Monday, October 14, 2013

Preschool Narration Ideas


I've been a bit MIA lately. Blogging, I've discovered, is like a snowball. In the beginning, you have all this momentum because you're excited about whatever it is that you want to say. Then you build even more as things go along. You get your first comment and it makes you hungry for more. So you write another post and another and check things obsessively to see if anyone's left you another comment. It's kind of amazing that people read your stuff and even more amazing that some of you liked it enough to say something about it. Everyone loves a little validation. 

And reach a plateau. Things stop building as quickly. You lose some of that initial excitement. Before you know it, you're only publishing two posts a week, and then only one. And then...none. It's like a snowball going in reverse. Then you don't even want to check the stats at all because you know you've only had 12 page views. And you also know that you didn't do the work to earn more. Ah, who cares? Anyone want to play a game of Scrabble?

So, anyway, this is my shame-faced apology. I am sorry that I've been so MIA. I do have a couple of reasonable excuses, besides the reverse-snowball effect.

1. I've been working really hard with Daniel. We started his school year last month, and things have been going along pretty well. So well, in fact, that I'm exhausted. Most afternoons during nap time, I just want to take a nap right along with the kids. And if I don't do that, then I try to use that time to clean the house. It's a little difficult, I've discovered, to juggle homeschool, daily chores, and blogging. How do you masters do it all?? I'm sort of at a loss.

2. I'm in the process of rethinking the blog a little bit. Up to this point, the ol' blog has been a little bit of a smorgasbord. A little of this, a little of that, and a personal story to spice things up. To be honest, I'm not really sure what kind of a blogger I am. I love art and I definitely want to keep Friday's Art Smarts going. And I'm getting so excited about the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling that I'm leaning toward taking this blog in that direction. I'll probably still throw in those personal reflections because it's a great outlet for me, but... I do think I want to bring some focus to the blog. Anyway, stay tuned. Things are in the works.

And, in the spirit of Charlotte Mason, I've got a few ideas for you moms of the preschool set. 

How About Narration?

Charlotte Mason was a big fan of narration, or (as I understand it) retelling a story or piece of information in your own words. Having been a teacher, I can tell you that narration is nothing new to mainstream education, either. It's everywhere, and for good reason. If you can narrate a story that you've heard, it shows that you've gained at least a basic understanding of it. If you can narrate a passage from a non-fiction book, it shows you've grasped the concepts, at least a little.   

According to Charlotte Mason, younger students shouldn't have to be so concerned with written narration, and instead should focus on retelling a story orally. 

Narration, with preschoolers, can happen almost without them realizing it if you choose the right kind of stories. Preschoolers love rhymes and repetition - use that! Preschoolers love to tell the story with you - encourage that! Find books chock full of rhymes and repetition and let them finish your sentences. Look for stories with a certain amount of predictability (counting stories are great for this). Before you know it, they'll be telling you the story! 

Preschoolers are also (usually) very visual and very concrete. They love props. It never hurts to add a few props to help preschool narration along. Here are a couple ideas.

Story Sticks (aka, puppets)

This doesn't have to be fancy, folks. I made these story sticks to go along with "The Very Busy Spider" in an hour. After reading the story once to Daniel, I brought out the sticks, and boy, was he excited!

We read the story a second time.

Sorry for the picture quality here...we were in the dining room to keep the story sticks out of the baby's reach and the lighting was terrible!

With the introduction of each new animal, Daniel grabbed the appropriate stick and "acted" out the part.

He made the animal sound, and by the end of the third reading, he was retelling some of the other parts as well (especially catching on to the repetition). 

And he wanted to do it over and over again. I'd call that a win.

The Felt Board

Do any of you guys own this fantabulous toy from Felt Creations? It's basically a felt board, but you can buy all sorts of story pieces to make your own scenes. We've got a couple of different sets, and the kids love to break it out every now and then and create these elaborate story scenes. What a great toy. 

But even if you don't own a felt board from Felt Creations, you could totally make your own. Hot glue a large piece of felt to a large piece of cardboard and you're in business. And you've got a whole world of possibilities. 

This week, Daniel and I are working on the letter L. To go along with that letter we're reading a story called "The Very Lazy Ladybug". This is a great book - very predictable and lends itself well to preschool narration. Last night I grabbed my basket of felt scraps and went through the book to recreate the main characters in the story:

This took me 30 minutes to an hour. Not too bad, especially since I did it while drinking coffee and listening to music. Not a bad way to end the evening. Later this week, after we've read the story once or twice, I'll let Daniel use the pieces to retell it (looking at the pages in the book if he needs help knowing what comes next). 

I've done this already with a couple of different stories and the kids love it. Something about creating scenes on a felt board, man. They're all over it. If you wanted to get really into it, you could also make plants and trees and rivers so the kids could go all out. 

I know what some of you are thinking. Some of you are shaking your head and saying to yourself that you could never draw all those animals. Well...I like to draw. And I freely admit it. But I also know that young kids are terribly forgiving. I've drawn some pretty horrible stuff (I'm thinking about a certain Tinkerbell) and they think it's the most amazing thing ever. Don't let that stop you - they'll love it!

All right. That's it. I'll be back on Friday with this week's installment of Friday's Art Smarts, I promise. Until then, thanks for reading and I hope you leave with some new ideas :)

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  1. Sarah, I really love your blog! You always write with such honesty and I appreciate that so much. Even though I'm not homeschooling my little babies yet, I still enjoy reading about all of your projects. They seem like so much fun! Keep em coming! :)

    1. Thanks so much, Katy. That's really good to hear. Honestly, one of the main reasons I'm continuing to write this blog is because friends and family have mentioned that they like to read the posts. My desire, when I started (besides sharing kid updates with grandparents), was to encourage others, especially other moms. It's good to know that that's happening :)


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