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CM Series: What Can We Do Once We Read A Book? Part II - New writers.

My Mini-books as completed by an upper elementary learner.
Narrating when children are new to writing.  Yes, it can be done.

Charlotte Mason believed that learning was like the science of making connections.  Connections between what was read, what was experienced, and what was personally extracted from the exposure to a topic through a variety of means - books, nature walks, observations or discussions.  The key word to keep in mind is "was".  Learning comes from a continued exposure over time in a non-threatening and meaningful way.  That is what makes this learning method so unique.  Helping children find meaning in what they do, read and eventually learn and absorb into their soul and mind is a big task - thank goodness we have twelve years to do this.  It takes time to gather enough information to make a connection or "make a leap" as we call it in our little homeschool.

Narration can start at a very young age and usually starts orally with the kiddos telling back the important parts of what was read to them.  As children become older and more skillful in their grasp of reading and writing language, they are asked to begin to do some of the reading on their own and to give some kind of  account of what they read.  Keep in mind that what they tell you back will be what is most meaningful to them.  You can guide them by giving them some prompts or asking them some leading questions, or you can give them complete freedom to extract data on their own.  If you are used to a traditional style of learning or are coming from a school setting, this may require a bit of patience on your part as the guide and instructor.  Many parents will get caught up in what is given or narrated back so much so that they fail to see the connections that their child is already beginning to make.  They begin focusing on these kinds of questions:
  • Is it a full and complete thought or complex sentence? 
  • Does it tell enough of the story? 
  • Is it what the teacher's manual suggests? 
  • Is it long enough? 
  • Is it grammatically accurate all the way through?
This is a lot of pressure for a young child.  Charlotte Mason suggests beginning formal written narration at about age ten.  This is a nice and sound age, but any mom who has homeschooled more than one child at the same time will tell you that younger children generally want to do more learning activities as they see older siblings doing more complex tasks and want to mimic them.  This is why the preschooler wants to "do school" everyday like the older kids.  To combat this transitional problem we created My Books Mini-books.

A sample narration using pictures.
My Book Mini-books allow children to begin narrating things back in a simple way.  Our mini-books give children six pages of space to write perhaps a sentence or two about what they read.  Very young children may only get a picture drawn or two or three words written down, while a bit older learner may write out a sentence of two.  Older children may get a whole paragraph on the page.  The idea is that the mini-book is non-threatening and has limited space.  If a learner has only six pages they must really think about what was really important about what they read.  It forces simple but solid sentences to be composed without wordiness and extras that aren't needed at this point; that will come later.  It makes the whole process of transitioning to written narration non-threatening.

Here is how it works.  We are always adding new books to our collection.  Kids love making these little booklets on their own as it is so easy.  They are even great to use in a classroom setting. We have a few hundred books ready for you to download right now.  Some books are blank and others provide writing prompts.  Simply find the topic you are interested in, fill in, cut apart, order by page numbers and staple where indicated.  You can also allow children to draw in some accompanying illustrations or preschoolers could draw in all of the narrations since writing may be a real deterrent.  For little ones, the adage of the spirit is willing but the writing is weak may tell the whole story.  All learners should be encouraged regardless of their age, if they are showing a distinct interest.

My Book Mini-book affixed on Keepsake Page
Next you may be thinking, "We made the book, now what do I do with it?"  We are so glad you asked.  We have pages specially designed to house our mini-books.  There are a variety of themes of Our Keepsake Pages to meet the personality of just about any child.  Print out the sheet and then affix your books in the proper boxes.  These Keepsake Pages can be bound on the left, put into a duo-tang or a 3-ring binder.  We even have a few covers for your collection, if you want a more polished look.  This is such a neat resource for learners who like to showcase their work or who have to show proof of learning in a more formalized learning program.

A few more notes on using My Book Mini-books:
  • Mini-books are great to add to your F3 folders and projects or lapbooks.
  • Mini-books can reinforce textbook lessons or work done in workbooks.
  • Mini-books are very inexpensive to make.
  • Our collection of mini-books includes prompted as well as blank books on various topics.
  • There are over twelve areas from which to select books.
Click HERE to learn more about our My Book Mini-book resources.

Our next post in this series will cover confident readers and writers from elementary to high school.


That Resource Team

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