Narration shows what your child knows

A new homeschool parent recently asked on Facebook,

How do you know what your child knows?

Charlotte Mason has a very simple method  that reveals what a child knows = narrations.

So how do you start with narrations?

Toddlers naturally retell their stories and nursery rhymes with accurate details.  Think of how they easily tell dad about their latest story or what they saw on their nature walk.  This is a narration.  Oral narrations are natural and, when practiced, form the basis for written narrations.
How then do you develop oral telling-back to written narrations?

Most young children find writing challenging and difficult.  Transition to dictated narrations where Mom writes or types out word-for-word what the child tells.  You act as their scribe.  Young children can illustrate a narration instead of “telling back”.   By and by, your preschooler will have a wonderful collection of dictated narrations in their own notebook.

Develop dictated narrations by writing out their narration using a light pencil, and ask your child to carefully trace over their narration.  Copywork is slow and difficult for children new to writing. Often they will grow weary after tracing over a few lines.  But, gradually, they can neatly copy their narration.

Older children enjoy typing on the computer as the spell check can highlight errors and they can type quicker than handwriting with a neat printout.

Use notebook pages ~

Little House Booklet notebook pages

These are printed pages with lines to assist young children space their handwriting.  Some notebook pages are decorated with borders, clip-art, headings and place for illustrations.  These pages give an incentive to write as the page provides some inspiration.  Young children find that the few sentences they write will quickly ‘fill up’ the lined area and they are less daunted by this than a large blank page.  Studies show that color and illustrations help with memory recall and the clip-art and photos or other visual layout on notebook pages assist them in remembering the information.

Pop over to download my free notebook and copywork pages.

Narrations inspire and expand a child’s vocabulary and instill good grammar without formal lessons. Narrations are far easier activities than fill-in-blanks lessons in workbooks, or memorizing facts from textbooks, or writing out tedious, long notes.  No more boring lessons!

Narrations are unique to each child.  Narrations reveal what each child personally connected with and remembered, and then expressed in their own style and individual character, while still remaining true to the original.

So using Charlotte Mason’s approach, your children will soon deliver the most accurate, detailed oral narrations.  Young children will tell back their story with interesting detail and imitation.  Their vocabulary and writing skills will naturally develop, and as they mature, your children will eventually fill their notebook pages revealing their amazing knowledge, writing skill and creativity.  Just take it slowly, encouraging your child to grow their skills.

With narrations you will easily know what your child knows!

Blessings, Nadene

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Notebook Pages On Hand

Here’s this week’s practical tip ~

notebook pageMy blog was birthed because I wanted to share my notebook pages!

Notebooking is a fundamental basic for a Charlotte Mason– based approach.

Some tips ~

  • Start with free downloads.  Several blogs and websites were a welcome resource when I started homeschooling.   Notebooking Pages, Notebook Fairie and Homeschool Helper Online  were excellent sites!
  • Keep them on hand.  File your notebook pages in a large notebooking ring binder.  Make several copies of your kid’s favourite pages.  Also, I filed notebook pages in my children’s ring binders ready for each lesson so there was no delay between the lesson, looking for a suitable notebook page and their work.
  • Start with basic pages and create specific pages.   When I created pages,  first pages were a variety of blank format/ boxes/ lined and header pages.  Then I created specific pages for Sonlight History notebook pages, Copywork pages for handwriting practice, Biography pages, Bible pages, notebook pages with famous artists, famous musicians and world leaders’ quotes for each theme, topic or chapter we studied.
  • Start small.  For reluctant writers, start with minibooks.  A combination of a notebook page with minibooks is a welcome invitation over a large blank page.  Kids much more easily write a few sentences in a minibook rather than feel like they have to fill a large page.

  • Kids make your own.  As my kids got older, they learnt how to  create their own notebook pages on MS Word. They used a basic blank template  and added their own boxes for illustrations and selected their favourite font.  Later, they typed out their own notes.  Now, my high schoolers often simply write out their notes on lined pages.

Pop over to my Free Pages for your free notebooking downloads.

Blessings, Nadene

Child-led Science Experiments

When we tailor-made this year’s homeschooling for my youngest (she’s 12-years-old) she requested ~

Science Experiments

As I have learnt to “let go” and let her take the lead for her maximum learning enjoyment, I wanted her to be able to “do her own thing”.  We set up a Science Experiment center on our bookshelf.  I simply gathered whatever I had accumulated from our homeschooling curriculums.  Our Science kit and reference books are all from previously purchased Sonlight packages.

Science experiments3

We spent our first session looking through and discussing each item in the Science kit.  We browsed through our Science books and decided which topics she most wanted to study or which apparatus she most wanted to work with.

