For details on the films in each session, click above on the tab for "Summer/Fall" or "Winter/Spring"

The more learning is like play, the more absorbing it will be. -William Reinsmith

Your kids will be so excited about movies, they'll hardly notice they are writing!

Movie Discussion Club takes the popular movies that your kids love and provides the spark for

  • writing practice
  • critical thinking
  • Big Juicy Conversations
  • sharing their thoughts with peers

Play used to involve blocks and dolls. Now conversation is the exciting new playground for your tweens and teens. Let's harness that desire to talk about all. the. things!

In this class, we bypass the pain associated with formats, mechanics, and writing assignments and open the door to playful exploration of

  • new ideas
  • new puzzles to solve
  • new connection
  • new points of view

Psst! Don’t tell your kids—while they are exploring and sharing with their new friends in class, they are gaining transferable thinking skills and growing their writing proficiency! (I know!)

How it works #

  • Each club lasts one month. We watch one movie per week.
  • Students dissect each movie with other fans in our online classroom
  • Our coach leads specific discussions to
    • explore character
    • uncover themes
    • dissect plot points
    • examine cinematic technology and art

Students discover fun new movies and appreciate old favorites. You get to see them composing, exploring, researching and engaging in critical thinking. What’s not to love?

Here’s our pop culture must-see list for winter/spring! #

April 3 - April 28 Survivors

[Perfect pair with May's Boomerang Book Club title, The Hunger Games, and the Arrow Book Club title, The Wild Robot]

  • Wall-E
  • The Hunger Games
  • Raya and the Last Dragon
  • The Jungle Book (1967 version)

May 6 - June 2 Anime Adventures

  • The Boy and the Beast
  • My Neighbors the Yamadas
  • The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
  • From Up on Poppy Hill

June 5 - June 30 Marvel vs. DC
**This club is recommended for teens only

  • Wonder Woman (2017)
  • Captain Marvel
  • Shazam!
  • Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Note: We choose movies ranging from rating G to PG-13. Be sure to evaluate all movies to determine which are appropriate for your family. And remember to check movie availability in your country/region before signing up!

There are no essays or writing assignments in this club. Kids will write, naturally, as they post their thoughts and responses in our online classroom. But since none of their writing will be revised, polished, or graded, your kids will have the chance to explore their thinking using written language, without the pressure to "perform."

Later, when students write essays in other classes or at home, they will find they have greater access to their thoughts and ideas. They'll associate sharing their opinions in writing with ease, delight, flying in a cat bus, and running on water!

Take advantage of this pleasurable way to expand your child's writing and thinking skills. And remember the popcorn!

Important: In Brave Writer, we watch movies that address a wide variety of perspectives and that include time-bound references. Please be aware that you may experience strong reactions to what you watch. By using film as a teaching tool to foster understanding and growth, we have the opportunity to discuss evolving ideologies.

We encourage you to preview movies to determine their appropriateness for your family and to prepare to have discussions on these topics with your students as they participate in the class.

For more information about how the classes are run, please read about online classes.

To explore our Brave Writer classroom, click here to access a sample class.

Materials Used in This Course:

Wall-E The Hunger Games (The Movie) Raya and the Last Dragon The Jungle Book The Boy and the Beast My Neighbor the Yamadas The Girl Who Leapt Through Time From Up on Poppy Hill Wonder Woman (2017) Captain Marvel Shazam! Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Summer/Fall Movie Clubs #

Clubs for 2023 will be posted in mid-April. Here's what we watched last year! #

Before the club begins, line up your copies or streaming sources of the movie through your local library, Amazon, Netflix, AppleTV, or YouTube rental.

You'll start by watching the first film before class starts.

Prescreening Resources #

In order to evaluate whether or not these movies are appropriate for your family, we recommend watching them first and/or using one of the websites below to research titles. It is possible to "sit out" one of the films and participate in the remaining three, though not for a reduced price.

