Narrations 101 Jot & Draw

Narrations are an important principle in a Charlotte Mason education.

I have found that a young child naturally “retells” a good story.

Even a 4-year-old narrates with detail and passion!

All you need to do is find ways of capturing their thoughts.

Here are some practical ways you can collect your child’s narrations ~

Use a blank jotter or notebook ~


  • Buy the cheapest newsprint jotter books and cover it with the child’s own art.
  • Paste everything they draw, scribble and copy into this jotter.
  • You may fill several in a year!
  • Write out the story in pencil as they narrate and let them copy over your writing.
  • Draw the title really big and bold and let the child draw a picture under it.

Create a narration notebook for the story/ subject ~

  • Use blank or colored pages.
  • Tea-stain paper and crumple the paper to make it look “old”.
  • Tear or burn the edges for an aged effect.
  • Join a few pages length-wise and roll it up to become a scroll.
  • Re-purpose old telephone books or pages and paint over the printing
  • Staple the pages together at the top/ side with a cardboard cover.
  • Be creative and make a booklet with stick and rubber band – see how to at Susan’s Making
  • Punch holes and put into a binder/ file.

Draw a picture of the story ~

  • Ask your child to draw while you read aloud.
  • Let them copy the book’s illustrations.  This is a good way of teaching the child to draw.  Some children’s books are so beautifully illustrated that they inspire a child!
  • Add the story title & a date.
  • Write their narration around/under/ next to the picture as they dictate.  Simple narration!
  • Make a collage. Add details found in magazines to a picture.
  • Find clip art or Google pictures or images on the computer and let your child add this to their narration page
  • Make a comic strip – divide the page into 4-6 blocks.  Number the blocks.  This is good practice to sequence the story.

comic strip page

  • Add educational value to the drawing – (if they will allow)
    • punch holes around the edges and let them practise threading/ sewing around the page with wool
    • draw vertical and horizontal squiggly lines through the picture and let them cut on the lines
    • now let the child make their “puzzle” picture up again and paste it in the jotter
    • cut out the main characters and let the child glue them on a colored or painted background.

Read my original post on this topic ~ Mom ~ The Narration Scribe.

Join me in Narration 102 where I share how to type and print your child’s narrations as a booklet.

How do you encourage your young children to record their narrations? Feel free to share in the comments.


Narration ~ A Natural Art

What happens when a young child runs in and tells you about something exciting they have seen, heard or done?

… Narrations!

Charlotte Mason found that telling back is a fundamental skill in expressing what a child knows.

Here are the 2 skills – knows and tells.  It is so simple.  But I’m no expert and we are still refining these skills.  For new homeschool moms and those with young children, may I share more?

How should we teach so they know?

Miss Mason suggests that we use living books, read to our children with clear, expressive voice, and tell our children that after we have read to them once only, they will tell us what they have heard.

How can this go wrong? first thing most moms do is tell the child to listen, prompt them, discipline them, even nag them to focus and listen.  Then they add sympathy and repeat what their children missed while they chased the cat under the table.  And worse still, they correct them, add their thoughts and words and prompt them while they narrate.  … I have been guilty of all these … any of you?

Let’s start at the beginning:

Charlotte Mason said, “Our concern is to afford matter of sufficiently literary character, together with the certainty that no second or third opportunity for knowing a given lesson will be allowed.” (Vol. 6 pg. 171-172)

Use really engaging living books with rich vocabulary, great characters and wonderful thoughts and dialogue.  Young children need stories with pictures!  If the book or content is not suitable, I suggest you find another book.  In my early homeschooling days, I followed the curriculum and squeezed my children to fit it.  Now I prayerfully turn to other resources and lay aside the book that dragged us down.

Allow you children to listen without distraction, yet keep busy hands.  Colouring in pictures on the topic, or cutting and folding a minibook for the notebook page all are helpful activities that reinforce the content.  Play dough and felt-board pieces, knitting or embroidery are quiet too.  I found that, although my children love to play Lego while I read aloud, moving the pieces make a dreadful racket!

Charlotte Mason said that, “complete and entire attention is a natural function which requires no effort and causes no fatigue … the concentration at which most teacher aim is an innate provision for education and is not the result of training or effort.” (Vol. 6 pg. 171-172)

Children often live up to our expectations.  Tell them what you expect.  Simply state that you will only read the chapter once and after that they will narrate to you.  Then calmly read. They must give all their effort at attention.  Charlotte Mason tells parents not to get in the way.  We do not need to explain anything unless the child asks, “What does … mean?”  It takes courage to allow the child to miss what he does not know for the present and express only what he does understand. (Note to self – do not explain!)

