A reader wrote and asked me,
“I understand that my 10-year-old should be writing some of his narrations, but he still balks when faced with his blank notebook page. How do I encourage his early written narrations. He’s very visual and artistic. Does an illustration count as narrations?”
Narrations (or “telling back”) are the cornerstone of a Charlotte Mason education and this complex learning activity takes years to master before your child can confidently write his written narrations. Illustrations are an excellent starting point for early narrations.
Here are some creative narration ideas ~
- Draw or illustrate the most important scene/ the ending/ the main character/ the surroundings/ machines or inventions mentioned. Draw articles mentioned instead of making lists. My kindergartener start drawing pictures of their narrations in a large jotter. Sometimes this was part of their “busy hands with listening ears” activity while I read aloud. Afterwards, as they told me what they remembered of the story, I jotted their narrations next to or under their illustration, capturing a detailed, personal retelling.
- Mom prints the child’s dictated narration next to or under their illustrations in pencil. Encourage young writers to then trace over the penciled narration with a colored pen or felt-tipped pen. This forms excellent handwriting practice and develops the child’s handwriting stamina. It also looks like “their own” narration — which it is!
- Draw a comic strip of the narration. A comic strip can include a massive amount of information! Comics with just 6 blocks can easily sum up entire chapters and are great for imaginative, visual children. Comic strips help a child order or sequence their narrations. We did a whole series of comic strips for our Astronomy studies. Here is my free blank comic notebooking page.
- Make a model or 3D image. Children love creating paper or cardstock models, like the 3D Little House in the Big Woods. My children loved to illustrate, color in and cut out the windows, doors, and other folds which, when pasted correctly, formed three-dimensional illustrations. Young children love to lift flaps and look inside doors and windows!
- Use those Lego blocks for narrations! Children draw the backdrops and characters for the scenes in the reading. Punch suitably sized and spaced holes into the cardstock to fit the Lego blocks and clip in between Lego blocks to stand upright. Children can “act out” their narrations. They placed their cardstock scenes and characters into an envelope pasted on their notebook page to store them safely.
- Use minibooks instead of a large notebook page. This helps the child feel more confident that he just has a small space to fill and he need not fill a whole blank notebook page. I often combined minibooks with my notebook pages. The image and heading on the front of the minibook provided an excellent narration prompt. My young kids loved these minibooks and enjoyed planning their own page layout and often filled a large notebook page with several narration-filled booklets. A real Win-Win!
- Lapbooks follow the same principle mentioned above and we used lapbooks for almost all middle school subjects. I believe that lapbooks are an excellent transition to formal notebook narrations.
I hope that these ideas help and encourage you and your child develop creative narrations!