[This page contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases, Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]

Clubs for Summer/Fall 2023 #

Completed Clubs #

Musical Mayhem (Jun 27 - Jul 22, 2022)

Who's ready for a musical? We're always ready! There's something about stories set to song that enchants. Let's do a deep dive this summer!

Note: Musical productions abound! Be sure to check the links to ensure you're watching the correct version.

  1. Moana (2016 PG) In Ancient Polynesia, when a terrible curse incurred by the Demigod Maui reaches Moana's island, she answers the Ocean's call to seek out the Demigod to set things right.

  2. Hairspray (2007 PG) Teenager Tracy Turnblad teaches 1962 Baltimore a thing or two about integration after landing a spot on a local TV dance show.

  3. Annie (1982 PG) A spunky young orphan is taken in by a rich eccentric, much to the chagrin of the cantankerous woman who runs the orphanage.

  4. Into the Woods (1991, stage version) A witch tasks a childless baker and his wife with procuring magical items from classic fairy tales to reverse the curse put on their family tree.

Tim Burton Fans, Unite! (Aug 15 - Sept 9, 2022)

Tim Burton is a director with a particular style. From somber color tones to offbeat humor to whimsical (and somewhat creepy) storylines, Tim Burton films stand apart. We'll go deep into his methods as we examine four fabulous films. Join us!

  1. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005 PG) Based on the novel by Roald Dahl. This fantastical tale follows a boy who wins a tour of a magical chocolate factory.

  2. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993 PG) Jack Skellington, king of Halloween Town, discovers Christmas Town, but his attempts to bring Christmas to his home cause confusion.

  3. Frankenweenie (2012 PG) When a boy's beloved dog passes away suddenly, he attempts to bring the animal back to life through a powerful science experiment.

  4. Alice in Wonderland (2010 PG) Nineteen-year-old Alice returns to the magical world from her childhood adventure, where she reunites with her old friends and learns of her true destiny: to end the Red Queen's reign of terror

Passionate about Pets (Sept 5 - Sept 30, 2022)

Animal movies tug at our heartstrings while they make us laugh—much as our beloved pets do every day. What do moviemakers have to consider when telling a story with animal protagonists? Let's talk about it!

  1. The Secret Life of Pets (2016 PG) The quiet life of a terrier named Max is upended when his owner takes in Duke, a stray whom Max instantly dislikes. Find out what your pets do when you’re not at home.
  2. Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993 G) A fun-loving American bulldog pup, a hilarious Himalayan cat, and a wise old golden retriever embark on a long trek through the rugged wilderness of the Sierra Nevada mountains in a quest to reach home and their beloved owners.
  3. Lilo and Stitch (2002 PG) A young and parentless girl adopts a 'dog' from the local pound, completely unaware that it's supposedly a dangerous scientific experiment that's taken refuge on Earth and is now hiding from its creator and those who see it as a menace.
  4. How to Train Your Dragon (2010 PG) Hiccup, a young Viking, defies tradition and befriends his deadliest foe—a ferocious dragon he calls Toothless. Together, they fight against the odds to save their worlds in this feel-good hit.

Dystopian Worlds (Oct 3 - Oct 28, 2022)

**This club is recommended for teens only

Based on best-selling novels, these movies pull us into imaginary worlds we'd never want to inhabit. We root for these unlikely heroes even as we are grateful not to be in their shoes. Who's ready to delve into the dystopian genre?

  1. The Maze Runner (2014 PG-13) Thomas is deposited in a community of boys after his memory is erased, soon learning they're all trapped in a maze that will require him to join forces with fellow "runners" for a shot at escape.
  2. The Hunger Games (2012 PG-13) Katniss Everdeen voluntarily takes her younger sister's place in the Hunger Games: a televised competition in which two teenagers from each of the twelve Districts of Panem are chosen at random to fight to the death.
  3. Divergent (2014 PG-13) In a world divided by factions based on virtues, Tris learns she's Divergent and won't fit in. When she discovers a plot to destroy Divergents, Tris and the mysterious Four must find out what makes Divergents dangerous before it's too late.
  4. The Giver (2014 PG-13) In a seemingly perfect community, without war, pain, suffering, differences or choice, a young boy is chosen to learn from an elderly man about the true pain and pleasure of the "real" world.