When you are finished, let your child start his narration.  Often my youngest starts so that “she doesn’t forget her thoughts” while she waits as the others tell back.  If the content is complicated, I ask the older children to tell back first so that in hearing their narrations, the younger child gets a quick “recap”.

A young child can draw their narration.  I write out their oral narration under their picture.  For longer narrations I type their oral narration on the computer, print it out and they can illustrate the page. training a young child to write their own narrations, I start by writing their dictated narration in pencil and then they copy over my writing.  Then, as they become less frustrated with the physical act of writing (which is really a chore),  I write their dictated narration on a white board and they copy this written narration on their notebook page., by about 10 years, the child writes their own narrations.  At first, I encourage them just to get their thoughts on the page.  I ask them to read back their narration to me so that I can hear their words and don’t misinterpret any ‘strange’ spelling. My youngest child is at this stage now.  If I pick out spelling and grammar mistakes, I will quench her joy of writing!

Gradually I encourage basic grammar like starting sentences with capital letters and ending with a full stop.  I remind my children to keep their sentences short.  If they fall into the habit of starting with “Then ….  And then …” I may remind them to read through their own narrations and cross out the unnecessary words. Often I ask them what they think they need to change if they are unhappy with their narration.


I offer specific encouragement by telling them,”You gave lots of wonderful details,” or “What a good opening sentence/ conclusion,” or I really liked these descriptive words,” or “Boy, you really summed that up well!”

My middle schooler has entered into independent narration writing and puts her head down and writes till she has captured all her thoughts.  She quickly fills a notebook page.  She has gradually added more vivid vocabulary and details as she gained confidence.  She loves notebook pages.  If the history chapter I read aloud has several sub-sections, she requests time to write her narration before I continue to the next section. my high school daughter writes all her own notes from the texts she reads on her own. She organizes all her own material, researches and creates rich and detailed assignments.  Her computer skills and typing are vital to the content and presentation of her assignments.

Narrations allow a child of any age to take hold and make their own whatever knowledge they engage with.  Keep at it and raise the standard as your children grow up.  Narrations really work!

This post was written for the upcoming Charlotte Mason Carnival.  Why not join in and submit your own post?


Mom ~ The Narration Scribe

Recently I posted our geography minibooks and notebook pages and wrote a brief description on how I act as a scribe for my youngest child’s narration.

Reader's Question logoOne reader, on writing out her son’s narration, asked,

“How do you address grammatical or other errors? (For example, my son loves to use “And then” at the beginning of every sentence or he’s used verb tense incorrectly.)”

Narrations are not grammar lessons.  I use copywork for grammar, spelling and language studies.  We analyze extracts from current readers or quotes from famous people.  This is not threatening to the child.  We are not picking out their mistakes, but we point out all grammar rules, punctuation, vocabulary in context.  Children enjoy pulling apart someone’s writing!

It is amazing to see how much they learn from copywork and grammar studies.  My 8-year-old noticed every compound word in her reader after we studied compound words in our language arts.  My 10-year-old used new words in her creative writing after we did some vocabulary studies in her weekly copywork.

Let me describe the narration process in a bit more detail:

Narration is the art of “telling back” It will start orally. They tell and you listen.

  • The young child will retell you the story or details of the story in their own words.
  • They must listen carefully and remember sequence (what happened first, second and so on.)
  • They should include as many original words as possible; give vivid and exact details.
  • The listeners should be active and positive ~ smile, nod, pay attention as the narration unfolds.
  • Some moms tape or video record their child’s narrations. (This may produce performance stress for some children, but other children thrive on hearing their narrations!)
  • The aim of the narration is to hear (and eventually read) how well the child listened to and understood the story.
  • I find that if my children know that they must tell or write their narrations after the reading, they pay extra attention.

To start the written process, the parent acts as the scribe. Mom will write out or type exactly what the child narrates on the computer:

  • without interruptions
  • without corrections
  • with as few hints and suggestions as possible
  • Include all the “And then …” sentence starters.
  • Some moms even write the “Um … Err …” !  When mom reads these sounds back, the children often find it amusing!  But they become more aware of repeating unnecessary words.
  • If a child is really stuck, use a narration starter like,  “Who is this story about?” or “How did this story begin?”
  • When they have completed the narration, read it back to the child.  Let them suggest any changes.
  • If they suggest that sentences should not all start with “And then” and ask them how they could change it.

At about 10 years the child should write their own narrations.

