How to Effectively Use the Brave Writer Arrow Guides

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Our family has been using the Brave Writer Arrow Guides for several years and these guides have worked particularly well for our homeschool.

But there is definitely a learning curve when it comes to using the Brave Writer curriculum and the Arrow and Boomerang Guides are no exception. Many homeschool parents aren’t quite sure how to implement the guides and the Brave Writer guides can be a little confusing.

Our weekly routine showing how we implement the brave writer arrow guides in our homeschool

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Meet the Brave Writer Arrow Guides

The Arrow guides are 3rd-6th-grade book-specific literature guides designed for parents to guide their students through four weeks of language arts activities. The Arrow Guide includes weekly copywork/dictation passages alongside notes about the passage incorporating grammar, spelling, punctuation, and literary style. Each guide also focuses on a specific literary element and includes 9 discussion questions.

Arrow Guides can be purchased individually by title or parents can purchase a year-long subscription for 10 guides and receive them once a month from August through May.

Reading the Book Selection

We always begin the book before we start the arrow guide, even if we have to put off our Monday morning copywork plan for a day. It is important to have read at least through the copywork passage for the week. The first week’s passage is typically in the first chapter or two, so it isn’t hard to get to that point.

Reading the mixed up files of mrs. basil E. Frankweiler with my kids and using our Brave Writer Arrow Guide.

Once we start the guide, we just read a little each day and move at a pace comfortable to us that keeps us ahead of the weekly passages. Sometimes we finish the entire book by week 2 in the guide. Other times we have to read extra amounts of time to get caught up by week four.

Regardless of when we finish the book, it takes us four weeks to complete the activities and copywork in the guide.

Our Weekly Schedule Using the Arrow Guide

Because each of the Brave Writer Arrow Guides is divided into four weeks, we read one book a month. While every week looks a little different, we do have a typical routine and flow to our week.

Some weeks have more discussion and work involved while other weeks are less complicated so we have learned to go with the flow. Below you’ll find the general overview we try to follow each week as we complete our Brave Writer Arrow guide.


(If it is week 1, begin your day by reading a few chapters so you are ready for the copywork passage.)

I typically write the copywork passage written on my dry-erase board. If it is too long, I make copies to hand to each of my children. We read and discuss the spelling and grammar in the passage based on the notes provided in the guide. Then the kids mark up the passage on the dry erase board or the photocopied page.

I might ask them to circle all of the capital letters and then tell me why it is capitalized. We might underline our favorite verb or dig for some colorful adjectives. I pull ideas from the guide and make them up as I go along.

Then my kids begin copying the passage in their copywork notebooks. My younger children simply copy the passage under my writing because I write it on every other line of their notebooks the day before. My older children copy it from the guide.

It is quite difficult for some kids to copy the passage from the guide, so I am happy to write it in their notebooks the day before. I leave room under my words so they can copy the passage below my writing.

Setting up copywork for our Brave Writer Arrow guides


My kids will continue writing the copywork passage. They move at their own pace and I allow them a few days if the passage is particularly long. Sometimes they’ll also choose a few of the more difficult words to practice a few extra times.

If this is a good day for discussion, we will discuss notes in the guide about the literary element. We also revisit grammar and/or spelling as needed. If today is hectic, then I put off our discussion until tomorrow.


Typically my kids finish copying the passage today and we wrap up any discussion topics ramining in the guide.

Thursday and Friday

I like to leave the end of the week open because we typically have some catch-up to do on items we didn’t finish from our Mon-Wed plans. If we had an ideal week, then we can use these days to complete a dictation activity during our “Arrow” time or just enjoy the fruits of our labor and read a little more of the book each day.

Thursday and Friday are ideal times to work a little on the literary element activity included in week 4. We typically do this during week 4, but sometimes it is more appropriate to start earlier. These days are also good ones to work on any Brave Writer writing projects that we have chosen for the month.

My daughter's poem was a project from our Brave Writer Arrow Guide

Using the Big Juicy Questions

We usually don’t wait until the end to discuss the questions. Instead, I will ask them as we read the book. I keep an eye on the list of questions and ask the appropriate ones as we hit that chapter or section. We discuss the questions as a group. As my kids get older, I will follow up our discussion time by asking my kids to write out their answers to one of the questions.

Practicing spelling and grammar

While I think copywork is an extremely effective way to teach both, I typically supplement the guides. My middle two children need a lot of spelling help, so they each complete a formal spelling program.

We have dabbled in all sorts of grammar programs, though nothing very intense. We have read through most of First Language Lessons Level 1 and Level 2 together to memorize the definitions of important grammar terms. This year, I ordered grade level Evan Moore Grammar and Punctuation guides for the kids to complete 1-2 times a week when our Arrow activities are light.

