Tuesday, September 09, 2008


The concept of narration, in Charlotte Mason's terms, is the retelling of what was just read. This is done to train kids to read carefully and absorb, rather than just skim lightly and have to re-read for content.

While we don't do narration after every single passage that is read by each kid, we do randomly choose one or two items per day to narrate. I had read that kids from a public school setting can be quite resistant to this process, so I wanted to start it out well, before they could develop any negative opinions.

I searched around for other people's creative ideas and blended several of them into my own. Using this little system, my kids actually look forward to narration and count it as a special treat, like an occasional dessert after dinner.

We use a single die, found in a baggie of unclaimed game pieces. After a child reads a passage, s/he rolls. A one or a two means that I will choose the style of narration that will be given. A three or four means that the child will choose from the list. A five or a six means that s/he gets to roll again and let the die decide which item on the list (of six options, conveniently) will be done.

Here is the list:

1. Oral narration (the child just summarizes aloud what was read)
2. Written narration (a couple of sentences or a paragraph, depending on the age of the kid)
3. Draw a picture or a comic strip (my son happily drew a whole chapter of Robinson Crusoe for me this way today)
4. Series of two-word sentences (eg. "Tree grew. Boy saw. Boy wondered. Buffalo ran. Boy worried...." Great for simple subject and predicate.)
5. Charades/pantomime (they enjoy this more than I thought they would)
6. Q & A (this one requires them to roll again; 1-3 = parent quizzes kid, 4-6 = kid quizzes parent)

Narration rocks.

The other night at dinner, I suggested that my daughter tell Daddy about a particular passage she had enjoyed in one of her history books. She narrowed her eyes to suspicious (but merry) little slits and asked, "Do I get to roll?"

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