Writing is a very complex process.  The physical act of writing is stressful and exhausting.  They must learn letter formation, spacing and style.  Written work requires an extensive spelling and vocabulary.  Grammar rules are difficult to apply when all the other skills are applied.

These are  the basic steps we take when my child starts to write their own narrations:

  • First they dictate their narration while I write it on the whiteboard. (It is easy for us to rub out any changes.)
  • Use Word Banks
  • I write out exactly what they say,  all their own words, word order and ideas.
  • I resist the temptation to suggest, hint, add, change anything! Seriously, this is the hardest part!
  • I read back what they dictated.
  • If they are happy with it, they copy the sentences in their notebooks.
  • If they get tired while copying, I offer to help them, or suggest they complete it later.  This is weaning process.
  • Eventually they should cope writing several sentences and then paragraphs.
  • It may take a year to learn all the skills to write narrations on their own!
  • They will write narrations on their own with some help; asking for spelling help or checking facts.
  • I accept all narrations without undue concern for punctuation, capitalization or spelling.

How do parents help when guiding their child in writing?

Janice Campbell asks in her article Are you helpful or nitpicking?

  • A negative, impatient, or critical tone can make even the most minor critique seem overwhelming to a sensitive child.
  • Be sensitive to each student’s abilities and don’t overwhelm a struggling student with too much negative feedback at once. Focus on the most important thing for the moment. There will be other days to fix other things.
  • If you and your student have difficulty communicating on a subject, it may be a good idea to enlist someone else to help the student in that subject. Preserving the relationship is more important than doing everything yourself.
Narrations capture and make the child’s own the best of the rich literature we read to our children.  Let narrations be short, accurate, detailed, joyful, and  original.

Narrations can take on several forms.  Here are just some ideas …


  • Describe what will happen next and why
  • Describe your favourite scene
  • “If I were the main character I would … “
  • Tell this story in modern times (if the story is about ancient times)
  • Describe the moral of this story
  • What are the golden rules learnt in this story?
  • “If I could travel to this place, these are the things I would love to see/ do … “


  • write a dialogue
  • write a comic strip
  • write a letter
  • make a newspaper report
  • create an act of a play
  • write a journal entry
  • create the narration as a story for a young sibling
  • write in a minibook
  • create a poem
  • write it as a song
  • write an obituary


  • Draw a map of the places in the story
  • Draw the story as a comic strip
  • Make a bird’s-eye view of the events
  • Draw any machine/ vehicle/ mechanical details in the story
  • Draw step-by-step instructions on how to do what was made in the story
  • Create a mural of the story


  • Act out the scene
  • Pretend you are the character interviewed on TV/ radio
  • Describe how you would adapt the story for drama


  • Make a model of the scene
  • Create a diorama (the scene inside a box)
  • Make a mobile
  • Create the machines
  • Use Lego to build the scene
  • Use clay to create the scene


  • Make a lapbook of the story
  • Fabric paint the story on a T-shirt/ table mats
  • Make a Power Point show on the story
  • Video record and play the story
  • Make a puppet show of the characters and events
  • Make finger puppets for a simple puppet show

Give your children many options and different methods to narrate.

This way they will discover their learning styles and strengths.

Blessings, Nadene

Treasure hunt and Letterboxing!

Letterboxing is an intriguing mix of treasure hunting, art, navigation, and exploring interesting, scenic, and sometimes remote places.

It is a recognized international activity where participants use clues which describe directions and landmarks to find a hidden treasure box. (Read more here.) Once the box is found, the participants imprint their own personal rubber stamp in the log book, write in the date with their “trail name” and then use the stamp in the box to stamp a record their “find” in their own personal log book.

We have enjoyed making our own treasure maps for Geography!  Now it was time to try Letterboxing here at home.

To help the children create their Letterbox Clues using very detailed instructions to find the “letterbox”, I created Treasure Hunt clue words which has lists of sentence starters, order words, a few verbs and lists of prepositions.  The 2nd page has sentence starters with colour-coded blanks to insert the right words for their clues.  Using this, the girls quickly wrote down their clues.

This written activity covers several concepts:

  • directions
  • compass work (not used in this lesson)
  • order words

Language skills such as:

  • adverbs for time
  • prepositions
  • verbs or action words
  • objects

To reinforce prepositions, we played some bean bag games.  They took turns using the preposition list to call out some bean bag position. What fun!  [And sneaky ~ they were practicing auditory processes (listening and following oral instructions), directionality (up/down/left/right), spatial awareness (in front, under), body awareness (good for young children – left foot, elbow, ear lobe!)]

