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CM Series: What Can We Do Once We Read A Book? - Part I.

Part I. - Narration for Confident Readers and Writers

I was recently asked a very simple question that all of us CMers (Charlotte Mason style learners) have heard posed at meetings, co-ops and playdates:  "What do you actually do once you read a book?"  I too asked this question about six years ago when we first discovered the Charlotte Mason learning style and theory.  The whole "narration" idea can be very challenging for some families who may face a myriad of challenges such as a having reluctant reader or writer, raising children with ADD or other learning challenges, having multiple children at different reading levels or perhaps even facing the old dilemma of skepticism about the efficacy of the CM theory itself.

I thought that I would address what you could actually do to show proof of incremental learning from the slow digestion of a written work.  For the next few posts I will highlight different CM inspired resources from our resource collections to answer this question.  I try to remind myself  that everyday someone new begins to homeschool and has questions and fears about doing so.  Without fail, if I forget someone will always contact me and that reminds me of the purpose of our online ministry - to help and support those who want to happily homeschool their children with the Lord at the centre.  So let's begin with a very simple and traditional method of narration for learners who already possess solid skills of reading and writing.

We try to provide a host of different activities and resources which meet and meld reading and recalling in a fun and creative way.  One of the first ways that has been traditionally used for older learners capable of reading and writing independently is recalling written works by individual chapters.  To meet this need we created our Big Books for Narration this past year.  These books give a space to narrate with words as well as a space for children to be creative and narrate with drawings as well.  If you have a younger learner who is advanced in their learning skills, they may find this a fun and great tool too.  This is why you may find titles available from a variety of levels because this tool can appeal to younger readers and writers as well as older ones.

Some ask why drawing should be incorporated if it is supposed that we are focusing on narrating or telling back the details of the work.  We should never forget that images and art are also a great way to narrate about the plot, setting and characters.  Don't believe me?  Why not try out our art game designed to teach about the Seven Sacraments using the art work of Rogier Van der Weyden.  The artwork and details contained in the three panels tell about the time period, the administration of the Sacraments through the ages, the church through the ages, the sorrow of the Crucifixion and so much more.  It is such a rich lesson to have with your children or CCD class.  I have used it quite successfully in my own CCD classes.  Try it.  You'll either surprise yourself with how much you know about the sacraments or realize that bit more time for reading of the Catechism should probably be scheduled into your daily routine.

Big books are fun to make, easy to use and very affordable.  Sheets can be printed out for the entire work at once or chapter by chapter as needed.  Readers simply fill in the chapters with details from their reading.  They can then draw an representative picture of the plot, characters or setting.  We usually try to include a page or two of extra elements for additional thought including copywork, additional questions or clues to look for in the work, notes or even additional ideas they may have.  Finished sheets are folded in half, stacked  and bound on the left hand side using any number styles including:  brads, closure rings, comb bind spines, hand sewing, using a mini 3-ring binder, a duo-tang cut in half, twist ties, twine, beautiful ribbon . . . anything you can think of, really. They make great proofs of learning for formal learning needs as well as neat keepsakes for warm and fuzzy sharing with others like older siblings or grandparents.

Samples of binding techniques - (left) comb bind spine, (top) mini 3-ring binder, (right) closure rings.
We are always expanding our titles as we finish them in our own little homeschool, so we look forward to sharing more works with you as they become web-ready. 

Click HERE to see our current collection of Big Books for Narration.

In our next post I will chat about narration activities for new or less confident writers. 


Kalei - That Resource Team

Are you a new to or interested in the Charlotte Mason Method?  Looking for good books that teach about Charlotte Mason and her teaching methods?  Here are my four personal favourite CM resources from my own library.  I have returned to these works time and again over the years.

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