Marvel's Greatest Hits (Oct 10 - Nov 4, 2022) #

We've talked about The Avengers. Now it's time to check in with the individuals. Let's discuss some of our favorite films. Are these stories better than The Avengers? Do they deserve as much attention? More? We know you have opinions about how the special effects evolved over time, how the characters evolve, and how well the directors succeeded in their mission to tell such a range of stories. Join us for the ultimate Marvel binge watch!

  1. Iron Man (2008 PG-13) Multi-millionaire and arms dealer Tony Stark is caused to re-evaluate his life choices when he is captured and nearly killed in enemy territory. The inventor creates a life-saving device to keep his body alive—oh, and also a pretty spectacular suit of armor. Is wise-cracking Iron Man "save the world" material?

  2. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2104 PG-13) Captain America already had to adjust to life in the new century after spending time in World War II being experimented on and then frozen for decades. But that was the last movie. Now he's navigating confusing orders from a new organization (S.H.I.E.L.D.), rumors of evil HYDRA infiltrating that organization, and the existence of a mysterious Winter Soldier who doesn't wish him well. All in a day's work, Cap.

  3. Thor: Ragnarok (2017 PG-13) For arguably the most comical installment of the Thor films, director Taika Waititi sends Thor out of his element, away from Asgard and his source of power. The son of Odin discovers life-changing truths about Asgard and the true threat to its continued existence. He recruits friends both new and old for an epic confrontation against the most powerful forces he's ever faced.

  4. Black Panther (2018 PG-13) This story centers on a hidden land deep in Africa (Wakanda) and a mysterious substance that extends special power to the inhabitants there. The leader, King T'Challa, must inhabit his alter ego, Black Panther, to save his homeland when he encounters an old foe.

Disney+ Deep Dive (Nov 14 - Dec 9, 2022) #

**Unlinked films are available with a Disney+ subscription only

These coming-of-age stories are told in the way only Disney and Pixar can do it. If you love your Disney+ subscription, you won't want to miss this club!

  1. Encanto (2021 PG) This movie tells the tale of the Madrigals, an extraordinary family living in a magical house in the Colombian mountains. But when Mirabel, the only ordinary family member, discovers the magic surrounding their home is in danger, she may be her family’s last hope.
  2. Turning Red (2022 PG) The typical difficulties of becoming a teen are the least of 13-year-old Meilin's problems. Her big concern: she turns into a giant red panda whenever she gets too excited.
  3. Luca (2021 PG) Set in a seaside town on the Italian Riviera, this is a coming-of-age story about a young boy experiencing an unforgettable summer. Luca shares these adventures with his friend, Alberto, but all the fun is threatened by a deeply-held secret: they are sea monsters from another world below the water’s surface.
  4. Onward (2020 PG) Even a fantastical world has its share of everyday problems. Two elven brothers must put aside their sibling rivalry to embark on a quest to bring their father back for one day.

Winter/Spring Movie Clubs #

Before the club begins, line up your copies or streaming sources of the movie through your local library, Amazon, Netflix, Apple TV, or YouTube rental.

You'll start by watching the first film before class starts.

Prescreening Resources #

In order to evaluate whether or not these movies are appropriate for your family, we recommend watching them first and/or using one of the websites below to research titles. It is possible to "sit out" one of the films and participate in the remaining three, though not for a reduced price.