Playing preposition games with bean bags

Next, we made our rubber stamps.  Letterboxing Kids gives an easy method of cutting rubber stamps, but I let the girls draw the image on their rubbers and I cut them for them with a super-sharp craft knife.  (The same site has a unique and easy way of making foam stamps!)

Making a rubber stamp

Foam stamps glued back-to-front on a sponge

We needed a Letterbox Log Book for each child and one for the treasure box, and I created these using a “hot dog” mini book template.

“Hot dog” book folded on all lines and cut in middle

“Hot dog” minibook folded lengthways and pressed to form diamond. Squeeze together and fold pages so front cover is in front.

Treasure box with log book, pencil, stamp pad and rubber stamp

Now the girls played Letterboxing!  They crawled under and over things, turned left and right, counted paces, moved forwards or backwards until they found the treasure box.  They made their stamps in the log books and loved every minute of this lesson!

Treasure log book’s entries

Isn’t homeschool fun?

Freebieoftheday! Famous Impressionist Artists

This year I have decided to focus on Famous Impressionist Artists and created a Famous Impressionist Lapbook with minibooks, biography pages and a wall chart!  I’d love to share this with you.  Here is a complete package for your Famous Impressionist Artist study.

Please sign up for an email notification or put my RSS feed on your homepage! You’ll find this on my sidebar halfway down.  There are lots more on coming up in the next few months!

Famous Impressionist Lapbook ~ Famous Impressionist Artist Lapbook (Downlaod)

A lapbook or notebook & minibook combination, this versatile 18 page pdf. package includes thumbnails of masterpieces, suggested activities, blank minibook templates and an organized lapbook planner for any option using these minibooks. This download will offer enough material for a dedicated study of each artist and their works.


These minibooks are blank with  thumbnail pictures of famous masterpieces for each minibook.  This allows the child to make their lapbook and minibooks unique!

More Impressionist Minibooks and activity pages

Artists featured are:

Edgar Degas, Vincent Van Gogh, Georges Seurat, Paul Cezanne, Claude Monet, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Gauguin, Mary Cassatt, Paul Signac, Alfred Sisley, Camille Pissarro, Berthe Morisot

And that’s not all … to go with the minibooks …

Famous Impressionist Biography Pages ~


Blank Biography Famous Impressionist Artists ~ Our 13 featured artists on blank page. Ideal for minibook combo!

Primary Biography Famous Impressionist Artists ~ The 13 artists with red & blue & dotted grey lines in wider spaces for beginner writers

Black line Biography Famous Impressionist Artists ~ As above with neat black and dotted grey lines for more mature writers.

Display a A4 wall chart ~ Famous Impressionist Wall Chart 2016 (download)
Features one artist a month and a suggested study of his/her works.

I have selected my favourites of their works and have made a mini-gallery for each artist.

Included in the package is a brief biography of each artist  in the 16 page pdf. download.

This A4 page could also be added to a minioffice!

For some more tips, ideas and suggestions on this wall chart download click ~ here

Click my Free Pages and check out my other free pages!

Thank you to Homeschool Freebie of the day who featured my free pages.

Please sign up for an email notification or put my RSS feed on your homepage!  There are lots more on the burner ….

Thanks for visiting ~ come again soon!


Creative Writing ~ Dancing Pencils!

My 2 older daughters and I took a creative writing workshop (also known as Free Writing Using the Right Brain ) this weekend and it was the most mind-blowing, exhilarating and thrilling experience!

Created by Felicity Keats and presented at workshops around South Africa and the world,  her Free Writing Using the Right Brain Course has enabled writing students (from pre-primary to adults) to write with the most wonderful creativity!

Felicity Keats, in her 70’s and just bubbling with enthusiasm, has written many books. The Dancing Pencils Program includes  2 CD’s covering the course material. She has trained mentors to  workshop her methods.  Felicity loves to encourage new writers and she has published many of her students’  books  ~ what a triumph for these new authors!

Free writing using right brain R-grade 4

Writing from the right brain is creative and spontaneous, the results delight the writer and the reader alike!

Felicity Keats says,

“The right brain is the intuitive hemisphere.  It is dominant for the following tasks:

Non-Verbal : images, not words, are the source of right brain knowledge.

Holistic (non linear). It processes lots of information at the same time, makes leaps of insight and can evaluate whole problems at once.

Spatial  – it works out jigsaw puzzles and finds the way home without getting lost

Musical – it responds to music and musical talent

Metaphoric – it understands metaphors and images

Artistic – drawing, painting and sculpture

Spiritual – prayer, workshop and mysticism.