Using the Arrow Guides with Multiple Grade Levels

Because the Arrow Guides titles are appropriate for a wide range of ages, I try to combine as many of my children as possible into the same guide. The children who are old enough will also complete the copywork and activities in the guide. Younger children can just enjoy the book and join the discussions as they are able.

When my oldest child entered 7th grade, moved her into the Boomerang Guides though she will read and work independently. I’ll still try to make time to discuss the literary element with her, but she can read the copywork information on her own.

Of course, that is the same year we began organizing monthly themed book clubs so we could discuss the questions in the guide. Our themed book clubs are some of my favorite homeschool memories with my kids and I highly recommend organizing one.

Have you tried the Brave Writer Arrow Guides? How does it look in your house?

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  1. We are using The Arrow guides this year for the first time. We are also using Jot It Down with my youngest and Partnership Writing with my oldest. It is so helpful to see how you scheduled it all! Thank you!

  2. I just watched your scope and it was SO helpful! This is our first time using the bravewriter program and I’m feeling overwhelmed (I really love the program and know once I get into a better routine:rhythm we’ll be able to get the most out of it). I wasn’t really sure how the Arrow would work for my second grader so I purchased the arrow for my 4th grader and quiver of arrows for my 2nd grader. I’m not sure if I should combine them or keep trying to do both. I would really like to have us all reading the same book but now feel bad after having purchased quiver of arrows!

    1. Lleana,

      I am so glad it was helpful! I have used the Quiver and the ARrow with a variety of ages. The year we did the Quiver, I had a 4th, 2nd and kinder using it and it worked just fine. My 4th grader either listened with us or read on her own if she wanted. We had our conversations about the book together and we worked through the copywork activities together. I think you could definitely do the Quiver together and focus on the titles that you think would be best for the whole group. (We skipped Winnie the Pooh for personal preference – I can’t stand Pooh…sigh; and we skipped another but I forget which one) So you might be able to swing so eof the Quiver titles and then do some of the Arrow titles after that. THAT being said, I wouldn’t pressure yourself to use it if there are titles that your 4th grader won’t enjoy. Pick the ones he will enjoy. the Quiver is VERY similar to the Arrow, but just with titles more geared at 1st/2nd grade. Hope that helps!

      1. I think this answered my question. I’ve been trying to figure out if the program builds on itself or if I can just pick a few of the books, as I’m not a fan of Pooh either, and I don’t think my son would enjoy a couple of the other titles. Thanks for your review!

  3. Does this curriculum teach writing? Do children actually write papers? I see copy work & grammar but no actual “essays”…creative writing, persuasive, narrative…does this do that ever? I want to use it as we love good lit but I don’t want to have to have too many supplements.
    Thanks much!

    1. Yes. this is a writing program. The Writers Jungle is the core of the curriculum and the heart of the writing from K-12. The Arrow is a literature guide (one product) to teach literary elements, grammar, spelling, etc through literature. It is not a writing guide, though there are writing activities. If you are looking for high school level essays, I would check out “Help for High School” from Brave Writer or the online classes. Hope that helps.

  4. In my house, they just read what they want. I make sure that I keep lots of great library books around but I don’t typically “assign” reading. I might assign a reading time period, but they can pick what to read. Calvin and Hobbes is a current favorite 🙂

  5. Mary, how much time do you allocate for your arrow time daily? I’m looking at school schedules for the fall for my then 11yog and 14 yob.

    1. Hi Marcie,

      We typically spend 10-15 minutes on M, T, and/or W for lessons from the Arrow. We read a chapter a day and discuss it a bit. That varies from 15-30 minutes depending on the book.

  6. I have been looking at Quiver for my second grader and Arrow for my fourth gragder but am so apprehensive to start both. This is an add on to our Playful Pioneers curriculum (copy, dictation and crafts based on the Little House series). I don’t want to defeat myself by starting with so many different levels and read alouds. My fourth grader HATES writing, but he loves telling stories about all his ideas. He has amazing penmenship also! I think he would do well starting out with Quiver with his younger brother (who doesn’t like to write more than a sentence or so. ) What I’m thinking is they both work on Quiver and then next year they work on Arrow. I don’t want to push my oldest into Arrow with out making sure he has a solid foundation. Thoughts? It sounds like you’ve done this before and can give me some insight.

    1. I think that is a great plan! I had three kids in the Quiver one year and it worked well. Then you could move on to the Arrow, but adopt it for your younger child.

  7. Hello, we just started using an arrow guide today and there was a lot of grammar notes to cover (spelling and vocabulary, verbs, nouns, subject predicate, possessive and common nouns, etc…) do you cover all of them at once? I tried to but I lost my 10 year old half way through. What ids your usual routine for how and when to cover the grammar portions? Thanks!

    1. I am sorry – we stopped using Brave Writer guides a few years ago and I can’t quite remember. But I wouldn’t try to do it all at once for sure!

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