Why You Should Use Narration To Test Children and Some Narration Ideas

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I firmly believe narration is one of the best ways you can test children today. I was surprised that you could make the testing process fun and less stressful if you used narration. And for this reason, I started researching narration ideas to use in my homeschool. Simply said, narration is a better way to test kids in schools or homeschools.

So, if you want to know how to do narration and incorporate it in your homeschool, stay tuned!

In this article, we’ll be looking at the following:

  • What is narration?
  • What are the benefits of narration?
  • What are some narration ideas?
  • What is a narration jar, and how to use it
  • What are narration cards, and how to use them
  • What is a narration cube, and how to use it

What is Narration?

Narration is simply telling someone else back in your own words what you just heard.

It is a hallmark of a Charlotte Mason education.

When you read your child a story, and you finish the story, you want to know how much they’ve paid attention (and you want to make sure they were paying attention), so you can use narration to test their understanding.

You might do this by saying, “Can you please pretend you’re [the character we just read about], and I’ll pretend I’m interviewing [the character] and you have to answer me like you’re [the character].”

We’ll get into some narration ideas soon, but for now, let’s look at the benefits of narration.

What are the benefits of Narration?

The benefits of narration are that your homeschool becomes less stressful, as children don’t feel they are being put under as much stress as children might feel if they were in a traditional school testing situation.

At school, children have been known to hyperventilate or be moody for days before a test.

However, with narration, because you’re making the test fun, you don’t get these extreme sorts of reactions as much.

Different Categories of Narration Ideas

The great thing about narration is that it’s not just oral, but it can take many forms. In fact, there are many categories you can do your narration ideas in, including:

  • Speaking
  • Writing
  • Building (STEM or STEAM narration)
  • Drawing
  • Drama

What Are Some Narration Ideas?

Some narration ideas (also called Charlotte Mason narration prompts) are getting your student to:

1. Repeat back to you the storyline of the passage they just read

2. Write about one of the characters they just heard about in the book you just read to them (or they just read)

3. Make a STEM model of the building you just read or heard about

4. Draw a picture of the building they just learned about

5. Pretend to be a character you just read about, and you ask them questions about their life.

What is a Narration Jar and How to Use It

A narration jar is simply a container or jar that children can pick slips of paper out of and do the narration ideas that are written on them.

On these slips of paper, you write out the narration ideas that you’ve thought of, and the child picks out one and has to perform/act/write/build the idea that’s on the paper.

It can make narration really fun – like masquerades!

On these pieces of paper, you can write all your narration ideas, and if you’re feeling nice, you can even include a slip of paper that says, “Skip the narration for today and have the time off!”

What are Narration Cards, and How to Use Them

Narration cards are just cards you can buy for a couple of dollars (or make yourself!) that have narration ideas on them.

The narration cards, like in the link above, have different narration ideas, depending on what grade your child is in.

Narration ideas get more complex as grade levels increase. Here are suggestions from Build Your Library based on age level:

6 – 8:

  • Create a puppet show based on the reading.
  • Draw a scene from the reading and include a short caption.
  • Tell five things you remember from the reading.

8 – 10:

  • Write a song or poem inspired by the reading.
  • Design a quiz based on the story.
  • Compare and contrast two characters – you can make a Venn Diagram or make a chart. Why are they similar/different?


  • Write a movie script for a scene or event.
  • Choose a character from the story and create a character sketch or map.
  • Make an illustrated timeline.

What is a Narration Cube, and How to Use It

A Narration Cube is a cube with a narration idea written on each of the six sides. It’s just another way to make narration fun, really.

In a nutshell, Penny Gardner said they wrote the following on their cube:

  • plot – the storyline; what happened in the story
  • setting – where the story happened
  • character – narrate what one of the characters was like
  • compare – compare and contrast with another story, or make a parallel to your life
  • theme – what’s the main point
  • the heart – an open-ended question where you can share your favorite part or a bit that evoked an emotion in you.

Conclusion: Why Use Narration Ideas in Your School or Homeschool?

Narration is hands-down the most superior way to test kids that I’ve ever heard of.

Quite frankly, I’ve never really heard of a child begging to be tested, but with a narration jar/cube/cards, I can see this might well be the case!

Narration ideas also provide a broad way you can test the knowledge of your kids – it doesn’t just have to be oral narration. Indeed, you can choose creative narration, written narration or…even STEM narration!

And that’s why you should use narration to test kids. So, give these ideas a shot, and let me know how it goes!


Rebbecca Devitt is the author of Why on Earth Homeschool: The Case for Christian Homeschooling. Rebbecca is a Christian wife and mother of one gorgeous, chubby baby boy. She loves Jesus and loves homeschooling. To read more of Rebbecca’s posts, head to How Do I Homeschool.

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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).