Let’s Get to the Bottom of It!

Leslie Myer

Reading to Learn


Rationale: Comprehension is the goal of reading.  A great strategy for students to use in comprehension is to summarize the information.  In this lesson students learn to identify important and less important details of a text in creating a summary. 


Highlighters and Black markers for each child

Copies of “Baby Hippo Orphan Finds a Friend” National Geographic for Kids. Reported by Catherine Clark Fox on March 4, 2005.

Posters with paragraphs on them.


1.  “Today we are going to learn how create a summary of text we read.  Creating a summary means finding the most important parts and putting them in a shorter form than the original.  Summaries can help us tell a friend the information in a quick way.”

2.  “Follow along with me as I read this paragraph and make a summary.  (Have it written on the poster) Let’s remember that we are reading silently. Our eyes move but our lips do not. Now I will read this paragraph silently to myself.  “This weekend is the big football game. The teams playing are Auburn and Alabama.  I think I will get a hotdog at the game. I hope Auburn wins!”

3.  “Now let’s go through and highlight some important things in this paragraph.  The main idea of the paragraph is that a big football game is being played this weekend.  “Football game” is an important phrase and so it “this weekend” so I am going to highlight them, but the rest of the sentence is not that important so I am going to mark it out.  We can also mark out the sentence about getting a hotdog because it is not important.  The teams that are playing are important, so I will highlight those.  Now I have all the important parts of this paragraph highlighted in yellow.  I can easily remember what the main idea of this paragraph is.  Now let’s take all the highlighted information and make a short summary of this paragraph.” Allow students to help you come up with a summary.  Note using the highlighted words and marking out the unimportant ones. If they need assistance, try “Now I know that Auburn and  Alabama will be playing a football game this weekend.”

4.  “Now it’s your turn.! Now, I want you to summarize this paragraph. “As lightning flashed around them, Sabrina and her parents ran for cover.  When it stopped raining, we thought it was safe," says Sabrina. They started to hike back to their car along the trail. Then zap! A lightning bolt struck nearby. It happened so fast that the family didn't know what it hit. A jolt of electricity shot through their bodies” (from Lightning!) Have the class work together as a whole and let children summarize it. 

5.  Now we are going to work on something a little longer.  This is an article from National Geographic about a baby hippo who got separated from his family.  Read and find out who his new friend is.   Everyone take a highlighter and black marker and read this article silently to yourself.  Then highlight the important information that will help you remember the main ideas and mark out the less important information.” Allow students time to read and share their ideas.

5.  “Now use the highlighted parts to make a summary of this article. Remember a summary is written in your own words and has only important information in it.”

6.  “When you are done share your summary with a partner. Talk about how they are similar and different.”

7.  Assessment: Take up each students summary and check for including important details and deleting unimportant ones.  Use these questions as a checklist:

- Is unimportant or redundant information left out of the summary?

- Are important events and ideas stated?

- Do they state the author’s main idea and supporting details?


Fleming, N.  1, 2, 3…A Summary. http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/connect/flemingrl.html

Fox, C. C. Baby Hippo Orphan Finds a Friend. National Geographic for Kids. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/kids/2005/03/owen.html 

Owens, A. K. Sum it Up!  http://www.auburn.edu/rdggenie/explor/owensrl.html

Skelton, Renee. Lightning. http://www.nationalgeographic.com/ngkids/0406/.

Click here to return to Constructions.