[This page contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases, Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]

Clubs for Winter/Spring 2023 #

Survivors (April 3 - April 28, 2023)

[Perfect pair with May's Boomerang Book Club title, The Hunger Games, and the Arrow Book Club title, The Wild Robot]

  1. Wall-E (2008 G)
    The story begins on an Earth centuries in the future. It's a bleak, garbage-strewn place whose only citizen seems to be WALL-E (short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class), a sanitation robot who's improbably enamored of the musical Hello, Dolly! Then one day, a spaceship drops in for a pit stop and leaves behind an egg-shaped robot
    ... - Common Sense Media
  2. The Hunger Games (2012 PG-13 intense violence)
    In a distant post-apocalyptic future, North America -- now known as Panem -- is composed of 12 districts that are controlled by the totalitarian Capitol, and every year, one boy and one girl from each of the districts are randomly selected to compete in the Hunger Games, a televised battle to the death for the Capitol's amusement
    . - Common Sense Media
  3. Raya and the Last Dragon (2021 PG)
    This is the story of Kumandra, a once prosperous land where powerful dragons co-existed with humans until the Druun, a plague-like enemy that manifests as relentless purple-and-black blob monsters, started turning everyone to stone.
    - Common Sense Media
  4. The Jungle Book (1967 G)
    Based on Rudyard Kipling's story, the movie tells the tale of Mowgli, the "man cub" found by benevolent panther Bagheera, who tucks the baby boy safely away with a family of wolves. Mowgli grows up happy, living in the jungles of India. But the jungle won't be safe for him once the tiger Shere Khan finds out here's there.
    - Common Sense Media

Anime Adventures (May 6 - June 2, 2023)

  1. The Boy and the Beast (2016 PG-13)
    The Boy and the Beast is an animated Japanese fantasy about an orphaned 9-year-old boy, Ren, who would rather take to the streets of Tokyo than move in with distant relatives. Grieving, he wanders the streets of the city's Shibuya district (reminiscent of Times Square); while walking in dark alleys, he ends up stumbling into an alternate universe called Jutengai, which is filled with speaking "beasts."
    - Common Sense Media
  2. My Neighbors the Yamadas (1999 PG)
    Meet the Yamadas, a kooky family of five: impatient father Takashi, frazzled mom Matsuko, easily embarrassed son Noboru, mischievous daughter Nonoko, and feisty grandmother Shige. In several short vignettes, the family deals with dramas large (accidentally leaving Nonoko behind at a mall; Shige realizing her good friend is hospitalized) and small (kids leaving their homework; Matsuko not knowing what to make for dinner; Noboru experiencing his first crush) with their own comical flair. - Common Sense Media
  3. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2008 PG-13 language, bullying, sexual reference)
    Makoto Konno, a seemingly typical teenager, discovers she can leap through time and alter the course of events in her life and the lives of those around her in ways both large and small. As she begins to understand the effects this "time leaping" has on her friends, Makoto must learn to be honest with her feelings as she struggles to make things right. - Common Sense Media
  4. From Up on Poppy Hill (2013 PG)
    In 1963 Yokohama, Japan, Umi is a junior in high school who has a lot of responsibility: She runs her family's boarding house, takes care of her younger siblings, and makes time for her schoolwork while her mother studies abroad in the United States. Her father was presumably lost at sea during the Korean War. One day, Umi has a formative encounter with classmate Shun, one of many boys trying to save their school's historical clubhouse from being demolished and replaced in the lead-up to the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
    - Common Sense Media

Marvel vs. DC (June 5 - June 30, 2023)

