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Blogging, Brave Writer, Homeschooling

Giveaway: The Writers Jungle – ENDS SEPTEMBER 2, 2016

{The following giveaway post contains affiliate links.  Thanks for your support of Not Before 7.}

Once upon a time there was a homeschool mom who had not one but two copies of The Writers Jungle by Julie Bogart of Brave Writer.

Two binders.  Two fully printed copies of this incredible resource to equip homeschooling parents to teach their kids to write.

So what is that lucky homeschool mom to do?

PASS IT ON!  That’s what!

This week, I am going to pass on my former copy of The Writers Jungle (original value: $97) to one lucky reader.  My copy is the most recent edition, complete in the Brave Writer binder.  It is a USED copy, but I have cleaned it up for you.  The stray pencil marks have been erased and the binder is all nice and shiny for ya!

So you get the most recent version and I will be keeping the previous edition that was given to me.

It’s a win-win situation.

The Writers JungleThis guide is the centerpiece of the Brave Writer curriculum.  It is designed to teach the PARENT how to teach their child.  You will learn how to partner with your child as they find their writing voice, revise their thoughts, freewrite, and even construct the dreaded elementary school report!

In Julie’s own words, today on Facebook:

The missing ingredient in writing curricula isn’t how to structure a paragraph (information that can be readily found on the Internet). You don’t need more facts about topic sentences or how to use libraries. Grammar and spelling are not the key components in writing, either, much to the chagrin of some English teachers.

Writing is first and foremost about writers—people with ideas, thoughts, and insights they want to share. Readers are cultivated by risky writing—writing that hooks, fascinates, speaks, surprises, enlivens, and tells the truth. How do you help your kids reach inside and find those kinds of words? That’s what Brave Writer is all about and that’s what The Writer’s Jungle is designed to help you do.

But wait just a second.  That’s not all.  In addition to The Writers Jungle I’d like to include a few simple things to get your family started on their free writing journey.

Brave Writer Giveaway. The Writers Jungle.

Your prize pack will also include 5 spiral notebooks (1 for mom and up to four kids), a selection of stickers to decorate your notebooks, and this 10 pack of Ticonderoga pencils.

We have been free writing in our spiral notebooks for three years now.  And they are treasures.  Brilliant treasures.  I hope these few simple items, in addtion to The Writers Jungle will help you to get started on your journey!

Winning is easy.  Just enter here and I will select a winner at random after the contest closes on Friday, September 2 at noon.

The Writers Jungle and Freewriting Bonuses Giveaway

While I am an ambassador for Brave Writer, this contest is not in anyway offficially associated with  or sponsored by Brave Writer. I simply had two copies of The Writers Jungle and wanted to offer one up to my readers.  Good luck and thanks for entering!  And of course, spread the word so your friends can enter!

Brave Writer, Homeschooling, Poetry

Themed Poetry Tea Time: Tea with Marilyn Singer

Each week, our family routinely sets aside time to enjoy a Poetry Tea Time together.  The table is set, the drinks and snacks are served, and poetry is shared aloud.

Tea Time with Marilyn SingerOn a typical week we bring favorite books from our own collection or from a recent library trip to the table.

But this week was a bit different.  Inspired by this interview with Marilyn Singer at Poetry Tea Time, we had a themed teatime with Marilyn as our featured author.

To prepare for our special tea, I requested all of the books available by Marilyn Singer at our local libraries.  Thankfully, this creative poet has written a large number of poetry books with diverse themes.

I began our tea time by reading an interview with Marilyn to the kids.  A podcast was also available, which I listened to on my own, but the kids weren’t up for forty minute podcast.  After learning a little bit about our featured poet, we were ready to dig into her books and our snacks!

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IMG_4643Right away, my youngest child gravitated toward the book, A Stick is an Excellent Thing: Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play.  This book was filled with fun poems for all readers, but it was particularly perfect for my youngest reader.  He was able to comfortably read a few poems out loud for us.

Marilyn’s well-known reverso, or mirror poetry, can be found in several books.  Her fairy tale reverso poems were found in both Follow Follow and Mirror Mirror.   Our family was fortunate enough to also find her most recent release, Echo Echo, at our library.  Echo Echo is a book of reverso poems based on stories from Greek Mythology.  This wasn’t our first time reading these reverso poems, yet it was fun to revisit them again with more background knowledge of the poet!

