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Brave Writer, Family Connections, Homelife, Homeschooling, Parenting

Conversation Starters for Families to use All Year Long

Our family began a simple tradition many years ago that has had an incredibly positive impact on our dinner conversation.

We stopped asking our kids how their day was or what they did that day. Instead, we asked two simple questions:

  • What was the highlight of your day? (or what was your favorite part of the day?)
  • What was the hardest part of your day?

Our oldest child was only around 8 years old when we began to ask these questions on a regular basis and these two questions became the foundation for our current family conversation starters.

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Brave Writer, Gifts, Homelife, Homeschooling

Gifts Inspired by the Brave Writer Lifestyle

Gift giving is such fun. I love surprising people and finding the perfect gift. Shopping for my kids brings me joy. Truly.

On the same hand, I don’t want a big pile of “stuff” left around after a holiday celebration or birthday. This forces me to think before I buy.

I want gifts that are fun and practical. It is a possible combination! I don’t want to find myself overwhelmed with stuff for the sake of stuff.

This is where my creativity comes in. I need to find things that will be inspiring, useful, and a joy to give.

So in the spirit of practical AND fun gifts, I present the following ideas inspired by our love for the Brave Writer lifestyle.

A list of gift ideas that are fun and practicall so that you will continue to use them all year. Check out these gift ideas inspired by the Brave Writer Lifestyle.

{This post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.}

Making my lists and checking them twice…

Poetry Teatime

Special Teapots

I absolutely adore these Tea-For-One ceramic tea sets from the English Tea Store. I bought each child their own solid color set and treated myself to this beautiful set.

Everyone loves drinking from their own special teapot, whether it is filled with hot tea, hot chocolate, or lemonade.

You can find several on Amazon as well. Here are a few that caught my eye:


New Poetry Books

I could list a million poetry books. The sky is the limit here.

But when it comes to gift giving, I like to find unique books that we will return to again and again. In that spirit, I’ll list a few favorite poetry book gift options:


You can also check out this list of Modern Picture books and scroll to the poetry section.

Just for Fun

How about magnet poetry for the fridge? Maybe the Haiku version? Or the Edgar Allen Poet kit?


Did you know that you can find movie discussion guides on the Brave Writer blog every Wednesday?

Movies create the opportunity for big, juicy conversations in the same way that a good book does. Take advantage of a few family movie nights during the busy holiday season or the gift of a good movie.

Check out the Brave Writer Movie blog posts and pick a few for this holiday season.

Gift a family movie night with a new movie and big gift basket of movie watching yummies.


Writing gift fun because we are BRAVE writers.


I am obsessed with markers and pens, so I am happy to buy a ton items in this category. And I do. All. Year. Long.

Here are some of my favorites to pull out for copywork fun.



Just for Copywork Fun



We love our special Golden Lines journals (for favorite book quotes) and our Friday Freewrite journals. My boys have asked to start their own Golden Lines Journal, so you know they’ll be getting one.

  • A Novel Journal is one of my favorite options. If your child has a favorite title that is featured then this is a perfect Golden Lines journal.
  • A Gold colored journal for their Golden Lines.
  • Grab a simple spiral notebook with a special cover. Maybe a sport or a character?
  • Some of these Harry Potter Journals would delight the kids in this house.
  • Get Out!!! There is a great selection of Stranger Things notebooks.


Game Play: Language Games

Toss the vocabulary and spelling workbooks and grab a game instead. Here are a few of our favorites for wordplay, storytelling, vocabulary, and spelling:

  • In Dixit, players use a descriptive word to describe their artwork hoping that it also describes the artwork someone else is holding. We own Dixit Journey, but it was very pricey when I posted this. I would check out the version pictured below.
  • Codenames forces the players to think about words, their various meanings, and connections. There are many versions to choose from. We have the original, but the neighbor has the picture version. The Duet Version is on my list.
  • Quiddler. Think spelling practice but FUN!
  • Rory’s Story Cubes are a classic storytelling game. They are also easy to take with you in your purse.


  • Taboo and Scattergories are classics from my own childhood. Both involve creative wordplay and work well with your older kids.
  • Apples to Apples is a great follow up to a lesson on adjectives and nouns!
  • Snake Oil is a fun game of persuasive language and laugh out loud word combinations.





What is hygge?

According to Wikipedia, it is a “Danish and Norwegian word which can be described as a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).”

Part of the Brave Writer Lifestyle is all about bringing coziness to our homeschool environment. Instead of doing school at home, we create a cozy home environment where learning can happen.

Art and Nature

Experience Art and enjoying nature are just part of the activities on the agenda as a Brave Writer family.

In my home, we are much more likely to dabble in the arts instead of nature, but I try to incorporate both. There are so many simple gift ideas that will remain useful for years to come.



Bring the Bard to your gift giving events. There are so many books about William Shakespeare, so I am going to list my favorite “gift-worthy” titles.

Shakespeare Books

  • Wills Words – My favorite kids hardcover picture book to introduce kids to the language invented by Shakespeare.
  • My love for OMG Shakespeare runs deep. This is a hysterical set for your teen. (language warning with emoji and texting acronyms)
  • Loves Shakespeare and Star Wars? Combine your loves with these hysterical Star Wars rewrites.
  • Pop Sonnets are modern day pop songs rewritten in the language of Shakespeare. I like to read the Shakespeare version and see if the kids can guess the modern song.


Shakespeare Fun


Continuing Education

Julie Bogart of Brave Writer supports continuing education for the homeschool mom. We learn alongside our kids every day, but we should feel free to pursue our own passions as well.

In addition, we can improve our ability to homeschool by surrounding ourselves with other moms who are pursuing the same ideals and reading books about learning and education.


