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book club

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

Books We Read, Brave Writer, DIY, Homeschooling, Periscope

Christmas Ornament for our book clubs

This school year, each of my daughters is involved in a book club. It has been such a sweet time of friendship and learning for each of them.

When I saw this ornament, I knew it was the perfect craft to make in honor of this memorable year of our book clubs.  With a few minor adaptations to make the construction a bit easier and somewhat more secure, I knew this would turn out as a precious memento of our year!

IMG_1114  IMG_1113 Continue Reading

Book Clubs, Brave Writer, Homeschooling, Literature, Periscope

The Outsiders Book Club Celebration for Kids

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

Homeschooling, Literature

Mysterious Benedict Society Book Club

Mysterious Benedict Society Book Club

This afternoon my daughter and a few of her friends gathered for our book club. This month’s selection was, “The Mysterious Benedict Society” by Trenton Lee Stewart.

I didn’t find a lot of ideas online about the book, but I found plenty of ideas when I began searching for brain games and secret agent parties. After a little big of digging around, I was inspired and I put together our book club plan!

A few days before the bookclub, a few special invitations were mailed:


Upon entering the room, each girl discovered a Top Secret folder waiting for them and “Kate Weatherall’s red bucket” filled with supplies for our book club.


The girls began by solving Rebus Puzzles in their folder while waiting for their friends.  Then we played around with solving them as a group.

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Next it was time for some “brain food”.  I have to admit.  I was a at a loss when planning food and snacks for this book club.  There wasn’t a whole lot of food in the plot of the book, other than Constance wanting candy for breakfast.  HA!  I started to look up food that was good for the brain and memory.  Inspired by these, “12 Superfoods to Boost your Brainpower,” I created a little buffet.


Blueberry muffins (blueberries), Guacamole and chips (avocado), walnuts, dark chocolate chips, and bread with dipping oil (olive oil).  Yum!


During our snack, we discussed the book.  We shared our favorite moments, biggest surprises, and the characters we would most like to have as a friend.  Inspired by the information on this site, we talked about the significance of character names.  Then we headed back to our buckets and folders.


Our next task was to make a secret decoder so we could send our partners in crime a hidden message.  Red cellophane is the perfect tool if a secret message is covered in red marker or crayon cross hatches.  I based our simple decoder on this tutorial for a decoder card.  After making them, the girls experimented with red markers and red crayons to hide their blue words.


The girls had a sheet of shapes in their folder to write secret messages in blue and cross hatch them with red.


Now, Kate’s red bucket would not be complete without a sling shot.  Ours wasn’t the traditional sling shot, but more of a marshmallow shooter.  The instructions were simple and we had a fun time trying to shoot the marshmallows into our red buckets.

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Finally, we used our pen lights to send one another messages in morse code.  Each girl had a sheet of morse code in their Top Secret folder.  We used them to send simple words and phrases to one another.



We never had time to get to my “if there is time left” codes, but I did find more fun codes online for anyone else planning a book club.

In the end, we had a fantastic time and memorable book club.  I hope each of the girls encountered this book on a more personal level that they won’t soon forget.

If you missed my periscope as I planned the night before book club, you can find it on this post.

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

Catching Fire Book Club Celebration for Kids

{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