Narration Notecards: A Fabulous Written Narration Idea

Charlotte Mason Narration Prompts Ideas

If you have a student who is old enough to be doing written narrations, you may have run into this dilemma:

“I want my student to spell names and places and events correctly in his narration, but I’m reluctant to allow him to look back at the chapter to make sure of those spellings. It would be too easy for him to ‘review’ as he scans the pages for the words he needs. How can I encourage correct spelling without placing temptation in his way?”

My friend Crystal came up with a great solution. She took the idea of highlighting some key words from the chapter, as we have discussed before, and expanded on it. Here’s what she does.

She grabs an index card and makes four headings: People, Places, Dates, Vocabulary. Then she pre-reads the assigned chapter and jots down key words in those four categories. She looks especially for words that could be difficult for her student to spell correctly.

She labels the card with the chapter number and pops it into the book as a bookmark for her student. He can scan the words for a preview before he reads (if reading independently) or just refer to the listed words as needed after he reads. Those word lists will give him the correct spellings without his looking back through the chapter. The Dates listings help with possible Book of Centuries entries too.

If he thinks of another word from the chapter that he wants to use in his narration, she simply adds it to the notecard.

And here’s another great idea: Crystal also uses those index cards to jot down ideas for narration prompts for each chapter. She will often list several ideas, ranging in difficulty from Beginner to Advanced. Then when a chapter is assigned, she can either select one of the narration prompts for her student or sometimes she allows the student to choose.

I love Crystal’s narration notecards!

And here is some great news: she has created some narration notecards just for you. Stay tuned for the exciting announcement next week!


  1. Love this idea and excited for the new printed cards. Here’s my question… As a busy wife + mommy to 8, how do you suggest I find the time to “pre-read” and make my own cards for books? Especially the books for my older children that I have never read myself? I had great “plans” this summer but so much “life” got in the way that I never got around to it. Suggestions? Advice?

    • The nice thing about the notecards is that you will be able to reuse them with all your children as they grow into those older books. So I would suggest that you “divide and conquer” and “work backwards.”

      Divide and conquer by selecting which books most need the notecards. Historical fiction, probably not. Literature, probably not. So narrow down your list to mainly the books that give narrative accounts of historical events and people.

      Work backwards by prioritizing your list with your oldest student’s books first. Remember, you will be able to reuse those cards the most. And you might want to start with the last book that student will be reading this school year and work your way backwards from there.

      Then just set aside 20 minutes each evening to work on it. If that is not a possibility, maybe do 20 minutes on three evenings. Or perhaps you could do 20 minutes on two evenings and an hour time slot on Sunday afternoon. Or perhaps you could take one week off and give some intentional focused time to it.

      Small, constant touches add up. You may not be able to create an entire set for every book every child will read and have them ready to go by next month, but every card you create will be a benefit and a step in the right direction.

      Above all, don’t beat yourself up over it. Narration notecards is one idea that we shared in hopes that it might be helpful. If it isn’t a good fit for you right now, don’t worry about it. The main thing is that you are using those wonderful living books and encouraging your children to narrate the ideas in them.

Comments are closed.