Writer’s Jungle, which is the cornerstone of the Brave Writer program. It’s a lot to absorb, and I mean that in a good way.   I felt the same way after hearing Julie Bogart speak.  There are so many useful tools and nuggets of information.  Let me give you some examples:

  • Creating a language-rich home with good read-aloud books, discussion after viewing movies, regular reading of poetry, keeping of nature journals, making of lists, descriptions of art, and so on is more important than grammar lessons in the development of good writers. (Italics mine; not that grammar is not needed, more on that later.)
  • Giving your children the language rich experiences mentioned above will give them the words to “populate their writing”.
  • Create an environment with writing routines, not schedules, but if your child gets a better idea, go with that. It’s okay if they write something and don’t finish it. All writers do that.
  • Model the writing process for your child. If they are keeping a nature journal, you keep one too.  If they are freewriting for 10 minutes, you do it as well.
  • Approach your child’s process of learning to write with comfort and compassion.  Believe that your child will be a self-reliant writer by adulthood. Good writing doesn’t take off until around age 16 to 18.
  • Put your relationship with your child first. Your child, is after all, more important than any product they produce.

Good stuff, isn’t it?

What does the Brave Writer program consist of?

The Writer’s Jungle is the main resource to the Brave Writer program, the manual of this curriculum. It is full of ideas on how to make your home language-rich, how to partner with your child to develop their writing voice, how to minimize power struggles, how to work with a child who is a “reluctant writer”, and so much more.
It also details the six stages of writing.  Briefly, those stages include Jot It Down, Partnership Writing, Faltering Ownership, Transition to Ownership, Eavesdropping on “The Great Conversation”, and Fluency and Ownership.  There are ages associated with each of these stages and ideas for writing assignments and projects.

Jot It Down is a year-long Language Arts plan for students ages 5 to 8.  It includes ten monthly writing projects.  There are many great ideas detailed here, including ideas for recitation, word play, narration, poetry teatimes, weekly movies, art and music appreciation and more.

The Wand, The Arrow, The Boomerang, and more.  These are the Brave Writer Language Arts Programs.  Each one of these programs has 3 different levels and are in a magazine format with several issues per level.   The Wand is geared towards 5-8 year olds, The Arrow for ages 8-11 and so on.  All the way up to high school.

Here’s an example of what you will find in The Wand, which is the program I am using with my 6 and 8 year olds. Each issue is based on a popular childrens’ book.  So for Level 1 in Issue 1, the lessons are based around the book Hop On Pop by Dr. Seuss.  There are specific instructions for teaching reading (which I am using with my 6 year old daughter), doing copywork (both kids) and spelling (both kids).

Brave Writer projects from top left: Story my daughter dictated about a day at the park with friends; letter tiles for spelling (you can use post-its instead), copywork; a story my son dictated to me about Italy; Making lists: awesome verbs to be used for Mad Libs; my daughter’s Hop on Pop drawing from a Wand assignment.

So what about grammar?  The Brave Writer program’s primary focus is on inspiring a love of writing and helping kids to find their writing voice and develop it as they grow.  Grammar is recommended three times: once in elementary, once in junior high and once in high school. More grammar instruction is received via any foreign language study.

This is certainly not the way I was taught grammar in public school, so it’s a different way of thinking.  In fact, the Writer’s Jungle acknowledges this by saying, “Most of us were not taught to write for pleasure, self-experession and discovery.  Instead we were handed inane topics that neither inspired us nor related to topics we knew or cared about and then were told, write.”  Brave Writer asserts that it strives to be different.  This appeals to me, so we are giving it a go. And enjoying it immensely thus far.

How’s it going for my “reluctant writer”? Well, we are keeping the copywork short and sweet. Our focus is on getting his creative ideas down on paper. I’m “jotting it down” for him and he’s reading his work back to me. We’re putting together spelling words and making up nonsense words for fun. We’re stopping to notice colorful descriptions that we really like in our read-aloud books. We are doing all of this together, the power struggles are few and far between and we are both enjoying this relaxed approach. Relaxed, but actually getting more accomplished. It is feeling like a good fit so far.

So, in addition to the samples the program offers on their website, Brave Writer is offering one of their products for free to my readers: Brave Writer Goes To The Movies, for ages 8 to 18.  Where do movies fit into a language arts curriculum? Brave Writer asserts that we should treat high quality films as an essential part of our childrens’ education. The advantages listed include the ability to tell a full plot in approximately two hours and the ability to travel to other places in the world and in history. Watch movies with your kids and discuss them during and afterwards. Write down what your kids say about them or have them write their thoughts.

Brave Writer Goes to the Movies is an e-document that provides several pages of writing prompts and ideas to analyze the setting, characters, message,  plot development and more, of films.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a copy of The Writer’s Jungle, Jot It Down, and The Wand from Brave Writer for the purpose of review. I did not receive any other compensation. The opinions expressed in this review are purely my own. 

BrickFair Virginia Lego Fan Festival with Ticket Give-Away

Show of hands:  who has a Lego fan, or two or three, in their house? We love Legos in our house and use them frequently when learning about science, history, math and more.

So I was excited to learn about the BrickFair Lego Fan Festival of 2012, a Lego extravaganza featuring  creations of all sizes, a stay-and-play area for kids to build with thousands of Lego bricks, and more than 1,000 exhibitors, including model train displays.  All in all, over 100,000 square feet of awesome brick creations and activities.

BrickFair 2012 takes place on August 4th and 5th at the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, Virginia.  Admission is $10 per person (ages 3 and under are free; no strollers please).  For more information, visit the BrickFair website.

And guess what?  I have four free tickets to give away.  That’s a $40 value.  All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on THIS POST here on THIS BLOG using the word BrickFair in your comment.  Also, leave me a way to contact you if you win. Last day to enter is Wednesday, July 18th.

Photos courtesy of BrickFair.
Disclosure: I received 8 free tickets (4 for myself, and 4 to give away) from BrickFair in exchange for posting about BrickFair on my blog. 

This contest is now closed. 

“You Can Count on Monsters” Giveaway

Guess what?  My little Creekside Learning blog is turning one year old later this month!  To celebrate, I’m giving away two You Can Count on Monsters books, by Richard Evan Schwartz.

You Can Count on Monsters is part math, part art, combined, to present to children the concepts of prime numbers, factoring, and multiplication, using colorful and fun pictures of monsters.

Each monster demonstrates its’ prime number in a unique way.  This book is targeted towards children who have begun to do multiplication, although it’s appeal reaches those even younger. Just take a look at the Amazon reviews.   You can learn more about the concepts in the book on the official Monsters website.  And you can meet the monsters here. Aren’t they kind of cute?

Two random winners will be drawn on June 27th, 2011.  U.S. entries only. Include a way for me to contact you (via email, facebook, or twitter).

You can enter as many times as you like to increase your chances of winning. Here are the ways to enter:

  1. “Like” Creekside Learning on Facebook, then leave me a comment here that you “liked” the page.  If you’re already a fan, post a link to the fanpage or blog on your facebook page.
  2. Follow Creekside Learning on Twitter  and leave a comment here about it, or, if you already follow on Twitter, tweet a link to the give-a-way (use @Creekside_Learn in your tweet so it will ping me and I’ll add your entry to the drawing).
If I contact you to let you know you’ve won, please get back to me with your physical address within 48 hours.  If not,  I’ll have to move on to the next random winner.

Disclosure: This product was given to Creekside Learning to review and share. I have received no compensation. My opinions about the product are my own.