Thursday, April 22, 2010

Laura, Mary, & Narration

At the beginning of our pioneer studies we began reading Little House On The Prairie. I'd actually put off reading the books allowed because I thought my boys would scoff at them. They are anti-girly through and through. Only occasionally submitting themselves to the occasional girlie thing. I have, after all, successfully gotten them to join me in watching a Strawberry Shortcake episode or two. They thought the Purple Pie man was the coolest. Alas, I tried. They've also suffered through a few musicals, which entranced them. Said musical also inspired them to ask if they could dance on top of a piano too. So, needless to say I wasn't convinced they'd take too kindly to this series of books. I was wrong. They were smitten within the first few sentences. I have never seen Jayden sit quite so still for anything. Nor, have I seen him willingly produce a chapter book or be willing to discuss it quite so much as he was with Little House On The Prairie. Honestly, it shouldn't have surprised me. Laura is a very curious person. She means well, she truly does. She even aims to do well, but her curiosity or well meaning better half can land in trouble without ever meaning to. Jayden can so very easily relate to characters like this. He took with Ramona Geraldine Quimby too. He spent an entire week running around the house shouting, "ROMONA!" each and every time something went wrong.

If Laura wasn't enough to lure him in, my boys are quite smitten with anything that was once real. So knowing Laura was a real person enticed them too. Not to mention the constant conflicts with the Indians, wolves, and panthers. For Little House On The Prairie we used the free lapbook from Homeschool Share. It's an excellent lapbook, and huge too. However, I felt the need to be a bit more free with these books. We are using them as our school time read aloud, and as I looked at the little booklets in the lapbook I realized the booklets made for good narration topics.

This struck a cord with me, because narration is something I wanted to spend a bit more time with this year. We've done it, very loosely, in the past and I really wanted to work a bit more heavily on it. So when we began On The Banks Of Plum Creek I decided to forgo the free lapbook, which would be very awesome if we were using this book as our sole unit study. Instead, I pick something from each chapter and ask them to tell me about it in as much detail as they can.

Morgan does really well with this, and I enjoy seeing what aspects of something he dwells on and expands a bit. Jayden doesn't do bad considering this is new territory for him, but he does take a bit of prodding. He was disappointed the other day when Morgan's narration seemed much better then his. Which reminded me of the idea in A Charlotte Mason Companion where Karen suggests taking your quieter child aside and letting them narrate in solitude. I like this idea, but we do so much together I was debating how that would work. While it's an idea I'm still going to play with a bit, for now what I decided to do was have them each narrate a different part of the story.

We read two chapters a day (sometimes more, but on average two) which allows me to pick something from each chapter. I try to find something I think they will each like the most. For instance, when we read the third and fourth chapters they both centered around the little creek and things the girls did. I let Jayden narrate something from the third chapter. I simply asked him to tell me what the girls did when they played at the creek. To tell me as much as he could remember.

Now, the downside to this theory was that I was asking him to remember a smaller, considerably so, part of the story that had happened at the beginning of what we read. His mind was fully focused on the wonderful water play that had happened later. However, once he changed his train of thought he didn't do half bad:

They used tubes to scare fish and to drink. They used them to blow bubbles too. They made necklaces out of the little tubes. They took tubes & blue flowers home to ma.

While I know he could have done better, I felt he didn't do half bad for his first time at it and perhaps my lesson learned might be to stop at the end of each chapter. Or, to have Jayden narrate from the last chapter we read.

Morgan on the other hand usually has to be held back so I can catch up with him as I tend to type or write what they say so we can look back on it if we want to. Plus, it makes a great record keeper for their notebooks:

The two girls put on raggy clothes to go swimming. Then they went down the path, which had long grass and tables [table land], then it had short grass, and then long grass again. At last they were finally there!
One of the girls was splashing and the other one said, “Don’t Laura!” Laura started to go to the deep water then Ma said, “Dont Laura, you’re not allowed there.”  Laura went towards the deep water when she didn’t know anyone was watching her. She went to the deep water and something pulled her down, down, down. Then it let go. Pa pulled her up. Bingo!  Pa was the “the thing” that pulled Laura down. So he dunked her. Then she asked him to do it again. Pa said she should never go to the deep water again. 
Pa said that they should go play with Mary. Mary got dunked once, but Laura got dunked several more times. Then they had water fights, and they played and it was a good afternoon. Then they had to go home. They climbed over the hills. Past the soft grass, past the hard grass. Past the long grass, past the short grass. Past the tables. Bingo, they were home.

He was quite hung up on the word Bingo! today. I then asked each of the boys what their favorite part of what we read was. Morgan felt the splashing and going under water was great, Jayden disagreed because he felt that the girls hadn't gone properly prepared. You know, with goggles and stuffs and so they probably got blocked ears. Um, yeah, never mind it was the 1800's or anything like that, right? His favorite part? The Dunking because, 'it was unusual. I was expecting it to be an octopus, not her dad! -- Suddenly something pulled her under! SURPRISE!! It was her DAD!"  And yes, he gave us a great edge of your seat voice when he described that to us.

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