Let’s Get Ready to Summarize


Reading to Learn


Anne Joseph



Summarization is one of the most vital concepts any skilled reader can utilize.  Summarization is an important literacy goal because it helps students to understand what has been read.  As children approach the late elementary school years, comprehension becomes a very important skill for them to acquire.  Children are expected to remember information that they have read and in order for children to be able to recall the main points, they must be able to summarize the information.  However, until students are provided instruction on how to construct summaries, this is very difficult for them.  By teaching children how to delete useless and redundant information, finding or creating a topic sentence that covers the main idea of the story, we can help them remember information that they read. This lesson will teach students how to summarize what they are reading and ultimately learn how to find meaning of what they have read.



1.  Begin by saying “Today we are going to be doing some silent reading.  Before we start, we need to review how we read silently.  I have an article right here that I need to read to myself.  I am going to read it silently.”  Model how to read silently for the children.  Over-dramatize your eyes moving from word to word.  Your mouth can even make motions of reading the words without making any sound. 

2.  Introduce the lesson by explaining what it means to summarize what we read.  Say, “Today we are going to talk about how important it is to understand what we read.  If we read something and we don’t understand it, then we won’t be able to apply it to our own lives.  A good way for us to understand something that we read is to summarize the text after we read it.  To summarize a story means to pick out the main idea of a story, so that we can remember and understand the information easier.  Sometimes stories have a lot of information in them, and only some of that information—the most important details—help us to understand the story.” 

 3.  Explain to the children, “There are 3 steps that help us to summarize information when we read.  I have written these steps on the board.”

 4.  Hand out copies of Snake Safari to the children.  Say, “A great way to help us organize this information when we are reading a story is to make a map. Today, we are going to read the article Snake Safari to ourselves, and then we are going to work as a class to create a map to explain the main ideas of this article.  I want each of you to read this article to yourself silently.  When you are finished, you can begin discussing with your neighbor what the article was about.”

 5.  Once everyone seems to have finished reading, say to the children, “Now let’s make a map to help us summarize this article.  When we make a summary map, we put the main topic, which is usually found in the title of the story, in a circle in the middle of our paper.  Who can tell me what the topic of our article is?  That’s right, snakes!  So we are going to write the word snakes in our topic circle.  (Write this on the board.)

Now that we know our topic, we will draw antennas from our circle to describe different important facts that the article told us about snakes.  So, if I was thinking of a detail to include, I might write something like Cobras are the longest snakes.  They are venomous.  (Write this on the board as a line coming out from the main idea circle.) Once you have completed your map, think of a topic sentence that will cover the main idea of the information in the map.  When you have your map and topic sentence complete, it should be easy for you to write a summary of this article.  You should be able to use the topic sentence and the detail sentences that you have listed to write a short summary that would tell someone who had not read this article what it is about.” 

6.  Tell the children that when they are finished with their summaries, they need to take out a book for silent reading time.  For assessment, I will read each child’s summary and look for the main ideas and details. 


Rom Whitaker.  Snake Safari.  National Geographic News Online

Hope McClanahan, What Was THAT All About

 Beth Montgomery, Super Summarizer

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