I have found that if I establish the correct procedures and a few basic safety rules, my children can work quite independently.  (This is true for all other activities such as art, cooking and baking, cleaning house, sewing, washing and ironing.)

Essentially ~ Be safe.  Work carefully.  Clean up after yourself.

Science experiments1

Although I wanted her to have fun, I explained the basic approach used in scientific methodology.  Worded informally, yet covering science concepts, I have found that these principles develop proper scientific thinking.  For example:

  1. What are you studying? = Title
  2. What are you trying to find out? = Question
  3. What is needed? = Materials
  4. What do you predict (or think) will happen? = Hypothesis
  5. Describe what you do step-by-step = Method
  6. Compare with something that does not change = Control
  7. What did you see? = Observation
  8. What did you learn from this? = Inference

Of course, many experiments require a very simplified version of these points above, and, depending on your child’s age and ability, these questions could be simply summed up ~

  1. Title
  2. What I did.
  3. What happened.
  4. What I learnt.

I created a variety of Science Experiment Notebook pages for her. I printed the notebook bundle and she selects a notebook page to suit her experiment and her approach.Science Experiments

She has spurts of Science lessons, some weeks doing almost 3 a day, and other weeks simply reading the books.  Recent unseasonably warm weather made water experiments fun outdoor activities!Science experiments2

My daughter is very visual and loves to draw very detailed diagrams of her experiments.  I have requested that she label items clearly in print and give every picture a caption or descriptive sentence.

I am often her lab assistant and scribe.  I jot down her dictated notes because I want her to focus on the actual activities and not get bogged down in the difficult job of writing her notebook pages, but I have gently encouraged her to note some of the simpler experiments.

In essence, she initiates and leads her Science lessons and activities.  I am there, but as support and encouragement, participating as one discovering alongside my child, and it is really exciting and awesome!

It works for us!  What works for you?

Here is your free download ~ Science Experiment Notebook bundle

Blessings,

Parable Minibooks

blog parable minibooks

My 10-year-old loves our daily Parables minibooks.

She enjoys reading the full, MKJV scriptures in each booklet by herself,

and then narrate the parable back to me.

We have wonderful discussions

and she amazes me with her spiritual insights.

Most of all, she loves to add some things to each minibook  ~

a patch on old cloth,

P1160224

some seeds,

P1160226

a few grains of yeast,

P1160228

jewels,

P1160229

a pearl,

P1160230

some netting and some colored fish,

P1160231

a fluffy lamb

P1160232Her simple delight in these little “add on’s” is a reminder that

young children love the concrete, hands-on activities.

My child’s inspiration has transformed her ‘ordinary’ Bible Notebook pages

into something unique and special!

I am a facilitator to her creativity.

Her notebook pages may turn out quite differently to the way I imagined them,

and that is precisely how it should be ~

HER own!

How do your children make their Bible Study personal?

Blessings,

Textmapping

I came across Textmapping several times this year

Home

and decided to try it out as another part of teaching my middle-schooler’s how to

highlight keywords and use word banks and write her own notes from a text.

Text-mapping is an excellent technique that gives the child an overview of all the text, introduces pre-reading skills, and helps the child differentiate the text.

Basically, your child marks the textbook chapter or relevant pages which have been stuck together to form one long scroll, using highlighters to mark the scroll; they circle, underline or draw boxes around sections, headings, text, illustrations, dates and important vocabulary.

Drawing of a scroll that has been marked with highlighters and colored markers. Shows margin notes and certain key features circled, colored and otherwise marked.
  • The complete layout of a scroll gives the child an immediate overview ~ great for global learners.
  • Because of its length, the child must move along it, zoom in or out, to interact with the text ~ excellent for kinesthetic learners.
  • Marking is very physical and hands-on ~ wonderful for the tactile learner.
  • The colored markings  are very clear and everything can be seen at a glance ~ fabulous for the visual learner.
  • Scrolls and text mapping provide a better fit with the learning strengths of LD and ADD individuals ~ helps children who have learning disabilities or attention deficits.

So how did we do it?

Although I worried about the cost, I color-copied the relevant pages from our textbook and we taped them together.  I wasn’t sorry.  The colored pictures helped Miss.L “read” much of the information.  (And we used some of these illustrations in her notebook pages.)

Miss.L10 started out with a general overview and pointed out all the illustrations, pictures and main headings.

With that done, she took her highlighters and started marking out the text.

Working on the floor, which she enjoyed much more than sitting at the table, she circled the main headings in green.

Then she outlined the illustrations, photos and drawings with grey.

Next she marked the sub-headings and supporting texts with blue.

Then she  used pink and highlighted all the dates.

Finally highlighted some important key words with yellow.

It took just a few minutes.

She hopped up to get a “bird’s-eye view”.

