Wild Animal Safari Summaries! 

Reading to Learn

Maggie McKinney


The goal of reading instruction is individual comprehension and understanding. Students must learn strategic skills to help them in practicing their reading comprehension. One way students can comprehend is to summarize stories or passages. Summarization involves five steps that help students locate and remember important information in a text.  The five steps are delete unimportant information, delete repeated information, substitute easy terms for lists of items, substitute a series of events with one easy action term, and select/invent a topic sentence. In this lesson, students will use summarization strategies to write a summary of the passage given to them.


Baby tiger passage for each student

Elephant passage for instruction

Transparencies or Smartboard software


Pencils for each student

Individual animal passages for each student (can be the same or different)



Say: Who can tell me what a summary is? (Allow students to answer) That's right, when we summarize we retell a story without telling them the whole story. We get to put it into our very own words and tell the story how we heard it or read it. Everyone might have a different summary, but they should all tell the same story. Let's see if we can learn some important strategies to write our own summaries.


Say: Summarization involves five simple steps that help us locate and remember important information in a story or a passage.  The five steps are 1. delete unimportant information 2. delete repeated information 3. substitute simpler words for a list 4. substitute several events with one action word

5. select/create a topic sentence. 


Say: Here I have a passage about an elephant. First I am going to read it silently to myself. Once I have done that, I am going to go back through the passage and pick out the important parts that I think I could use in my summary (With the passage on Smartboard or overhead Go through the passage and underline the important parts). Now that I have underlined the important parts, I am going to put them together in new sentences, which makes a summary of the whole passage. (Write out summary using the underlined important parts—Model this so students will fully understand).


Say: Now let's see if we can all do it together, I want your help this time! Let's read this passage about baby tigers silently to ourselves. When you're done reading to yourself, underline all the important parts of the passage. (Allow time for students to read) Now that everyone is finished reading and underlining, who can tell me one thing they underlined? (Have several students answer while you underline them on the Smartboard/overhead in front of the class.) "Now let's use these underlined words and phrases to write a summary of the passage, just like I showed you before! (Ask for student's thoughts about summarizing the passage. Work as a class to write a summary about baby tigers.)


Say: Now we are going to see if you can summarize on your own. Everyone has a different passage about animals. I want each person to use their summarizing strategies, the ones we have discussed, to summarize the passage. Once you are done, switch your summary with your desk neighbor and see if they can guess what your original passage is about.


Give students time to read and summarize.



Students will be assessed by turning in their summaries of each of their passages. Student partners will share what each others passage was about by reading each other's summaries. Teacher will call on students to share what their partner's passage was about and to share important information.


Wild Animal Summaries by: Amanda Shankles http://www.auburn.edu/academic/education/reading_genie/voyages/shanklesrl.html

http://animal.discovery.com/guides/baby-animals/mammals/tiger.html (Tiger passage)


http://animal.discovery.com/guides/baby-animals/mammals/african_elephant.html  (Elephant passage)


http://animal.discovery.com/guides/baby-animals/baby-animals.html (Passages for summary assessment)


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