If you are looking for a one-stop shop for a Homeschooling Parent to learn and grow in a community of like-minded Brave Schooling parents, then a membership to the Homeschool Alliance is the perfect gift.

The Alliance is Julie Bogart’s personal coaching community where a homeschool parent can find support for their homeschool journey.

Gifts for the Brave Writer Lifestyle includes support for mom from the Homeschool Alliance.

My favorite aspect of this community is the Master Class in Learning. I consider it my continuing education because each month I read and discuss thoughts on learning and education with like-minded adults. The monthly webinars are important to my growth as a homeschooling mom.


Of course, part of the Brave Writer Lifestyle is taking care of YOU – the parent.

Make sure that as you make your lists for the kids, you think about something that will nourish your own soul this holiday season.

What useful gifts are on your shopping lists?



For More Great Homeschool Ideas:

For lots of great ideas about motherhood, homeschooling, and travel, follow Not Before 7 on Pinterest.

Book Clubs, Brave Writer, Homeschooling, Literature

More Than a Shelf of Books

I am not one of those moms who can’t get rid of books. I am a purger. And I have no problem purging books.

The way I see it, that is what libraries are for. Libraries house my books.

But even I have my soft spots and my memories, so I must admit that there is a section of our hallway bookcase that is more than just a shelf of books.

It is a collection of memories that will always be exempt from purging.

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Brave Writer, Geography, Homeschooling

Geography using Brave Writer

We are going to Learn Around the World this school year, and I am feeling inspired and a little overwhelmed with great ideas.

Most of that is due to our Learn Around the World Facebook group. The Facebook group is filled with inspiring homeschool moms who are sharing great tips and brainstorming resources.

This post was inspired when one mom began a thread with a question: Anyone pairing up Brave Writer books with the different countries?

Great question.  I decided to do a little research on the titles and sort the Brave Writer Boomerang and Arrow titles by continent and country.  They are available below and in the files section of my Facebook group as a downloadable PDF.

Explore Geography using Brave Writer. You'll find Brave Writer Arrow and Boomerang Titles organized by Geographic Location.

The following titles are used by Brave Writer for the Arrow and Boomerang Literature Guides. You can simply read them aloud to your family, or if you want to dig deeper into these titles, a literature guide for each of these books can be purchased in the Brave Writer store.

The books on this list range from a 3rd-grade level through high school. Please note that you should use your own discretion when it comes to the appropriateness of a book’s content for your family.

In addition, I recommend doing your own research to be certain that a title lines up with your educational goals for that particular country or continent.

I have listed titles that take place in a specific location or help the reader better understand the experience of someone who is from that country, even if the book takes place in a different country.

Geography Using Brave Writer

{This post contains Amazon affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure.}

North America

(USA not included as the majority of titles take place in the USA)

Anne of Green Gables – Anne’s adventures take place in Canada
Esperanza Rising – Mexico and California
What the Moon Saw – Mexico and USA
Mountains Beyond Mountains – Haiti



A Single Shard – Korea
Master Puppeteer – Japan
Sadako and 1000 Paper Cranes – Japan
The Big Wave – Japan
The Ghost at Takaido Inn – Japan
The Thing About Luck – Japan
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon – Chinese Folklore
Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze – China
Cracker! Best Dog in Vietnam – Vietnam (NOTE: content is about the Vietnam War)
Inside Out and Back Again – Vietnamese refugee flees to the US (Entire book written in freeverse poetry)
Same Sun Here – India (Immigrant from India in US)
I am Malala – Pakistan
Persepolis – Iran (Graphic Novel)
Sold – Nepal (NOTE: content is descriptive about Human Trafficking)
The Bronze Bow – Isreal


The Midwife’s Apprentice – Medieval England
Crispin: The Cross of Lead – England (14th century)
Shakespeare’s Scribe – England (Black Plague; Globe Theater)
The Inquisitor’s Tale – France
Echo – Germany (Three tales intertwine. One begins in Nazi Germany)
The Book Thief – Germany (Nazi Germany)
Diary of a Young Girl – Germany (Nazi Germany)
Number the Stars – Denmark (WWII)
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich – Russia (WWII)
Endless Steppe – Russia/Siberia (family taken from Poland)


Journey to Jo’burg – South Africa
Cry, The Beloved Country – South Africa
A Long Walk to Water – Sudan
The Red Pencil – Sudan


Kon Tiki – Polynesia


Mr. Poppers Penguins – takes place in the US, but a penguin is involved.

South America

Secret of the Andes – Peru

If you want to print this out as a PDF document, then you can find it in the files section of the Learn Around the World Facebook group. I’d love to have you join us.

Traveling the world through literature is just one of the many ways to study geography without leaving your home.  Happy Travels.

Combine the Happy PLanner with the Homeschool Planner by Pam Barnhill.Using the Brave Writer Arrow Guides in like having a trail guide through the woods of Language Arts.

Book Clubs, Brave Writer, Homeschooling, Literature

Green Ember Book Club

{This post contains affiliate links.  Read my full disclosure.}

“My place beside you, my blood for yours.  Till the Green Ember rises or the end of the world.”

The Green Ember trilogy by S. D. Smith was selected as an Arrow Book title through Brave Writer this year.  Our family began the series with the first book, The Green Ember, and we listened together on audible.

I’ll admit that it was a slow start for me but once the action and adventure kicked in, we were engaged until the exciting, cliff-hanger ending. Of course, this means that we are currently halfway through listening to the second book in the series, Ember Falls.

Three of my children participated in a book club for The Green Ember as part of our ongoing monthly Brave Writer book clubs.  This book inspired some fun book club ideas. Both the girls and the boys had a blast and I have no doubt they will remember these characters for years to come.

Food, fun, and ideas for a Green Ember Book Club.

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