(The book we used here is called “All About South Africa“.  It is a comprehensive reference book with loads of pictures, photographs and pages filled with interesting text. It is an excellent ‘go-to’ book for our South African curriculum “Footprints On Our Land” and the reference book covers history, geography, natural sciences, famous people, important places, trade, industries … the works!)

Did it work?

Yes!

  • She could quickly find the section “Difficulties of Pioneering
  • She was able to focus on the marked area and was not distracted by anything outside the blue circled area.
  • Using a yellow highlighter she underlined the important facts in each sentence.
  • We folded up the scroll so that just her relevant page faced out and went to the table to write her notes.
  • With no fuss, she used the highlighted words, changing the word order and wrote out lovely, clear sentences!
  • She cut out and pasted the illustration on her notebooking page and was done!

I was stunned. The results were impressive!

It was fun, different, easy, simple, relevant and enjoyable!

I will definitely use this technique for the remaining section of history.

Here are my notes from the official Textmapping.org site.~ Text Mapping (my notes focus on the benefits of textmapping, and the colors used for marking non-fiction as well as fiction texts)

(As you can see in this post, this method is not the same as Mind mapping.)

Have you used Textmapping?  Please share your experiences with the readers in the comments.

Blessings,

World War II Notebook Pages, Maps, Timelines & Online Resources

An Observer Corps Spotter on a rooftop in London.

World War II

As with our WWI studies, I wanted to present a brief overview to World War II events, rather than to do a detailed study.  I felt that if any topic raised someone’s particular interest, we would delve into it a little deeper.

Most my children’s existing knowledge of World War II has come through movies.  As a family, we had watched a few WWII classic movies, such as the BBC’s  The Battle of Britain and The Great Escape and the modern release of Pearl Harbor.

I find that holocaust movies can be deeply disturbing.  We selectively guide our children’s viewing of these films.  We watched The Diary of Anne Frank  and The Boy with Striped Pyjamas.

For our History studies, I wanted to create a type of “skeleton” or framework on which they can attach all their existing and new knowledge.

Timeline activities and map work seemed the best method to use.

I spent several hours researching for online resources and there is a stack out there!

I use OneNote for all my web research and notebook preparation.  I simply copy and paste anything I find on the internet on One New Side Note.

What is wonderful about this Microsoft tool (part of the Office package) is that ~

1. it saves everything for you automatically

2.it automatically places the url hyperlink under the clip when you copy and paste a picture, quote, table or whatever.  I use these hyperlinks to go back to the original website or use these references to complete my lapbook organizer or bibliography with one click!

3. you can easily organize your notebooks, filing and creating sections, tabs and new notebooks as you go, or afterwards

Recommended Websites on World War Two:

For the best overviews:

History Animated

A brilliant website with animated maps, timelines and original audio recording, radio broadcasts and famous speeches.  Highly recommended!  Go here to view WWII in Europe and Africa with an outstanding animation of the Battle of Britian.  They also cover the entire WWII Pacific wars and include animated maps with audio of the Japanese Onslaught, America Fights Back and battles on various islands in the Pacific.

History on the Net

They have an excellent site with photos, timelines and free printable notes.  They also include some online word searches and quizzes.

CyberLearning-World.com

Work online on the excellent interactive map of WWII with more notes on the side.  (Excellent visual presentation)

History Of War Online

Here are stacks of links to maps, photos, documents, stories and even recordings of the war.

(I love audio recordings – great for auditory learners and learning with busy hands!)

BBC – History: World War II

With expandable index and excellent notes.

Timelines:

Maps:

World Leaders & Famous Speeches:

Audio recordings of soldiers, civilians and survivors:

Main battles and events:

Pearl Harbor: An excellent animated map of the attack at Pearl Harbor with audio and full click details on the images on the map. Pop back to my New Pearl Harbor Lapbook post

Free WWII Notebook Pages:

(Click the title for your free download)

These come in 3 different layouts.  We combine our minibooks and notebook pages.

I created a concertina-folded timeline to paste into our Book of Centuries.  This way the war “unfolds” 🙂 for the child  and gives them a bird’s-eye view.  This 9 page download comes with detailed timeline notes that the child can use to write their own time line events.

Children colour in the different countries according to whether they are Axis, Allies, Neutral and Occupied Territories on a world map.  Coloured map of Europe during the war is also included.

Enjoy!

Blessings,

World War I Minibooks and Notebook Pages

One-page minibooks are my favourite minibooks because you can tell a whole story on one page. With just 3 folds and a snip, and refolded, it becomes an 8 page booklet filled with info.

(Have you downloaded my one-page minibook templates yet?)

I created several minibooks and notebook pages for our study of

World War I


The first minibook covers the most important events of the war which I adapted from this excellent online animated book of WWI.

