That's a Tiger of a Summary! Grr!

A Reading to Learn Lesson Design
by Katie Freeman


Rationale:  Comprehension is the final goal of learning to read.  To be a successful reader children should be able to read and summarize a story.  When summarizing children should be able to identify the important parts of texts they have read.  This lesson will teach students to identify the important parts of texts they have read.  Students will learn one strategy of summarization through presentation of the strategy, modeling and guided practice.   



pencil and paper for each student

Dry erase board and dry erase markers (or chalkboard and chalk) for modeling

Poster with three summarization techniques (Pick out important ideas; Eliminate less important details; Organize the important ideas into one main idea)

Copy of expository text for each student: ''All About Tigers: Behavior'':


All About Tigers

Do you have a cat as your pet? Observe it (or any other cat in your neighbourhood). There is a lot of similarity between the tiger and your cat. After all, they belong to the same family. So if you want to know how tigers behave - just observe a house cat! Of course, tigers are bigger and live in the wild, but they are a lot like your cat. For instance, they also spend most of the day resting and sometimes sleep up to 18 hours a day.

Like all domestic cats, tigers have claws that are retractable (that can be slipped back into the skin). And like all cats, they are meat-eaters.

Solitary Beast

Unlike the lion, the tiger prefers to live alone. Each tiger has its very own 'territory' or home area of which it is very protective. It doesn't like other tigers entering its territory.

To mark the border of its territory, the tiger scratches on tree trunks with its claws. It also sprays the area with a mixture of 'perfumes' from its special scent glands and urine to scent-mark its territory. Any other tiger that strays into the area recognizes these signs, and knows that it is in someone else's territory, so it is on its guard.


Tigers walk long distances. When one tiger smells the scent of another, it lowers its tongue and curls up its face. This is something like the face you would make if you smelt something bad and then got angry!

An ordinary day in a tiger's life is generally quite peaceful. For most of the day, the tiger rests, sits around, sleeps and cleans itself. This is because the tiger has to save up all its strength for those few minutes when it has to hunt for its food. It roars loudly to warn other tigers.

Hunting Techniques

Tigers need a lot of energy to catch their prey. They usually hunt late in the evening. Spotting a deer or a wild boar (its favourite meals), the tiger waits in the shadows of the tall grass as silent as a mouse until the moment is right. And then it suddenly springs upon its unwary prey. Extremely agile for short distances, the tiger can jump up to 30 feet. With fabulous night vision, powerful jaws, super claws, unbelievably strong forearms and the sharpest of sharp teeth, the tiger is a fantastic hunter.

Excellent camouflage combined with its excellent stalking techniques, enables the tiger to approach its prey within strike distance without being seen. Camouflage is a technique of using a particular characteristic to melt with the background so that you can hide from both predators and prey species, enabling the animal to attack without being seen. Many animals from small insects to deer use camouflage to hide. (Don't you wish that you could camouflage yourself in the classroom so your teacher would never see you?)

As the most active hunting time of the tiger is between dusk and dawn, it greatly depends on its excellent night vision. The tiger can see and hear very well in the dark. This is why it can hunt for its food in the late evening when it is almost dark.

The hunting tactic generally entails killing prey species with a single bite - usually at the throat in the case of large animals, or at the back of the neck of smaller prey. Its teeth are well suited for holding prey and tearing off chunks of meat.

After a kill, the tiger drags the carcass (yet another example of the tiger's incredible strength) to thick cover, preferably near water to protect it from vultures, scavengers or even other tigers.

Tiger Appetite

Tigers are carnivores. They love eating meat! Large deer make up nearly three-quarters of a tiger's diet. They also prey on wild pigs and cattle. As you may have noticed, all these are large-hoofed mammals. This is because a tiger needs nearly 3,000 kg. of meat a year. Sometimes a tiger might go for a young elephant or rhinoceros or decide to stick with tiny creatures like crabs, fish, lizards, crabs and small birds.

Tigers that live in Indian forests often try and attack the Indian porcupine, which are powerful animals, weighing as much as 18-20 kg. This is, more often than not, a bad idea! Tigers may suffer serious injuries or even death from the long spines that the porcupine drives into the face or lungs of any who tries to threaten it.

When it's really hungry, tigers can eat anywhere between 18 to 32 kg. of meat at one time from a single carcass. Talk about a really huge appetite! Then it will not eat again for several days, sometimes even a whole week.

Did you know that the tiger only manages to catch its prey in one out of 10-20 tries? This is because while predators have claws, teeth and jaws for hunting, nature has also gifted the hunted prey with lightning speed, one of the many tactics in their bag for escape!

Prey species

Nilgai: The nilgai is herbivorous and feeds on grass, crops and fruits such as ber. It can manage without water for long periods.

Sambar: Sambar feed on grasses and are mostly nocturnal. Most deer feed on grasses that are rich in calcium.

Gaur: The largest of the world's oxen, it can be nearly thrice the weight of an adult tiger, yet the experienced tiger has been known to prey on it successfully.

One copy of article for teacher: ''All About Tigers: Family Life'' (or project on SMARTboard)

In about 90-100 days, the tiger cubs are born. The tigress is quite slim during this period and her belly becomes big only just before she gives birth.