Dream maker –realising fantasies

The right brain is a happy positive side of yourself that doesn’t understand the word “failure”. It doesn’t try, it just does, easily bringing out the required writing from the universe itself.”

(Extract from : Creative Writing using the Right BrainStimulating Ideas to Develop Creativity in Learners   Grades 10 – 12 by Felicity Keats ISBN 978-1-43090056-6)

Primary Lines for Handwriting

With young writers, we always need primary lined paper … and we never seem to have enough at hand!

I’ve made a simple page with red, blue and a dotted grey lines,  spaced for a size 30 font (really nice and large).

Why don’t you go ahead and download it here ~ Primary lines red&blue and print out about 20 and keep them in your file.

Now, you can make your own!  Just follow the step-by-step instructions I found at My Homeschool Treasure Trove

or on Making Your Own Notebooking Pages at  Jimmie’s Squidoo lens. Give it a try! 🙂

Download Handwriting Fonts onto your computer

In a previous post on laminating your own handwriting chart I wrote about downloading handwriting fonts on to your computer.

Here are detailed  step-by-step instructions!  I found these font website sites very useful: publishing~ good school print and italic (Jarman) fonts. ~ scroll to Cursif (1 with and 1 without lines) and select the font file you like. This site has a fabulous choice of other beautiful fonts!

  1. Download the font file. (I choose the  True Type version for Windows.)
  2. Save the file on your computer
  3. Now, because these are zipped files (compressed to store loads of info) you’ll need to extract files (select this on the left side panel)
  4. An Extract File Wizard will open the individual files. One file will have a coloured icon with a “T” or a “O”.  Right-click this file and press copy.
  5. Click on your Start button and select Control Panel
  6. Double-Click on Fonts icon
  7. In the space between the font icons right-click and press Paste
  8. Your downloaded font file will now appear in your MS Word and other Word programs.
  9. Open your Word document and select your font in this program and increase the size to suit your child’s ability and maturity or for the page you are typing.

I hope this helps!  I have made all my copywork pages using downloaded fonts!



Lapbook -Junior Mini Office

Mini Offices are an ideal method of keeping all the charts, facts and lists at hand in a lapbook folder.

I have just made a  junior primary mini office (with Afrikaans* for South African students) The mini office is especially handy for homeschool because all those posters and charts that we should hang up for junior students are now in their own hands and they can find the information without looking up at the walls!

For the complete A5 mini office click here ~mini office A5 all

For those who want the mini office in large A4 click here ~mini office A4 junior all

Included in this 8 A4 page ( 2 pages on each A4 page = 16 pages) download are:

  1. Number line, number chart 1-120, number & words
  2. Order words & fractions
  3. numbers on hands, scores and shapes
  4. Directions, Numbers 1-20 *, Roman numerals
  5. Multiplication table 1-12
  6. Seasons*, Months of the year*
  7. Days of the week*, Telling time*
  8. Where I live
  9. Map of South Africa
  10. Weather chart*
  11. South African Money
  12. Sight Word Wall
  13. Sight Word Wall
  14. Family words*
  15. Handwriting Print & Cursive

For just the Math section of this mini office click here ~mini office A5 mathcs

For the South African section only click here ~mini office A5 SA Eng&Afrik

For the Word Wall and Handwriting  section click here ~mini office A5 wordwall-writing-live

You can research more on mini offices at these sites: Mini Office Squidoo

I have made this mini office on a lapbook folder cut in half across the width and it looks like this:


Laminated Handwriting Chart ~ but use your own font style!

So ~ I’ve shared my handwriting charts, but you prefer your own handwriting styles ~it’s easy to use the laminated method!

Just photocopy an A4 chart from your handwriting workbook and underline the letters, dash the middle line and laminate your chart ~ and viola!  your style font, but a wonderful, easy, fun method of teaching handwriting!

  • You can create a lower case page, upper case page and a combined Aa, Bb, Cc page!
  • Draw a red dot where a letter starts.
  • Draw  arrows to show direction of writing.
  • Draw a man in the margin; with his head touching the top line, his body touching the base line and his feet touching the bottom line

Another great tip ~ copy the font you use on your computer (Windows) in the following easy steps:

  1. Click Start, click Control Panel
  2. Double click on Fonts
  3. Right click in the spaces between font folders and right-click paste your font file you’ve copied. Close control panel.
  4. Now this font will appear in your font options in all your MS Word / Publisher and even email programs!
  5. Open MS Word and click on the fonts option, select the font you’ve just loaded
  6. Change the font size to between 28 – 48 and type away!