The second minibook is about WWI warfare, including trenches, guns, tanks, airships and airplanes.

I made a vocabulary and definitions minibook and created a crossword, word search and match words worksheets to reinforce the new vocabulary. I love the simple worksheet maker at PuzzleFast Instant Puzzle Maker.   You just types the words and their meanings, and you can select whichever game you want and it creates it for you in a jiffy!  Using the same imput you can select several puzzles at a click.

I made World War I notebook pages in 3 variations.  We combine our minibooks and notebook pages.

We concluded our study by writing in all the main events and dates on our Book of Centuries.

You can download your WWI pages here:

Enjoy!

Blessings,

New – Pearl Harbor Lapbook!

We have started our final section of Sonlight American History.

I created a new free lapbook  download~

Pearl Harbor Lapbook

Update:  I’ve broken the above lapbook file into 3 smaller files for easier downloads:

Pearl Harbor Lapbook

The Pearl Harbor Lapbook includes:

  • 19 page download with …
  • lapbook organizer with hyperlinks for each section to original websites
  • Vocabulary and definitions with several activities such as a crossword puzzle, word search and match words with meanings
  • Detailed (even minute-by-minute!) timeline
  • Battleships, Cruisers & Destroyers minibooks
  • Map of harbor to identify ships
  • What happened? with 3 photos to examine, discuss and describe
  • Oral history and survivor reports from a nurse, a sailor and a lieutenant commander to read, discuss and summarize
  • Aftermath of Pearl Harbour with photo and info
  • History Notebook Pages in 3 variations

This lapbook is for upper middle schoolers (for 10 – 12 year olds) but can be adapted for younger middle schoolers or extended for junior high students.

I suggested several alternative activities and introduced some advanced skills like ~

  • summarizing reports
  • making inferences
  • coming to conclusions
  • consequences to events
  • characteristics of heroes
  • write newspaper report
  • create an interview
  • give a radio report

With this in mind, I’m sure my 12-year-old will combine minibooks on the notebook pages, rather than do a lapbook.

If you download and use this lapbook, please feel free to comment here and share your photos and stories!

Blessings,

A Little House Notebook

We all love the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder!

We use the free Little House lapbooks downloaded from Homeschoolshare.com for each book in the series.

This year my 12-year-old-middle-schooler-who-thinks-she’s-junior-high asked for notebook pages instead of doing a lapbook.

I could see this transition coming.  As she has matured, she readily writes lengthy and detailed narrations in her History notebook pages.

I created simple Little House notebook pages, using the question prompts from the lapbook download instructions.

Both children still cover the same work, but present it differently.

Little House Booklet with duct tape binding for easy filing

Miss K12 asked for a small booklet, so I formated it to A5 (half the size of normal print paper).

I included a new vocabulary page and I made her several blank pages for her to illustrate while I read aloud.

Here’s your free download ~ Little House on Plum Creek A5 Notebook

Little House Booklet inside

I’m delighted with her lovely, detailed narrations …

Little House booklet notebook pages

… and her beautiful drawings.

Little House booklet illustrations

My 9-year-old still loves doing lapbooks.  She feels comfortable with the small size of the minibooks.  She happily fills them and often still needs more space.

Inside the Little House Lapbook

She, too, will prefer writing her narrations in notebook pages soon.

Our combination pages are a good middle ground for this transition. We often paste minibook elements on a notebook page and it adds detail and dimension.

My youngest child still needs my help writing longer narrations.  She starts writing her own narration, and I give her correct spelling prompts when needed.  If she gets bogged down in tiny details, I encourage her to make her write short, clear sentences and make her point.

Quite often she get physically tired of writing (it is really hard work), but her brain is still full of ideas.  Rather than let it become a slog, I play scribe and she enthusiastically dictates her flow of thought.

Lovely.

Satisfying for both of us.

I love my children directing some of their homeschool choices.  It keeps them motivated.  The freedom and individuality are the most wonderful part of a tailor-made education!

How do you allow for preferences and differences in your homeschooling?

Blessings,

Organizing our Nature Study Notebooks

We’ve  just started regular Nature Study with Outdoor Hour Challenge with Barb at her blog  Handbook of Nature Study.

Typically, I spent about 3 days organizing the sudden wealth of pages I downloaded from her site …

  • How to get started
  • Outdoor Hour Challenges
  • Notebook pages (from my NotebookingPages.com purchased cd as well as Barb’s free pages)

and then I made some of my own new Nature Study pages

  • Dividers for the 4 seasons:
  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Autumn (Fall)
  • Winter
  • Tree Study
  • Leaves
  • Nature Study Cover pages for the children’s files

These pages are for my use, but I wanted to share them here for your Nature Study file ~

apologies for uploading these files after publishing 🙂

Blessings,