Creative writing is one of the most difficult subjects I’ve ever had to teach in our homeschool. I was an English major in college and I love the writing process, but letting go of what English “should” sound and look like has been a real issue for me personally, so it’s hard for me to teach my kids to write freely.
So I was thrilled to get a chance to post a Brave Writer review after trying the program’s Faltering Ownership for fifth grade creative writing! In fact, I loved Brave Writer so much that it’s going to be our creative writing program for this homeschool year!
Check out our review to see how we used Brave Writer to make creative writing accessible and fun!
*Disclosure: I received access to this resource in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own and I was not required to post a positive review.*
The Faltering Ownership Philosophy
For fifth grade, we used “Faltering Ownership”, the Brave Writer program that’s geared toward 11-12 year olds. I was a little puzzled by the title until I read the introduction to the program, but it turns out that the title fits the program perfectly!
As Julie explains in the intro, middle school is the time when children begin to “take the wheel” of the writing process. It’s kind of like giving your child the keys to the car for the first time and riding in the passenger seat as they drive.
They make turns you’re not expecting and the loss of control can be unnerving for parents, but the experience is essential for kids so that they can take ownership, even if it’s faltering, over their own direction. And Julie applies that analogy to writing.
In middle grades, kids need to develop more confidence in their writing ability. As parents, we shift from teachers to consultants, giving our children direction but also instilling them with confidence to write what they feel. And that means letting them learn to look at language differently.
Once I read the introduction to the program, I had a new outlook on what it means to teach creative writing, even though I’ve already finished a degree in English! So Brave Writer taught me quite a lot as well.
Fifth Grade Creative Writing: Brave Writer Review
We jumped right in with the activities in month 1 – Word Collecting and Building.
One of the first monthly exercises in “Faltering Ownership” is to collect words and learn to use them as building blocks for writing prompts and expressions. Tigger started off by listening to television shows and conversations, as well as by reading signs, snippets of books that were lying nearby, and product labels in stores.
Once she filled several pages of paper with various words, she copied them onto trimmed pieces of index cards.
As you can see, we ended up with quite a lot. She really liked collecting those words.
When we had all of our index cards completed, it was time to group the words into piles. In Faltering Ownership, the instructions are quite liberal, so Tigger could group the words however she wanted: alphabetically, adjective/noun pairs, similar topics, or any other way she could think of.
We aimed for about six or seven words per pile.
Then she started matching them up to create two-word phrases. Faltering Ownership suggested pasting the words on household objects, so we started with our homeschooling space: the dining room.
From the random word pairings, we got some great phrases, including “fuzzy television”,
…and “beautiful friendship”. Awww…
After creating another phrase “cheeky station”, Tigger wrote a short story:
A Land Where Objects Talk
“You should go to Weirdoland. Objects talk, flowers and trees dance, and MUCH MORE. For instance, one day the sun said, “I will shine.” The clouds said, “We will glide.” A grumpy train pulled in. “You’re the grumpiest object I’ve ever seen!”, laughed a cheeky station. “STOP!” snapped the grumpy train. (Psst…they’ve never gotten along.)”
Faltering Ownership recommended asking students how their perspective on language has changed after completing the word building activity. When I asked Tigger, she wrote down her answer:
“Before when I learned language, especially in school, I used to think that language was easy. Now I’m learning that sometimes you have to think about some things. And guess what? IT’S NOT BORING!”
She’s absolutely right. Creative writing is not boring, especially when you can learn to look at words differently and free your mind to use them in new ways.
How to Use Faltering Ownership
Faltering Ownership is designed to be used along with The Writer’s Jungle, the focal point of the Brave Writer curriculum. The Writer’s Jungle is a homeschooling creative writing course that is geared toward parents.
It’s a complete overview of language arts in general – from narration and freewriting to editing and publishing. If you’re unsure where to begin when you’re teaching creative writing, The Writer’s Jungle is basically a guided journey through teaching language arts to your kids.
Since Faltering Ownership is a year-long curriculum, there are exercises for an entire year of creative writing. Naturally, we began with Month 1: Wild Words, but the program continues for 9 months more, covering topics such as historical writing and composing reports. There are also two bonus activities, in case you teach year-round or just want to round out your program with more activities.
Faltering Ownership is based on three core segments: language arts, oral language, and writing projects. One of the things I’m truly enjoying about the program is its emphasis on appreciating language in general before beginning to write. So children can learn to use copywork, narration, and dictation (core components of the Charlotte Mason approach) as keys to examining literature. These are great stepping stones to building their own creativity for what they’ll write later.
Plus, the ebook is beautifully laid out, complete with pictures, diagrams, and prompts. All of the instructions are included for each activity, so you don’t have to be an expert on teaching English before you begin. I can’t tell you how much of a help that was, especially when you’re teaching kids with ADHD and you need to get a lesson done before their attention span goes out the window.
We can’t wait to use Brave Writer for our fifth grade creative writing program to see how much further we can stretch our writing muscles! If you’re interested in trying Faltering Ownership or another one of the Brave Writer programs, you can save 10 percent on your purchase with the code iHomeschoolDiscount. This code is valid through September 21, 2015 only.