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Book Clubs, Brave Writer, Literature

Party school Book Club: Poppy by Avi

IMG_0920Our Arrow Book Club title this month was Poppy by Avi.  While our family uses the Brave Writer Arrow Guide during the month, many of the families participate by simply reading the book and joining in with our #partyschool fun!

I can not say enough wondering things about this delightful tale.  The descriptions are brilliant and the characters are endearing and memorable.  My entire family enjoyed this book, although my two boys and their daddy are the ones who finished every book in the series together.

Upon arrival, a sign on the front door welcomed us to Dimwood Forest.  The hostess had truly thought of everything!  The A/C had been turned up to give the forest a chilly feel and Mr. Ocax, the owl, was watching over our forest feast from a nearby perch.  We could hear other forest bird chirping in the trees thanks to the nature sounds playing in the background.

IMG_0923The forest atmosphere was captured perfectly.

Then we caught a glimpse of our Poppy inspired feast.  The delightful picnic in the forest setting was inspired by the storyline and characters in the book.

The picnic style table cloth was decorated with a variety of natural objects found in the yard.  A few scattered leaves and twigs from the yard brought the outdoor forest into the house.  The girls were eager to enjoy their treats while discussing this sweet tale.


Everyone’s favorite character, or at least a top contender, is the hilarious Ereth.  And he was waiting for them on their plates, created out of a pear, grapes and blueberries.


Of course we had Poppy inspired muffins (Poppyseed) and Poppy Punch:

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Ragweed had a special section dedicated to him and his love of Hazelnuts.  While the hershey kiss mice snacked on cheese and crackers:

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The table was lovely.


The event was a memorable #partyschool book club for sure.


During our discussion, Vickie led the girls through, “A Hero’s Journey” as it related to Poppy’s journey in the book.  Information about “A Hero’s Journey” can be found on YouTube and the internet, including this informative video using Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter and Dorothy.


After an insightful discussion, the girls moved on to an earring craft based on the earring worn by Ragweed and Poppy. The supplies were ready for each girl to select a stone and make a clip on earring to be worn on the top of their ear.  Afterwards, there were additional supplies for special necklaces and bracelets.

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Once again, the kids had a great time celebrating and connecting to literature.


(Notbefore7 is a Brave Writer Ambassador.  The Brave Writer language arts program is a core part of our homeschooling journey and I am happy to share the products we use as well as how we implement them.  Links to Brave Writer in this post are affiliate links.)

Book Clubs, Brave Writer, Homeschooling, Literature

Book Club: Anne of Green Gables

anne_of_green_gables-702891While our January Boomerang Book Club meeting couldn’t re-locate to Prince Edward Island, I did attempt to capture the feeling of a tea party with Anne at Green Gables as much as possible.

The table was set for a full tea party to enjoy over our book discussion.   At the center of our table were pink roses, after all, Anne herself declares, “After all, the only read roses are pink ones.  They are the flowers of love and faith.”

The treats at our table included raspberry cordial, pudding (though it wasn’t plum), cookies, cucumber sandwiches, and biscuits with strawberry preserves.

My plan was to make homemade vanilla ice cream after our discussion and craft, but we had had enough sugar.

IMG_0798Part of the sugary fun included this layered pudding in a cup, complete with a sculpey clay mouse who didn’t fall in!  But we enjoyed the memory of Anne’s plum pudding mishap.

All in all, our discussion of the book went well.  It was a typical book discussion with middle school girls.  Lots of giggles.  Lots of quiet.  Lots of distraction.  But in the middle of the giggles, insightful discussion existed.

We had a very thoughtful discussion about whether or not Anne of Green Gables was a piece of feminist literature.  I was impressed with the girls’ conclusions which were supported with good reasoning.

The “Think Piece Questions” included with every Boomerang Guide provided a great platform for some good discussions.  We also discussed the “hook and return” the author used in this book, as explained Week Four of the Brave Writer Boomerang Guide.  I appreciated the insight into the connection between the opening chapter and the concluding one.

IMG_2023After our discussion, the girls created an Anne of Green Gables bookmark.  We dubbed it the “Creepy Craft” because it appeared that Anne was squished in my book.

We laughed and laughed and laughed over this one.  But in the end, each of the girls made their memorable book mark, complete with their favorite quotes.


In the end, a great time was had by all.  I feel so fortunate to have such fun with this group of gals!


More of our Boomerang and Arrow Book Club posts can be found here and on the menu bar.

(NotBefore7 is an affiliate with Brave Writer.  My adoration of the curriculum is my own!)

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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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

Book Clubs, Brave Writer, Homeschooling, Literature, Periscope

Boomerang Book Club: The Outsiders

Our Boomerang Book Club has been such a success this year!

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

November’s meeting was no exception. The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton was our title for the month and these 7th and 88th-gradegirls all enjoyed the book.

The uniqueness of this book is enhanced if you read a bit of background about the author, a high school aged girl.  She wrote the majority of the book the year that she received a D in Creative Writing, an interesting story in itself.

But I digress…

Our bookclub meeting for The Outsiders was full of memorable fun! Continue Reading

Book Clubs, Brave Writer, Homeschooling, Literature, Periscope

Mysterious Benedict Society Book Club

This school year, I wanted a way to help my children develop connections to the literature we are reading at home and connections with other girls their ages.  Hence, two monthly book clubs were “born” this year.  The one I host tomorrow is for my younger daughter, 5th grade.

To get this group organized, I contacted a few moms with girls in the right age range this summer and tossed out the idea of a book club.  I suggested the Arrow Book Club titles because our family uses the Arrow Book Club guides for our Language Arts.  While the other families aren’t required to use the guides, I offered up the book titles selected by Julie at BraveWriter this year because she chooses a nice mix of classic and modern literature.

Each month a different mom hosts and is responsible for a snack and activity inspired by the book title as well as a brief literature discussion.  This month is my turn.  Tomorrow morning I will host our group for a discussion of “They Mysterious Benedict Society” by Trenton Lee Stewart.

After our meeting, I will blog some pictures and details, but if you want a preview of my plans, I periscoped them tonight:

Book Clubs, Brave Writer, Homeschooling, Literature, tweens and teens

Happy Hunger Games (aka: Our First Boomerang Bookclub)

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

This year, my 7th grader (Kayleigh), graduated from using the BraveWriter Arrow book guides (grades 3-6) to the Boomerang book guides (grades 7-12).

The Boomerang book guides include Think-Piece questions and it wasn’t a whole lot of fun to discuss the questions between the two of us, so I decided to organize a book club!

I selected one of my favorite books, Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, as our kick-off book. The characters are fantastic and the writing is incredible.  I was hopeful that our first book discussion would be easier because I knew that most of the girls would be familiar with the plot.

We kicked off our first meeting last night and it was a huge hit!

Our First Party School Book Club was Hunger Games themed for a discussion of Catching Fire. Click for ideas for food, decor and discussion. Continue Reading