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love that dog

Book Clubs, Homeschooling, Uncategorized

Love That Dog Book Club

We had another successful book club this month! Our book selection was the delightful tale, Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. This book is unique in that the entire story is written through free verse poetry journal entries. It was a quick and enjoyable read for all of our attendees.

In order to create a party school book club atmosphere, the planners focused on a dog theme!

First up, a table cloth decorated to imitate the cover of the book.  It didn’t take a whole lot of fancy planning to grab a cheap table cloth and give my daughter a black sharpie marker, yet it did wonders for our decor.

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As the girls arrived, they began work on their dog collar bookmarks using a variety of colorful ribbons, one included dog paws.

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Our dog themed snacks included puppy chow, puppy pretzels, cheese cut into bone shaped slices using a bone shaped cookie cutter (which could also be used for bone shaped sugar cookies), carrots, and Poetry Pop.

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Poetry Pop was created by re-labelling a soda bottle with a printed poem about dogs.  The girls enjoyed sharing the poems found on their bottles.

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While snacking we discussed how to ask good questions about poems, using the literary element plans found in the back of our current Arrow edition of Love That Dog from Brave Writer.  The Brave Writer guide also included the titles of various poems for discussion and I distributed copies to the girls.  After reading and discussing several, I explained that their next activity was to create their own poem and “publish” it on card stock.

Before sending them off, I shared a poem I wrote when I was twelve years old.  It was one of the precious gems my mother saved from my middle school years.  When I teach a poetry class, I always share this poem.  It’s a simple one for kids to imitate and they enjoy knowing how much I still relate to the statements conveyed when I was twelve years old.

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Feeling inspired, everyone set off to work on their poems.

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Plain paper.  Lined paper.  Ultra fine-tip sharpie packs.

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Their final products were ready for display.  I was really proud of what these girls created in a short time.  One of the girls was very resistant to trying her hand at writing a poem, yet wrote something she was really proud of.

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In the end, we had a great time celebrating this creative piece of literature.  Our monthly book club has become one of my favorite events of our school year and this month was no exception!

View this book club set up on periscope if you would like to see a tour of the activities!

(NotBefore7 is a Brave Writer ambassador and is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com)

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!

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Brave Writer, Homeschooling, Literature

Top Ten Brave Writer Arrow Guides

I confess.

I am a paper girl trapped in a world of PDF’s.  Despite these handy electronic files,  I continue to print out most everything. And this includes my homeschool curriculum guides.

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Open my file cabinet in the basement and preview the stacks and stacks of Brave Writer Arrow guides from three full years of subscriptions.  Thirty printed guides are sitting in my files in addition to their PDF counterparts sitting on my computer.  I am not really sure why I feel the need to save the printed copy, but I do.

So as part of my procrastination file cabinet organization, I pulled out all of my Brave Writer Arrow Guides and sorted them until I found my favorite guides released in the school years that began in 2013, 2014, and 2016.  This list does NOT include any titles from the current school year (2016-2017).

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Book Clubs, Brave Writer, Homeschooling

Creating a Book Club for Kids

Our monthly book clubs are one of the best things that ever happened to our homeschool.

From the first attempt at the fun for the Hunger Games to our most recent book styled two ways for the Green Ember, our book clubs have become a huge hit with my kids.

Of course, this means that I receive a lot of questions about is starting a book club for kids.  And while a lot of information about my book clubs can be found on this blog and my YouTube channel, I thought I’d answer some of your most common questions.

How to create a book club for your kids! Continue Reading

Book Clubs, Brave Writer, Homeschooling, Literature

Literature List for our 5th and 6th Grade Book Club

The previous school year has ended, our exciting summer of travel is almost wrapped up, and it is time for this teacher to begin planning the next school year.

As I look back, one of my favorite successful endeavors this year was the creation of two book clubs for my daughters.  The older girls book club, the Boomerang Book Club, included titles for 7th and 8th graders.  The younger girls book club, the Arrow Book Club, includes titles for 5th and 6th graders.

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Our book club title – The Arrow Book Club – was derived from my use of the Arrow Book Guides at Brave Writer.   The Arrow Book Guides are designed for students in grades 3-6.  These Brave Writer guides provide grammar, copywork, and literary element discussions surrounding a book title.  Our family uses the guides at home during the month and our book club provides an opportunity to discuss and celebrate the reading.

Without further ado, here are the fantastic titles we used for our 5th and 6th book club.  (Arrow Guides for each of these titles can be purchased individually.)

SeptemberHow to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell.

Our first book was a ton of fun because the host mom did a great job. She creatively came up with some fun crafts and foods for these girls based on a book that was tailored more toward a group of boys.

While I am glad we read it, most of the girls didn’t enjoy the book. They found it gross.

OctoberFlora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo.

The unlikely friendship of a superhero squirrel and the self-proclaimed cynic, Flora, make for a fantastic journey. This delightful tale is full of memorable lines and delightful characters.  All of my children, ages 6, 8 and 11, enjoyed this story..

Our Arrow book club included nutty themed snacks and superhero crafts, including a superhero themed T-shirt created by each girl.

NovemberThe Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart.

While this book is quite a time commitment to read, it is well worth it. We used the audio version for the sake of my voice and enjoyed the narration quite a bit.