The mother looks for a thickly vegetated area or any other secure hiding place such as a den for her cubs. Two, three or four small, blind cubs are born. They are completely helpless and have to be protected from all kinds of predators such as eagles and jackals. At the slightest indication of danger, the tigress picks up her cubs with her mouth and moves them one by one to a safer spot. The place also needs to be near a waterhole so that the tigress will be able to hunt more easily and be able to feed them properly.

The tiny cubs weigh about 0.9 to 1.5 kg. and measure between 22 to 29 cm. in length. The mother licks the young ones immediately after birth to stimulate and assist blood flow. As they grow, the mother spends a lot of time licking, cleaning and cuddling her cubs. For the first month, the cubs remain in their den. After that, they may go out sometimes, but they always stay very close to their mother.  

For about two months, they only drink their mother's milk. After that, they eat small pieces of meat. The only time tigers are known to live in a group is for two or three years from birth, when they're busy learning the facts of life from their mother.

When the cubs are three or four months old, the mother takes them out on their first visit to the forest.

By the time the cubs are six months old, they grow very fast and need to eat a lot. They travel more at this age, and over longer distances, but they still need their mother to help them learn about the sights and sounds around them.

When the cubs are almost a year old, they begin to help their mother when she hunts. They do this by causing confusion or by distracting the prey. Sometimes they try and hunt small animals like peacocks themselves. For the first few years, young tigers fail almost every time they try and attack an animal.

Tiger cubs spend a lot of time playing and jumping around. They also have a lot of play fights with their brothers and sisters. This helps them test their strength as they grow.

As the cubs grow bigger and stronger, the mother begins to spend more and more time away from her family.

By the time they are about two years old, the mother teaches them everything that they need to know. They are then ready to leave their family and start their own grown-up life.


1.  Ask the class, ''Does anyone know what summarization is?''  Have class discuss what they think they know about the concept.  Explain, ''Summarization is picking out the important facts out of something that you are reading.  When you summarize, you don't focus on all the details.  Today, we're going to learn how to summarize.  This will help you become better readers.  We're going to read silently at our desks.  Can anyone tell me how we read silently at our desks?  Good Job.  We read to ourselves, and we don't talk to anyone around us.''

2.  ''We are going to use three steps to summarize a story.  I'm going to think as I read about what is important and what might be simply details.''  Read the students a short paragraph of a story and model how to summarize it.  For example the article All About Tigers: Family Life   ''First I will read the text all the way through (read aloud).  Then, to summarize I will go back through and pick out all of the important ideas that the story has to have to make sense (underline a few key points of the story).  After I have picked out all of the important ideas I can cross out the ones that are not important like this (demonstrate crossing out irrelevant sentences, ex. "The cubs do this by causing confusion or distracting their prey").  Now I can read through the parts of the story I already decided were important (reread underlined sentences) and create one single idea (write a summative sentence, ex. "Tiger cubs need their mothers as they grow and they also help their mother in response").''  As you model each of the steps point to the poster with the summarization techniques on it.  After modeling how to summarize do one more quick review of the steps on the poster.  ''Before we begin reading, let's go over the three important things to remember when you read.  The first step is to pick out important ideas from the story.  Then we throw away the details that are not important.  Last we organize the important ideas and make one main idea of the story.''

3.  Pass out and introduce the article All About Tigers: Aggression and Hunting Techniques to each student.  Provide booktalk: "Tigers are very different than a household kitty cat.  Tigers are very powerful and have tricky techniques to catch their prey.  See how their appetite affects their aggressive lifestyle as you read "All About Tigers: Behavior." Have them read silently through the first paragraph of the article before focusing on the summarization techniques.  Go over the summarization techniques again, and then have the students reread the first paragraph of the article.  Tell them, ''When you read the story the second time, cross out all the information that isn't important to the story with a pencil, circle the sentences that you think are important and then finally, take all the circled sentences and combine them into a sentence or two that summarizes the whole article.''  Tell them to use the three summarization techniques.  Tell them to write down the facts that they think are important.  Model three facts that you (teacher) think are important after they read theirs aloud.  This will help them when they do this later.   

4.  The students should have a basic understanding of how to summarize a story now that they have had practice.  Pass out a piece of paper to each student.  Tell them to make three columns.  In the first column, they should put ''Deleted Information.''  In the second column, they should put ''Important Facts.''  In the third column, they should put ''Most Important Ideas.''  Explain to them to fill in information from the story into the three columns.  Model using the first paragraph again.  This is a great way to scaffold for the students.  If a student continues to have problems putting the information into the columns on paper, allow them to continue using cross out/circle method.  ''Please finish reading your article silently. You should have three columns on your paper, write the sentences in the column that they fit under as you read the article, if it helps continue to cross out unimportant information and circle important stuff. Remember to write down all of your information as you go.''

5.  Continue to practice summarization strategies so that students can successfully master the skill of summarizing.


I will check students' summarization skills by checking their work to see whether they have used the cross out/circle method or the column method.  I will also ask students comprehension questions related to the article such as, ''How does a tiger use its camoflauge to hunt?'' and ''During what time of the day do tigers like to catch its prey?''


Duncan, Megan.  Dive Into Summarizing


All About Tigers


 Return to Projects Index