**This club is recommended for teens only

  1. Wonder Woman (2017 PG-13 sexual references, language)
    Young Diana desperately wants her aunt, warrior General Antiope, to train her -- but her mother, Queen Hippolyta, forbids it. Eventually the queen relents, and Diana becomes the strongest warrior on the island, embracing the Amazons' responsibility of protecting humanity against Ares, the god of war. One day during World War I, an airplane crashes in the sea, and Diana saves the pilot -- the first man she's ever met.
    - Common Sense Media
  2. Captain Marvel (2019 PG-13 misogynistic innuendo, language)
    Captain Marvel's origin story begins as Kree warrior Vers visits Earth on a mission to stop a shape-shifting alien infiltration. She teams up with Nick Fury to save the planet from a war between two alien races. As she regains lost memories, she realizes the extent of her own powers and develops into the universe's most powerful superhero.
    - Common Sense Media
  3. Shazam! (2019 PG-13 sexual references, language)
    Troublemaking 14-year-old foster kid Billy Batson gets a last-chance placement with a large, diverse foster family. One day at school, Billy protects his new foster brother, Freddy, who has a physical disability, from bullies and ends up in the secret lair of a powerful but aging wizard. Suddenly the wizard gives Billy the ability to transform into an adult superhero by saying the word "Shazam!" - Common Sense Media
  4. Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021 PG-13 language)
    Shang-Chi is the son of two supernatural people: superstrong (and basically immortal) Wenwu, possessor of the Ten Rings, and Ying Li, a fellow martial arts master who hails from the secret powerful community Ta Lo and is the only rival to ever defeat Wenwu. When Shang-Chi's mother dies, Wenwu, who had given up the Ten Rings to devote himself to his family, goes back to building his criminal empire and training Shang-Chi to be the best killer/assassin and successor; he eventually escaped. Years later, Shang-Chi is trying to lead a normal life when danger comes calling.
    - Common Sense Media

Completed Clubs #

Miyazaki Magic (January 2 - January 27, 2023) #

  1. My Neighbor Totoro (1988 G)
    It's 1958 Japan, and 10-year-old Satsuki, 4-year-old Mei, and their father move to the countryside where their mother is hospitalized with a long-term illness. As they get settled into their new home, the girls discover there are magical creatures, like dust sprites, that inhabit their house and neighborhood.
    - Common Sense Media
  2. Spirited Away (2002 PG)
    Chihiro is a sullen 10-year-old girl who wanders into a world ruled by witches and spirits, where humans are changed into animals. The film centers on Chihiro's quest to save her parents after they're transformed into pigs by Yubaba, the scary witch who rules over the spirit world.
    - Common Sense Media
  3. Howl's Moving Castle (2005 PG)
    Howl is a wizard who's had his heart stolen by a demon. His efforts to recover himself include assembling a ragtag "family" to live with him in his moving castle. The newest member is Sophie, a 90-year-old housekeeper who's really an 18-year-old hat-maker, cursed by the large and lumpy Witch of the Waste so that she can't tell anyone that she's been transformed. - Common Sense Media
  4. Kiki's Delivery Service (1990 G)
    Kiki follows family tradition and settles down for a year in a foreign city to serve as the resident witch. She makes friends, finds room and board, and uses her broom-flying ability to launch a delivery service. - Common Sense Media

Myths and Legends (February 6 - March 3, 2023) #

[Perfect pair with January's Boomerang Book Club title, The Odyssey]

  1. Hercules (1997 G)
    Hercules was the adored son of gods Zeus and Hera, stolen by Hades, ruler of the underworld, and made mortal. He must become a true hero to become a god again so he can live with his parents on Mount Olympus.
    - Common Sense Media
  2. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010 PG)
    Seemingly normal (albeit dyslexic) D student Percy Jackson realizes that something is very wrong when he's attacked by a demonic beast during a class trip and whisked away by his mother and friend Grover to a secret camp. He wakes up in an infirmary like no other, teeming with teens in Greek battle gear.
    - Common Sense Media
  3. Thor (2011 PG-13)
    After his son Thor storms Yodenheim -- the realm that the Norse gods' native Asgard has been in an uncertain peace with for eons -- because of an unexpected attack from the Frost Giants, Odin banishes him and his hammer to Earth. There, Thor literally runs into an astrophysicist who impresses him; he also learns humility and grace.
    - Common Sense Media
  4. The Sword in the Stone (1963 G)
    Based on the book The Once and Future King by T.H. White, The Sword in the Stone is the story of the early years of King Arthur. Nicknamed "Wart," the future King Arthur is squire to a knight when he meets Merlin the magician, who promises to take on his education. - Common Sense Media

Fantasy Epics (March 6 - March 31, 2023)