While dozens of kids answer an ad in the newspaper seeking gifted children, only are chosen to be part of the Mysterious Benedict Society.   Their admittance to the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened takes them on a fantastic series of adventures as they go undercover to save the world!

DecemberPoppy by Avi.

Hands down, this was my family’s favorite book this year. Not only was our party school book club an amazing experience, but we fell in love with the characters in this book. In fact, after reading this title, we returned to the prequel, Ragweed, and then finished the rest of the books in the series.

Our family christmas ornament was an owl this year, representing Mr. Ocax, a character in Poppy. Because when I say that we loved this book. I mean that we loved this book.

JanuaryLove that Dog by Sharon Creech.

This creative tale is written as a series of poetry journal entries. Jack, the main character and author of the journal is a student who is studying poetry and poets at school. He experiments with his own poetic voice and finds it as the journal entries progress.

This book was a perfect jumping point to play with poetry in our own homeschool this year.

FebruaryCourage Has no Color, The True Story of the Triple Nickels: America’s First Black Paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone.

This was an incredible non-fiction story of America’s First Black Paratroopers.  Told in a conversational story style, Tanya Lee Stone includes narratives, facts and quotes to communicate this important piece of American History.

We took the opportunity to dive deeply into this topic and looked at the segregation of America during this time period.  As part of our month, we enjoyed the “Remember the Titans” movie and the sounds of Motown!

MarchUnderstood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher.

This is a delightful coming of age story as Elizabeth grows into herself while becoming known as Betsy. This tale is filled with deeper themes of love, friendship, and parenting. As a homeschooling mom, I was delighted with commentary found on education within the pages of this tale.

AprilCracker!: The Best Dog in Vietnam by Cynthia Kadohata.

While we all enjoyed this difficult story, my boys especially were drawn to it. This wasn’t an easy read as the realities of war are descriptive, but it was an important story and one we all enjoyed. I learned quite a bit about the way dogs were trained during the war. It was an informational book based on true events during the Vietnam War. Pictures and more historical details are included in the book.

Note: There is some language in this book, used by the soldiers, and while appropriate to the setting, it is important to note for parents.

MayLove, Ruby Lavendar by Deborah Wiles.

We loved this book as well. Ruby Lavendar and her grandmother, Miss Eula are as close as can be, so when Miss Eula announces a trip to Hawaii to visit another grandbaby, Ruby is just certain she will not survive. Not only does she survive, she makes a new friend, confronts some deep realities about her grandfather’s death, and keeps in touch with Miss Eula through letter writing. We all laughed at the memorable events in this book and talked through some of the deeper messages.

That sums it up! We had a fantastic year of challenging and fun literature.

As for next year, we will continue to use the Arrow Book Guides at home and focus our monthly book club meetings on the selected titles. The titles for the coming school year can be found on the Brave Writer site.

(NotBefore7 is an affiliate with Brave Writer and uses the curriculum in our own homeschool. I am happy to share how we implement this curriculum on my blog. I do earn a small commission if you purchase through one of my links. NotBefore7 is also a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com)

Book Clubs, Brave Writer, Homeschooling, Literature

Full Circle Moment: Brave Writer Arrow Title Connection

If you use the Brave Writer Arrow literature guides in your homeschool, then you are going to love this one…

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Right now, we are reading Cracker!: The Best Dog in Vietnam by Cynthia Kadohata.

The story follows Cracker, a German Shepherd, sent to train for battle in the Vietnam War.  Cracker is assigned to dog handler, Rick Hanski, and together they are going to “whip the world” according to Rick.

The story is well told and alternates between the dog’s and the soldier’s point of view.

Now…back up a few months with me…

In January, we read the book Love that Dog by Sharon Creech.   This delightful book is told through the journal entries of an elementary school student, Jack, who is learning poetry in school.

Jack is inspired in particular by the poet, Walter Dean Meyers, and writes him a letter.  He even gets Mr. Walter Dean Meyers to come to speak at his school!  And of course, we all become familiar with one of Mr. Walter Dean Meyers poems because of this book.

We were even inspired to write our own poems at our Party School Book Club celebration!

Now…come back to the present day with me…

Tonight, I sent my husband to the library to pick up some titles I had requested.  I used the online catalog to search for children’s books about the Vietnam War.  I wanted to learn more about it with the kids because of our read aloud title, Cracker!: Best Dog in Vietnam.

I couldn’t believe it when he came home with this one:

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Patrol: An American Soldier in Vietnam.  I opened it and began to flip through the pages.  The book is a long poem told through the eyes of an American soldier in Vietnam.

I glanced at the cover to see who the author was.

(Take a moment. Peek at the picture. Top left in red letters)

BAM!

Walter Dean Meyers.

I love when an unplanned moment like this one happens in our school day.  I can’t wait to read this with the kids tomorrow.

UPDATED NOTE:  I did read this with my kids today at our Poetry Tea Time.  The book is one long, free verse poem.  It is thought provoking and well written.  I did want to mention that both Cracker!: Best Dog in Vietnam and Patrol: An American Soldier in Vietnam are not necessarily books for your youngest or most sensitive readers.  They both deal with the realities of the Vietnam war and parental discretion is advised!

(NotBefore7 is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com)