Homeschool | Narration Journal

I wrote about our daily school schedule in my last post and mentioned that I would outline how we complete our Narration/Illustration projects (Narration Journal).  This has really been the icing on our homeschool cake and such a perfect direction for my kiddos.  They love art and have such creative minds, so I am so glad that we decided to take our school philosophy in this direction.  I know my kids learn so much about history, science, art, and life during these projects and it is a gentle way to pique their interest in new subjects. 

Ella is the only child that I am formally working on a Narration Journal with.  Liam and Guinnyth are always right beside us with their paints, but I don't assist or instruct them during this time.  They stay busy while we work together for 15 minutes.    

Usually, there are three books that Ella reads during the school day.  I read one book as a read aloud to the older kids while the little girls nap and it allows us to have a great dialog without being interrupted.  For our narration/illustration lesson, Ella picks one of the books to illustrate.  With that book, she decides the "scene" she wants to draw and we sit and talk about how she will caption the picture based upon what she learned during the reading time.  So far, she has read, verbally narrated what she has read to me (so I can assess comprehension), and decided what she is going to draw in her illustration.  

Next, we sit together and talk about her illustration: what she is going to draw, the details that will need to be included in the picture, and how to create interest in the picture.  She begins to draw.  If she needs a bit of assistance, I will help out, but we discuss that the picture needs to be "hers" and that I can't be a crutch.  Her main struggle at this point is drawing scale.  She has a habit of making the pictures take up a small amount of the page, so we are working on creating an illustration that fills the page. This is usually all we do for the first day: read, narrate, draw.

Once that is put to paper, she decides what she wants to add color with- crayons, pencils, watercolor, oil pastels, etc.  Lately, she has been loving her watercolors.  She paints her background and works her way to the front of the picture.  It's amazing how watercolor allows you to do that!  It gets more and more beautiful as you add layers.  During this time, I teach her a short art lesson (mixing colors + how to not get a muddy color when you mix paints, how to use your brush to get a sharp line and thick line, how to lighten + darken colors, blending with a pencil, etc.) and I get a chance to learn right along side of her.  This is the end of our second day.  Sometimes, this part might take two days if we need to let the paint dry before adding another layer of dimension to the picture.

The last thing she does for her project is to write her narration on the picture.  She works on this all week long for her "writing practice" and by the end of the week she has a paragraph written perfectly.  By doing this, I get to have mini lessons on grammar, spelling, and colorful writing in an organic way.  It is so much better than sitting at a workbook page and trudging over it.  Once she copies it onto her picture the project is complete!

We typically do one of these projects per week and it has been such an enriching time for us.  We turn on music while she works on her writing and artwork.  The diffuser is usually diffusing an uplifting or seasonal scent and I have even been known to bake some cookies for this special time of our day.  

Brief Daily Project Schedule:
Day One: Read, Narrate verbally, Discuss + Draw picture
Day Two: Add color to picture + Work on written narration
Day Three: Finish color + Edit written narration
Day Four: Add written narration to finished picture

I hope that helped to clarify our process.  It really is easy to incorporate into a school day.  Once we figured out the best way for us to do this, it became such a natural addition to our work load.  Let me know if you have any specific questions.  You can email me at thequickjourney at yahoo dot com. :)


  1. Do you have any recommendations for videos or tutorials on getting started with water colors? We are starting to add this in to our homeschool. It's a new-ish idea to me as I'm becoming more aware of what different methods have to offer. Love it!