  1. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe (2005 PG)
    Based on C.S. Lewis' beloved novel, the story begins when the Pevensie children -- Peter, Edmund, Susan , and Lucy -- are sent away from the dangers of World War II to live in the country with Professor Kirke. While playing hide and seek, they discover the magical wardrobe that serves as a portal to Narnia, a kingdom under the power of the evil White Witch.
    - Common Sense Media
  2. Inkheart (2009 PG)
    This story chronicles the adventures of 12-year-old bookworm Meggie and her father, Mo, a respected bookbinder. Mo is not only a rare-book specialist, he's a Silvertongue -- he has a secret magical ability to bring the written word to life when he reads aloud.
    - Common Sense Media
  3. Stardust (2007 PG-13)
    Based on Neil Gaiman's novel, Stardust chronicles the adventures of Tristan, a young man who ventures beyond the mysterious wall that surrounds his town to find a fallen star so he can bring it back to the town beauty to prove he's worthy of her love.
    - Common Sense Media
  4. Golden Compass (2007 PG-13)
    The movie opens in an alternate world version of Oxford, where Lyra lives with her uncle, Lord Asriel. In Lyra's world, everyone has a "daemon," an animal embodiment of his or her personality and soul. While adult daemons are "settled," children's are in flux. Lyra is troubled as her friends disappear before they can mature, apparently kidnapped by "Gobblers."
    - Common Sense Media

Class Structure Description #

Brave Writer online classes are specially designed with the busy homeschooling parent in mind. Classes last anywhere from four to six weeks. We offer courses that address a specific writing need so that you can take the ones that suit your family throughout the school year. Short class sessions enable you to work around family vacations, out-of-town swim meets, recovering from wisdom teeth removal, and visits from grandparents. We operate on the quarter system, including a summer session. Our most popular classes repeat each quarter, while others are seasonal.

Our classes meet in a customized online classroom, designed specifically to meet the needs of Brave Writer. Only registered students and the instructor have access to the classroom to ensure your privacy. Assignments and reading materials are posted by Brave Writer instructors each week (no additional supply fees necessary, unless otherwise indicated). Either you (homeschooling parent) or your child (homeschooling student) will visit the classroom daily at your convenience to read helpful information about the current topic or to find the writing assignment. We operate "asynchronously" (which means that the discussion is not live, but that posted information remains available to you in your time zone at your convenience). Instructors check the classroom throughout the day to answer questions and give feedback on writing.

Writing is done at home and then typed into the classroom, and shared with both the instructor and other classmates. You're not required to be online at any specific time of the day. We have students from all over the world participating in our classes so "live" discussion is impossible. Instead, the online classroom enables the instructor to post information and assignments when it is convenient to the instructor. Then, when it is convenient for you, you come to the classroom and read the latest postings.

Instructor feedback to student writing is offered for all participants to read. Writing questions are welcomed and encouraged! That's the point of class. We aim to give you immediate support as you face writing obstacles.

Brave Writer takes seriously the need for encouragement and emotional safety in writing. No student is ever at risk of being humiliated or mistreated. All online dialog is respectful and supportive of your child's process. This is the core of Brave Writer philosophy. You can read about Brave Writer values here.

What makes our program especially unique in the world of online education is that we value a corporate experience. Rather than teaching your child in a tutorial format, we prefer students to have the opportunity to both publish their work for an audience (other students) and also to have the chance to read other student writing. In no other setting is this possible. Schools-in-buildings rarely have students read each other's work. Homeschooled children are rarely in a classroom environment to begin with, so the opportunity to read peer-writing is nil.

Our classes provide an utterly unique experience in the world of writing instruction. Since most writers grow through emulation of good writing, it is a real advantage to Brave Writer kids to get the chance to read the writing of their fellow home-educated peers. They love it! They get to examine and internalize other ways of writing, analyzing and expressing ideas similar to their own. They have the chance to validate and cheer on their peers. And of course, the best part of all is that they receive the praise and affirmation of kids just like them.

Not only that, all instructor feedback is posted to the classroom for all students to read. That means your kids get the benefit of instructor comments on many papers, not just their own. We've noted that this style of instruction is especially effective and hope you'll agree!

To explore our Brave Writer classroom, click here to access a sample class.