School after breakfast: Narrations

The whole idea behind narration is that a child will more fully absorb what they have read or heard read to them if they narrate it, or tell it back.

Children do this quite naturally. For example, when Mark comes home from work, Ella immediately begins giving him a rundown of what's been happening. Isaac will come alongside of him and explain what he's been building or creating. Someone is always filling him in on what we've read during storytime. The retelling of events happens throughout our day.

The way we've done narrations is just an extension of this. Mark is able to join us for lunch each day, and so a couple of times a week I will ask one of the kids to tell daddy about what we read in either our history book or what we read from the Bible. I then furiously type as they tell.

Here are a few examples over the last several months:

So when the angel Gabriel came to Mary they talked to each other for awhile and then he said you’re going to have a baby and then she was happy and then she went to her friends house at Elizabeths and then they talked for awhile and stuff. Then when John growed up he was a baptism and then that’s the end.
{Isaac, age 5}

The following two entries show Isaac, then Ella, narrating the same passage:

So there was this king who was in Judah and he did mean things and he set up idols and people worshipped them and stuff and the Assyrian army came and captured him and then they went back and then when he was in prison he prayed to the Lord and then the Lord got him out and then he came back to people but they were still worshipping idols and he tore the idols down! And it was just an amazing story. {Isaac, age 5}

There was a man named Hezekiah and when he died he had a son named Manasseh and Manasseh became king when he was 12 years old and Manasseh was a very very evil king and he worshipped idols and made idols and he worshipped the idols in God’s palace that Solomon built. Then one day when he was doing these evil evil things and making people worship idols, the Assyrian army attacked him and took him away. When he was in the jail and being treated by brutal treating, he prayed to God and God made him free and he went back and God even let him sit on I think Solomon's throne and he shouted “Break all the idols!” and he tore down all the idols and he told people to worship the only God and instead of just saying “I would really really like it if you obeyed my God, instead he said: You can ONLY obey the one God.” And so they did. But some of the people still didn’t do that. And it was a very amazing story because it showed about God’s forgiveness. And he started to obey in his father Hezekiah’s ways. And that’s the end. {Ella, age 7}

And here's one of Isaias' narrations, at age 4:

Um, so... they helped Jesus on the boat and they started sailing on the water and pretty soon a big storm came and they were frightened and then they woke up and Jesus said “Master” and then pretty soon he said peace, and let the waves be still and they were still. And then they said to each other, how could the waves obey this man? And then pretty soon they kept sailing.

My only rule with narrations is that I don't interrupt a child to correct him/her. Even if Ella interrupts her own narration to say, "Mommy, I don't remember his name. Can you tell me his name?" I ask her to tell what she DOES remember, and continue with her narration. When a child is done speaking, I generally point out their errors~ (or sometimes I don't have to: one of the other kids will usually do it for me!) Sometimes I will mention, "Oh, I'm surprised you didn't tell about this part", and offer a few details of something they missed. Other than that, they are free to sift and sort the information they heard and retell it as they remember it.

This is an area I'd really like to see us grow in. Ideally, I'd like to have these 'formal' narrations occur daily around here, but in this season this is what we're able to do, and I'm fine with that.

Next year I will have Ella begin writing narrations. She does this now by way of a book report for each book she reads, but we haven't done it for our school subjects yet.

I think this officially ends the school series! I'll post Ella's 2009 book list soon and may briefly talk about Isaias' Super Star Speech at some point, but that's it for the official subjects/areas we cover. Thank you for putting up with this long and rambling series on what we do for school. :) It's been fun for me to write!


  1. Thank YOU for the long and rambling series! We hardly had to put up with it. ;) It's encouraging to see what other people are doing in school, and helps me identify areas we can improve on. Thanks!

  2. I agree with Jodi- thank you, Stacy! I love reading about your family is doing.

    I enjoyed this series, particularly the Book About Me that Isaac (I think) made and your book list!

    Won't it be fun to look back on these posts when you revisit this same stage with your Littles?

  3. This series has been terrific!

    How nice for you to have it all down to remember.
    How smart to be writing it to reflect.
    And how great it is for us to read what your doing and be inspired.
    Thanks friend!

  4. I've really enjoyed this series and am quite sorry it has come to an end (no possible extensions?!) but in any case thanks for all the ideas, we have already started putting a couple into practice!

  5. I have really enjoyed reading through your ideas!! Thanks so much for your suggestions/inspirations!! Also, I loved the book list! Can't wait to see what Ella has read (my oldest is 6 and we are always looking for new good books!)


  6. I've said it before and I'll say it again.
    You're the best, funnest teacher ever, ever, and I am so thankful that you devote so much time and energy into teaching our kids. Thank you!!!



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