Inspired by what we just read, we ended our tea time by attemping some reverso poetry of our own.


Daniel, age 6
May’s coming                        I’m waiting
I’m waiting                         May’s coming


David, age 9
Have fun                            Ripstiking
Ripstiking                         Have fun


Patricia, age 11
No!  I will                                I’m safe.
Never!                                      It’s over.
Will I go back?                     Will I go back?
It’s over.                                   Never?
I’m safe.                                    No, I will.

My attempt:
Jekyll and Hyde Come to Tea

Poetry.                                      We stop!
While reading                        Never will
we sip tea.                                we sip tea
Never will                                while reading
we stop.                                     poetry.

We had a great time, but boy was it challenge to write these poems!  The process gave us a whole new appreciation for Marilyn and her creativity.

I did take the time to email Marilyn about our experience with her books and I shared our poems with her.  Her email can be found on her website and she responded within 24 hours!

Some of our favorite titles by Marilyn include the following titles.

Nature/Outdoor Focus

A Stick is an Excellent Thing: Poems Celebrating Outdoor Play (illustrated by LeUyen Pham)- games and outdoor fun easy for kids to relate to

IMG_4641-001How to Cross a Pond: Poems About Water (illustrated by Meilo So)- beautiful monochromatic watercolor illustrations

Turtles in July (illustrated by Jerry Pinkney)- Marilyn’s first published poetry book with poems about animals and beautiful illustrations by Jerry Pinkney

Fireflies at Midnight (illustrated by Ken Robbins) – my personal favorite

Poems for Fun and Learning

Creature Carnival (illustrated by Gris Grimly) – silly, fun poems about mythological creatures such as Nessie, Cerberus, and the Kraken.  My nine year old son took this one to bed with him and loved it!

Rutherford B Who was He?: Poems about our Presidents (illustrated by John Hendrix) – rhyming poems about each of the presidents in order of their service

Reverso Poems

Mirror Mirror and Follow Follow (both illustrated by Josee Masse) are based on fairy tales

Echo Echo (illustrated by Josee Masse) is based on Greek Mythology

Author themed tea times are a great way to get to know various poets.  I am sure this won’t be our last one.

Have you read any of Marilyn’s poetry books?  Do you have a favorite?

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Brave Writer, Homeschooling

Laughter, Learning, and Lots of Notes

Good friends. Good food. Lots of tea, coffee, and chocolate.

And plenty of felt tip colored markers for the 15 pages of notes in my bullet journal!

All of the perfect ingredients for a weekend with Julie Bogart, learning about the Brave Writer Lifestyle via the Brave Writer Retreat DVD’s.

{This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for supporting Not Before 7}



A weekend with Julie Bogart.  Being inspired in your pursuit of the Brave Writer lifestyle.  Getting help for high school.  Learning the key ingredients to create your fantasy homeschool.  Discussing the elements of a language rich environment.  And doing all of this without having to leave your own house or local area.

That’s exactly what six friends and I did this weekend!

After receiving digital access to the Brave Writer Retreat DVD’s a few months ago, I immediately watched all five session.  At that time,  I wrote a detailed review of the DVD’s.  The sessions were full of such great information that I knew it wouldn’t be the last time I watched them.  In fact, an idea began brewing in my mind….

I decided to plan a Brave Writer weekend to share the sessions with friends.

Using Facebook, I created an event: Brave Writer Retreat DVD weekend and I invited a few local friends and one out of town childhood friend.  The basic plan for the weekend was as follows:

Friday night
7 PM: Introductions
7:30 – 8:30 PM: Help for High School
8:30 – 9:15 PM Discuss
*Then head home for evening and return the next day

arrive 8:30 AM
8:45 – 10:15 AM: Nurturing Brave Writers
10:15-10:45: Discuss
10:45-12:00: Ally, Coach, Partner
12:00- 12:45: POTLUCK LUNCH and discussion
12:45-1:45: Creating a Language Rich Environment
1:45-2:15 Discuss
2:15-3:45 Your Fantasy Homeschool
Then discuss and head home by 4:30.

