Charlotte Mason

CM Monday – How We Narrate

In our house, we narrate in a variety of ways.  The most common way we narrate is orally, after a single reading.  There are times when I simply listen to these narrations, but more often than not, I capture them with a digital voice recorder.  I like having a record of the narrations my children give, and they like seeing their narrations typed up and placed in their notebooks.  I tried (in the beginning) to type their narrations as they gave them, but we all found that to be difficult and rather distracting.  My youngest, Zoey, has a natural gift for narrating, especially for her age (6), and she remembers a LOT of detail!  Cole had to develop the gift or narration, and Sydni is still working on becoming a fluent narrator.

Belling the Cat by Aesop (narration by Zoey, age 6)

The mice were having a meeting about the cat and he was their worst enemy.  A young mouse said, “I have a plan but it’s not going to be this simple.”  The plan was belling the cat so the mice know their enemy is coming.  The old mouse said that’s hard to do.

Diogenes the Wise Man (narration by Zoey, age 6)

Diogenes was a very, very wise man.  He was brave to say, “Get out of my sunlight!” to the king, who was Alexander the Great.  He lived in a barrel and he rolls it around all over the city.  He was looking around in the daytime with a torch for someone who is honest.

We also act out narrations with toys – paper dolls, Barbies, Legos, etc.  This is frequently done when reading Shakespeare. It helps them understand and internalize the story as we are reading it.  Shakespeare is performance art, after all.

(Here they are listening to – and acting out – “A Comedy of Errors.  This is not Cole’s preferred way to narrate.  LOL!)

Another popular form of narration, especially with my reluctant narrating middle child (Sydni), is to illustrate a scene or the entire story.  In my mind, this is much more difficult, but she often freaks out when asked to narrate orally, and this, in her mind, is the way to go!  I don’t let her do this for every narration, but it’s definitely a handy form of “telling.”

Theseus & the Minotaur (illustrated narration by Sydni, age 8.)

This is Ariadne falling in love with Theseus and giving him a sword, a torch, and a ball of twine to make his way out of the labyrinth.

This is Theseus slaying the Minotaur.  🙂

Finally, Cole often types up his own narrations.  I open up Word and when he is finished reading, he just hops on the computer and types away.  Handwriting it not his favorite thing, and when I began asking him to write narrations (shortly after he turned 10) he was freaking out about actually writing.  Typing is definitely his preferred way to give a written narration.

Hera, Zeus, & Io (written narration by Cole, age 11)

After Zeus beat Echidna’s husband Typhon he decided to marry Hera but she refused at first.  Then Zeus walked away sadly, and disguised himself as a bird in danger.  She hugged the bird and then he transformed into Zeus and she was holding the mighty god and they got married.  But then he was always liking other girls on earth.  He fell in love with one girl named Io and he had to change her into a cow to protect her.  Hera knew it was one of the mortals.  She tied the cow up to the tree and tells Argus who was the guys who defeated Echidna, to watch over the cow.  People say that when he was sleeping he [Argus] would close 50 of his eyes and keep the other 50 open.  Zeus was furious and told Hermes to go down in disgise and free her.  Hermes went down disgised as a shepherd and started to play some music.  Then he told Argus a story with no end and then Argus shut 50 of his eyes and then the other 50 and then Hermes made his eyes close forever and Argus was dead.  Then Hera sent a wasp to sting Io and she ran to Egypt and was worshiped as an egyptian god.  Hera agreed to turn her back into a human as long as Zeus promised never to look at her again.  Then Hera took the all of the eyes of Argus and put them on her favorite bird which was the peacock and that is why peacock feathers have eyes that look closed.

He still has some editing to do, but overall, I am pleased!

There are many ways for children to “tell” what they have learned from a reading.  What are some ways your narrate in your home?

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8 thoughts on “CM Monday – How We Narrate

  1. What a great idea to type up the narrations! The acting out with dolls is a great idea also, my son would probably prefer a live narration with gi joes though! 🙂

  2. We use different dolls, draw pictures and write short sentences on the page with them, etc. I think the children enjoy it much better when they have a variety of ways to narrate.
    I think your children are doing great with their narations. I need to invest in me a digital player.

  3. I really love narrations! They capture what the child knows so much more than anything else that I’ve tried. My dd (14) has an almost photographic memory and that is not really a good thing (imho) because she could pass multiple choice tests quite easily but when asked later what she learned- nada.
    Interesting idea of the digital voice recorder. I have one of those -maybe I will use it. Not sure how my kids will like it though…
    Have a great week 🙂

  4. I tried the writing of my son’s narration as he gave it. Bad move. I couldn’t keep up and to stop him to catch up or ask for something to be repeated really messes up the flow of the narration. I tried typing too and still couldn’t keep up. So we’re back to him just telling (and later he can do his own writing) and as you’ll see from the post I submitted for the CM carnival, he enjoys talking to his camera. We do the stick figure things for Shakespeare (http://www.kaypelham.com/2011/02/25/james-explains-shakespeares-cymbeline/). We used to act out stories with his action figures, but got away from that and not he is self-conscious about doing it. Wonder what the dynamic would be if he had siblings to act out the stories with. Good for you that your kids do this together. Please tell Cole that I thought his written/typed narration was very good. Sydni’s drawn narrations are very good as well and I think they are just as valuable for internalizing the stories. I was impressed with Zoey’s adding in her analysis of Diogenes’ character in her narration.

  5. I am so glad that I found you via the CM Carnival! This post is wonderful in a hundred ways! 🙂 It was very helpful to me to read what each child enjoys most, what each doesn’t like, and how you make it work with the three. One of my concerns with having 4 (though the youngest is not quite 2yo) is that I see tremendous differences in my oldest two and how they respond to narration. My oldest is a natural at oral narration, and can recall whole passages (when she’s reading something she likes) verbatim. My second child, age 7, is far more dreamy and her focus only lasts a couple minutes. It has been a lesson in patience, which I know will pay off for her and the whole family. Thank you for sharing, and I look forward to keeping up with you and spending “research” time on your blog!

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