Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Narrations: A Second Grade Example

Rather than using a writing program, I am much happier following Charlotte Mason's idea of narrations - oral for the under 10's, gradually progressing to written narrations. Here's an example of a narration by Snowy, dictated by him and typed by me. It was completed over a period of a few days and was a narration of  the 'mammals' section in The Adventure Of Life by Jean-Benoit Durand.


The mammals took over when the dinosaurs died out.

They didn’t die out because they had little heaters in their body that kept them warm and they needed small amounts of food because they were small animals but the dinosaurs needed lots of food.

Mammals are different from other animals because they give birth to their babies and feed them with milk.

Primates are mammals who can can walk on two feet and pick things up with their hands and feet. They have smart brains.

Humans and monkeys shared the same family tree so some people said that humans developed from monkeys but it isn’t true. We do have a common ancestor.

Our direct ancestor is Homo sapiens. Homo sapiens created art and they were the first to use speech. For a while they lived with the Neanderthals but the Neanderthals died out. When they died out, humans  ( the Homo sapiens ) had a clear path to come in. People who lived in the hot places developed darker skin to protect them and people who lived in the cold developed lighter skin.

Animals, including mammals can be endangered by people cutting down forests, people throwing waste into the river and  introducing animals that don’t belong into a habitat ( like angry red eared turtles.)

We edited some of this narration together after Snowy had finished, taking out a lot of 'and then the writer says'. I would also give him words if he forgot them; he needed a reminder of Homo sapiens and ancestor.

As you can see, the information in his narration isn't as comprehensive as it could be. It is, however, a good, clear expression of what he did retain from the reading and now knows. It was great practice in ordering a narrative, following the professional narrative modelled by the author. And most importantly, this 13 sentence 'report' on mammals wasn't a cause of conflict or stress, making it an efficient use of our time. It only required a book and a mother to type; pretty simple and inexpensive. 

Narration: it's easy and it works.


  1. Thank you for sharing this! Simple and to the point and definitely something we can do. I've heard of narrations but I've never seen one in action.


  2. Glad it was of interest. We do narrations in small bits - a page or so at a time ? - and it ends up being reasonably substantial.