(I am happy to say that our final ending time was 5 PM, which was pretty darn close to the original plan.  Impressive for a group of 7 women!)

We kicked off our weekend on Friday night with Help for High School which is actually the fourth video in the series. It made more sense to start with it on Friday night so that anyone who wasn’t quite ready for the high school discussion could opt out.  This allowed moms of little ones to stay home that night and only set aside Saturday.  Of course, everyone was welcome to attend all of the sessions.

IMG_4749A hot tea, iced tea, and coffee bar were set up in the basement, scattered with some yummy chocolates.  We planned a pot luck lunch including soup, salad, bread, fruit and veggies.  Thankfully the weather cooperated and we were able to enjoy lunch on the deck.

After a packed morning of information, lunch outside was a welcome break to digest information and talk through ideas.  Then we were ready for our last two sessions.

IMG_4776I have to warn you that you will receive a lot of information in one weekend.  A LOT.

Be prepared with a ton of colorful felt markers, gel pens, or whatever your note taking medium of choice happens to be.   I filled 15 pages, front and back, in my moleskin bullet journal.

We found that pausing the video was necessary because all of the discussion notes were shown on a power point presentation.  The screens were shown briefly in the video, but IMG_4757not long enough to write down the information.  Pausing was effective, but here is a pro-tip for you:  snap a quick picture of the screen with your phone or tablet!

Having the “slide” on your phone allows you to look at it as Julie was talks, so you can copy down each of the bullet points as she explains them rather than having to copy them all at once and then squeeze in your notes.

It’s safe to say that we all filled pages upon pages with notes whether the Brave Writer Lifestyle was new to us or something we were quite familiar with.

When Saturday came to a close and the last session was over, our final discussion was brief.  Most of us felt ready to go home and process the information, including myself.


Truly, it had been a fantastic twenty-four hours that we set aside for ourselves.  We laughed and learned.  We we were energized and challenged.   The time spent this weekend was good for ourselves, our homeschools and even our parenting.

And it made me even more excited about the Brave Writer retreat in July!

(I have been following the Brave Writer Lifestyle for 3 years in our home.  I am proud to be a Brave Writer Ambassador and to share ideas with you regarding our families’ use of Brave Writer products and the implementation of philosophies.  Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and they help to support this blog)


Brave Writer, grammar, Homeschooling, Literature

Grammar Lesson using The Arrow: Love that Dog

Grammar.  The word can evoke very strong opinions.

Who knew grammar was such a hot topic?  Probably very few parents.  Unless they decided to homeschool.

And once you weed through all of the philosophies, it can be quite confusing to find the actual best fit for your family.  I know because we have tried so many options!

One teaching option that feels very natural for our homeschool is teaching grammar through literature passages.  The Brave Writer literature guides, The Arrow, have been the backbone of this process in our house.
Our family has found that teaching grammar with literature as the tool has been a great fit for our homeschool. Here is just one example of how we did it!

Continue Reading

Brave Writer, Homeschooling, Literature

New School Routine: Morning Basket

A few weeks ago, Julie Bogart shared, “Five tips for a sane morning” on periscope and described her family’s morning routine during the homeschooling years. Julie’s family often spent up to an hour reading to kick off the day.  It sounded blissful, as well as educational.

I could immediately feel the wheels turning in my mind!

I used the extra brain space available during our holiday break to brainstorm what I might keep in my morning basket. As soon as the holiday break ended, I was ready to kick off our new Morning Basket.

Our Morning Basket Continue Reading

Brave Writer, Homeschooling

Spend a weekend with Julie Bogart at Brave Writer

Recently, I was fortunate enough to spend an entire weekend at a seminar with Julie Bogart from Brave Writer.  It was educational, informative, super helpful and fun.

53704_310x459Best of all, I didn’t have to leave my couch.

That’s right.  I enjoyed six hours of Brave Writer retreat lectures without leaving my own home.  How did I do it?  I viewed the Nurturing Brave Writer Families Retreat DVD’s.

What did I think of them?  I LOVED them!

I have been using Brave Writer products and following Julie’s blog and Facebook pages for over two years now.  My blog contains a lot of our experiences with BraveWriter products and philosophies.

