Charlotte Mason Narration Help

Narration: lessons to impove the ability to tell stories in order and/or remember key points

What is Narration?

The art of retelling. Anything can be retold – poems, verses, fables, stories, ideas from textbooks, recipes, directions…

Why Narration?

Oh, so many reasons!

  • Builds short term memory and working memory.
  • Builds auditory memory.
  • Develops the skills of attention and observation of details.
  • Builds comprehension.
  • Builds vocabulary.
  • Develops the pre-writing skills of sentence construction and story order.
  • Develops speaking skills.

Is Narration Hard?

For the beginning narrator, narrating well can take time. It’s okay. Just like with any new skill, a step-by-step process can build understanding and confidence.

In this post, I’d like to show you some simple lessons I’ve used with Eli, my seven-year-old. He’s been doing short narrations for quite some time, but as we’ve transitioned into larger selections, he’s struggled a bit with story order. Here are some easy ideas for narration help. They specifically teach the skill of story order.

First, Next, Then, Last

First, next, then, last cards to help with dictation and understanding story order

Day One:

  • Introduce the terms of first, next, then and last on notecards.
  • Orally, go through some of your child’s typical activities using the words explicitly.

“First, you get up in the morning. Next, you make your bed. Then, you brush your teeth. Last, you come down to breakfast.”

“First, you get out the dog food. Next, you dig out a full scoop. Then, you fill the dog bowl with the scoop of food. Last, you put away the scoop and the dog food.”

  • Ask your child to work through these words orally as he tells you something very simple he does every day.
  • Place the words on a white board and ask your child to draw pictures of each step he just told you.
  • If he’s able, allow him to write a little sentence for each step. If not, you write small sentences for him.
  • Then, YOU narrate his story back to him. Point to the word cards as you do.

First, then, next, last story with illustration to help with understanding story order

Day Two:

  • Using the white board, allow him to draw a simple illustration of something he enjoys doing.
  • Place the first, next, then, last cards beside the white board and remind him about how you practiced telling stories in order yesterday.
  • Ask him to come up with a short sentence (or more) to fit each word that describes the activity he illustrated.
  • Explain that narration is very much like this. He just has to think of what happened first, next, then and last and retell the story with as much detail as possible.
  • Read a simple Aesop’s Fable to him.
  • Ask him to narrate the fable, reminding him of the words first, next, then or last if he gets stuck.

First, next, then, last manipulative story

This brilliant idea came from First Grade WOW.

Day Three:

Since our lessons took place in winter, this melting snowman made a great hands-on component to teaching first, next, then and last.

  • Have your child tell the story of a melting snowman.
  • Allow him to manipulate paper pieces to tell the story a second time. As he narrate, you write his story out for him.
  • Read the story aloud to him as he manipulates the pieces again. What you’re trying to help him “see” is whether or not he told the story in correct order. If so, the story will work out as he completes the actions with the paper pieces. If he hasn’t told it in order, he’s sure to notice when the paper pieces don’t make sense.
  • Ask him to glue the “last” illustration to a colorful piece of paper.

Day Four:

  • With the “last” paper from yesterday in front of him, ask him to narrate the story again.
  • Yesterday, you wrote his story down. Allow him to use your copy to rewrite the story himself. This is also known as copywork.

After four days of specific practice in narrating story order, I bet you’ll be amazed at your child’s growth in narration!

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