First narrations of the new year.  Every good Charlotte Mason homeschooler knows that narrations are key.

How do my children feel, though?  Lily doesn’t mind a bit.  In fact, when she was four and first started “doing” narrations (not because I made her but because she wanted to do school with Gabe) she thought a narration was adding onto the story.  We would read and then she would tell me back some of the things she remembered but mainly she would embellish and add to whatever the story had been. She had quite the imagination and this used to drive Gabe crazy!

But Gabe…well, Gabe hates (and I mean hate with a capital H, A, T, E) narrations.  When I first read about using this wonderful tool I was smitten.  I wanted my children to be as excited as I was.  And then Gabe quickly burst my bubble.  He would just sit there staring at me blankly.  His eyes would glaze over.  He seemed to remember nothing.  And then it turned into him not even wanting to hear the word story for fear he would have to narrate back.  I spent a year in complete frustration wondering if somehow I was messing up this simple tool of having a child retell back what they learned.  Did he really learn nothing??? But I see him reading ALL the time.  Does he not remember any of it?

I read and reread everything on narrations I could…the Charlotte Mason style and modern twists that other homeschoolers came up with.  Nothing seemed to work.  I was ready to chuck my style in the trash and figure out something else for history.  I just told myself I would at least finish out the year and see where we were.  Now I am SO glad I persevered!!!

The next year I noticed something…and, NO, it was not that Gabe embraced narrations and finally got why we did them. What I did notice was how much better his narrations were…how much more detailed…how he started reading them over my shoulder…how he started correcting me on little things and wanting to participate in the spelling, grammar, and punctuation.  It was turning into a natural grammar lesson…a natural composition.  My heart soared.  We did it!  We made it!  So this is what Ms. Mason was talking about!

So at the end of our first week back to school, as Gabe was whining – again – about how he just knew he couldn’t narrate for me, I was patient.  I reasoned, cajoled, and persevered until it came out of him.  And I am so glad I did.  I couldn’t be prouder!  Here’s to you, Ms. Mason!

An example of a "living book".

Gabe Payson – Age 8 – Third Grade – January 8, 2010

Betsy Ross: Designer of Our Flag by Ann Well

Chapter One – The story is about Betsy Ross and her mother and father and her friends.  George had said throughout the book that Betsy was a girl and she couldn’t make anything ever.  Betsy was trying to make doll furniture and the wooden part of the saw fell on her head and it landed on the floor and it crashed down and it made a sound like “gggrrrr”.  When it made that sound it made her think of George and how he always said that she was a girl and couldn’t make anything.  And then when she was trying to use it she accidentally cut herself when she was trying to saw though the wood.  She ran up quickly to her mother and her mother gave her a bandage and the bandage was not like ours today.  It was a thin piece of cloth and she wrapped it around her wound.

Chapter Three – It was Betsy’s first day of school and the store person said to stop by after school and I’ll give you a peppermint stick on your first day of school.  And Betsy agreed that it was a good idea.  And so they walked out to the school (her and her sisters) and Betsy felt like she was walking in the air but really her sisters were holding her up and she was making walking movements.  They were doing it so they would not be late for school.  Betsy had ran home to give the candy cane to her brother before school because she knew he had been sad inside and left alone.

Chapter Two – When it was baking day Betsy helped her mother bake bread and they had made it out of sourdough and yeast and they had used it in their family for generation after generation.  On baking day they couldn’t find the sourdough after Betsy had rolled the dough into a ball.  They thought George might have took it but really it was stuck to the bottom of the baking trough.

It made Betsy feel really sad that they’d never get to use it again and her mom said they could use Mrs. Adam’s.  She didn’t want to use it because she thought the bread wouldn’t be the same and her mom said the bread would taste just as good but Betsy didn’t  believe her.

Lily Payson – Age 6 – First Grade – January 8, 2010

Betsy Ross: Designer of Our Flag by Ann Well

Chapter Three Betsy had a candy cane and she gave the candy cane to her little brother, George because he was feeling sad because he couldn’t go to school.  She thought she was running in the air but really her sisters were holding her up in the air because they were late to go to school.

Chapter Two – Betsy was baking with her mother with the dough and they lost their sourdough.  It got squished on the pad.  It made Betsy sad.

Chapter One – George said Betsy was too little to make a new table and she cut herself on a knife.  She was trying to build a dollhouse.  She put on a band-aid.  The thing that cut her hand sounded like “gggrrrllll”.  When George said to go out and play outside Betsy said, “No, I’m gonna build a dollhouse!”  And her dad said they needed to make a new table because they had new sisters coming.  So they had to make it bigger because their table wasn’t big enough.

(I know Lil’s is out of order…this is how she narrated back to me and I always try to be true to what they actually said and the order they actually remembered.)

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