Freedom! That's what I thought as I read this book. Freedom from stress over
my daughter's horrible (so I thought) writing!
The Writer's Jungle is completely different than any other writing
curriculum out there (and I've seen a lot!) Written for homeschoolers by a
writer and homeschooling mom, Julie Bogart, the book teaches you how to
teach your elementary and junior high students how to write.
Julie's philosophy of teaching writing is to teach it like writers honing
their craft. Students are taught to focus on the ideas, the voice, and
choosing the right words to convey their thoughts more so than the
mechanics. That comes later. Too many times moms look at a paper full of
spelling and punctuation errors and feel that our children will never learn
how to write. We totally miss the great ideas our children are trying to
convey; therefore discouraging them and making them feel like they cannot
succeed in writing.
The Writer's Jungle has no set lesson plans. Instead, you learn how to
incorporate various language arts and writing activities into your schedule.
The method starts with narration, reading aloud, copywork, and dictation.
You've probably heard of these things before, but wondered how to
incorporate these elements into your lifestyle. Julie gives you practical
ideas and even sample schedules to help you being using these elements in
The Writer's Jungle includes a whole chapter exploring communication and its
importance. There are fun games to play with your students to illustrate the
importance of precise communication.
Many other writing curricula emphasize the need for using your five senses
in description. Julie takes it a step further with keen observation
activities that include a list of questions to ask about the object so your
student can accurately describe it in great detail.
"Freewriting" is another central activity of Bogart's method. Julie
describes it like this, "Freewriting is the act of keeping your pencil
moving on a blank page of paper for a predetermined amount of time. The
results or contents are unimportant to success. The most important part of
the process is allowing for chaos, musings, incomplete thoughts and ideas to
bubble up from within - uninhibited by a torturous assignment" (p. 46).
There is an entire chapter on the idea of freewriting with instructions for
The rest of the book (17 chapters total, plus two appendices) builds on
these foundational elements and uses Julie's unique methods to help your
student to narrow topics, overcome writer's block, and revise, edit and
publish his work. Basically anything your upper elementary to junior high
student needs to learn about the art of writing is in here. Basic mechanics
such as grammar and spelling are not covered. You will need separate
programs for them or a reference to use while helping your student edit his
The Writer's Jungle busts writing myths, has fun games to play with your
children, and distresses teaching writing. What more could you want? Let me
say it another way: if writing is a dreaded subject in your homeschool, go
immediately to www.bravewriter.com and order the book!
-Product Review by Dawn King, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, July, 2006