Now, the idea of a seminar with Julie wasn’t a new one to me.  I was fortunate enough to attend a BraveWriter seminar in Richmond, VA just over two years ago when I kicked off my foray into the world of BraveWriting with my kids.  Yet, even with all of my BraveWriter experience and previous knowledge, I was able to learn new ideas and reinforce previous ones by watching these DVD’s.  I have a feeling I could watch them every summer and new thoughts would grab me.  That is the best part about owning them.

I am thinking #partyschool for moms this summer…a mini-retreat might be in the works.

brave writer retreat reviewSo, what do you get on the DVD set?

Five BraveWriter Sessions

Session 1: Nurturing Brave Writers
Session 2: Ally, Coach, and Partner
Session 3: The Brave Writer Lifestyle
Session 4: Fantasy Homeschool
Session 5: Help with High School

Every session helps the viewer understand and implement the Brave Writer lifestyle in their own homeschool, most specifically with teaching writing, but also as general homeschool philosophies.

The DVD’s can be purchased for $99 or individual sessions can be purchased for $29.99.

Session 1: Nurturing Brave Writers

Learn the overall principles of Brave Writer.  Understand the methods used to teach writing and where they come from.  Find ways to discover flashes of the “good stuff” in your child’s writing.  Walk away with concrete activities to implement in your home, such as the color walk.

Favorite Quote:  “Educators treat writing like a frog, something to dissect in a classroom.  Professionals treat writing the way a child sees a frog, as something jumpy and mysterious to play with.”

Session 2:  Ally, Coach, and Partner

This is a jam packed session!  Learn the stages of writing and growth and how to partner with your child appropriately during each stage.  Discover positive interactions over writing instead of negative talk and unrealistic expectations.  Learn strategies for every stage of writing.   Learn how to engage with your kids over any topic using the four “ex-” words: explore, expand, extrapolate, and expound.  Discover the 10 ways to partner with your child.  Recognize the passions of your older children and how they relate to education.

Favorite Quote:  “If you get close enough to it, even Pokemon cards can hold your fascinating in some limited say, I promise.  If nothing else, the delight in making your child happy will make you happy.”

Session 3:  The Brave Writer Lifestyle

Learn about copy work and dictation and their place in the homeschool.  Discover how to deal with bored children.  Discover how to incorporate art and nature into your homeschool lifestyle.  Learn the “one-thing principle”, the “joy principle”, what a routine vs. schedule looks like, and all about party school.  Hear how to develop a language rich environment in your homeschool.

Favorite Quote:  “Whenever I want to redecorate my house, I page through the Pottery Barn magazine till the feeling passes.”  (yes, the DVD’s are light-hearted and entertaining!)

Favorite Homeschooling Quote: “When you ask kids about their memories of homeschool, never once have they mentioned a Saxon math book.”

Session 4:  Fantasy Homeschool

Explore ways to bring your homeschool fantasies into your homeschool realities.  Understand the seasons of schooling and how to work with them when planning.  Learn how to bring your own unique personality and skills into your homeschool.  Understand that success = satisfaction + goal achievement and what the conditions look like to experience success.  Focus on your children and their “obsessions” as part of learning in your homeschool.

Favorite Quote:  “Things start going good and you create problems to solve…You don’t think you’re doing a good job unless it’s hard.”

Session 5:  Help for High School

Hear practical, helpful, and encouraging advice on parenting and education teenagers.  Learn about academic proofs in college and what is acceptable and required.  Learn about research and what it should look like.  Explore the forms for high school writing.  Learn the Brave Writer secret: Think Three.

Favorite Quote:  “If you sound like a left-wing or right-wing radio show, you are not writing an essay.  No essay ranting, only essay writing.”

Without a doubt, I am a HUGE fan of Brave Writer products and I learned a lot from watching these DVD’s.  I have no hesitation when recommending these DVD’s.  I have no doubt that you will learn from them and enjoy them as much as I have.

Disclosure: As a Brave Writer Ambassador, I was offered a downloaded version of these sessions for review.  I will receive a small percentage of your purchase of the DVD if you use my affiliate links throughout this post.  The opinions I have expressed about the valuable content are my own.