Summarizing Like Stars

By: Kimberly Craig


Rationale: Children not only need to know how to recognize words automatically and read them with effortless expression, but they also need to actually understand what they are reading.  Therefore, reading comprehension is one of the most important skills for a child to learn as they will benefit from it for the rest of their lives.  There is almost no point to read if they are not going to understand what they are reading.  Summarization is one of the best ways to help children learn to comprehend what they are reading and it is important that the children are taught the rules on how to summarize properly.  In my lesson, students will learn to summarize like stars through semantic mapping.  We will first make a semantic map together and then the kids will make one on their own reading a different book.



Dry erase marker

Chart paper

Star semantic mapping worksheets (a big star in the middle where the main idea or topic goes and the supporting details go in smaller stars around it)


Notebook paper

Posterboard with rules for summarizing on it (Find main points. Delete small details. Combine any ideas that are repeated.)

All About Frogs by Jim Arnosky (one for each child)

Where Butterflies Grow by Joanne Ryder (one for each child)



1. I will hang a poster up on the board in front of the room that has the most important summarization rules on it: "Find main points. Delete small details. Combine any ideas that are repeated." Then, I will explain to students that "one of the points of reading is to learn something and we cannot learn new things if we do not understand what we are reading.  Therefore, once readers are fluent, they need to begin comprehending what they are reading.  Comprehension means the same thing as understanding." I will write the word 'comprehension' up on the board and have the students say it with me.  Next, I will tell them that "summarization is one way to make sure we are comprehending what we are reading.  A summary means a short description of something you have read, so by writing a summary you can pick out important parts of what you read and will be able to remember them later on because you comprehended what you read."

2. "Where Butterflies Grow" answers many question we have had about the development of butterflies over their lifespan.  Let's read this book and get all of our questions answered! I will pass out a copy of the book to each of you and give you about fifteen minutes to read it to yourself.  Make sure you are not reading along with your neighbor or reading aloud.  As you read, you can write down some notes about what you think are the most important parts of what you are reading.  Some of these could be the main idea, the characters, the place where it happens, or any problems that are introduced.  If you need help, look at the poster in front of the room that lists the three rules of summarizing."

3. I will give them about 10-15 minutes to read and pick out key ideas from their reading and as they read I will draw a semantic map up on the board that is similar to the one I will pass out to them.  Once they are done, I will explain that "a semantic map is a tool that helps us summarize what we read. The worksheet I am going to pass out to you has a semantic map that looks like the one I drew up on the board so as I fill in the one on the board, I want you to fill your's in at your desk.  In the star in the middle, let's write the title of the book, Where Butterflies Grow.  Then each of the stars that are around that big star will have one of the key facts we learned from our reading. " We will complete the semantic map for Where Butterflies Grow together as a group.  They will be able to use this example for help when summarizing the next book. 

4. "Next, we are going to read a book called All About Frogs.  All About Frogs is a book that will tell us all about how frogs grow, how they live and where they live!  We will also learn about all the different types of frogs, the food they eat, and the sounds they make! I am going to have you read this book on your own and make a semantic map like we did for the book about butterflies.  If you turn your worksheet over, you will see another blank copy of the semantic map from before.  Remember to put the title of your book in the big star in the middle and you can look up at the board to see the three important rules for summarizing. Make sure to do your best work because I will be taking up the semantic maps once we are all finished! Also, be sure to be doing your own work and not helping or talking to your neighbor.  Once you have completed the semantic map, write a summary in paragraph form on a sheet of notebook paper using the information you put in your semantic map." 



I will collect the semantic mapping worksheet from both books and their paragraph summaries at the end of the activity when everyone is finished.  I will also walk around the room as they are doing it to monitor whether everyone is doing their own work and that they understand how semantic mapping and summarization works.  If a student seems to be struggling, I will help them individually.



Barton, Kimberly. "Star Summarizers."

Arnosky, Jim. All About Frogs.  Scholastic. 2002.

Ryder, Joanne. Where Butterflies Grow.  Puffin Books.  1996.


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