Summarizing in the Elementary Classroom

I'm so excited to share about summarizing in the elementary classroom! It is a essential skill that we work on heavily in grades 3-5! I'll share some of my favorite books to teach this strategy and some other fun ways we incorporate it in class.  I love summarizing because I can use fiction and nonfiction books like the ones suggested below and it works out great!


 This is a beautiful nonfiction book! I love how it showcases his life before and what brought him to the towers.  This is a great reminder of the Twin Towers and what they represent.   A nonfiction book with enough plot to sustain an easy summary - win win!!

The Librarian of Basra is another fantastic nonfiction book! I love that this book gives a glimpse into a place that students might not normally choose for books and showcases a real problem and solution that faces that country.  It is very thought provoking and brings up questions thatcan start a great discussion!

This book is just a plain ole gorgeous tale! Easy to follow and perfect read aloud because so many children can relate in so many ways.  A great beginning book to sequence and summarize without losing track of too many details.

My Name is Georgia is another nonfiction biography tale but written for children.  I don't think kids get exposed to these enough.  We study biographies at the end of the year and I love how the versions can really hook readers.  They can relate!

This book showcases her history, education and evolution of art in a great way. The art is awesome!  This book is one we do later in our study because students tend to put too many details in and we really focus on what a summary means!  

This book again is another fabulous tale!  It could be used to teach so many skills but I love it for summary. Focusing on the events of the story and really honing in what happens just bring this story to life!  

A boy and grandpa looking for work for the day leads to an eventful day with a big lesson learned. 


  If you want specific QR linked listening Centers with rigorous questions - you can click the picture to preview them! We love them in our class and it gives my students practice with the skill! You could summarize other books in a listening center but in testing grades this gives us a boost!  These ask "What is the best summary?" from a variety of choices and I find that is extremely tough in the beginning and is great practice!

Post It Note Summary --- my students are already grouped in desks.  I give each table 5 post and they put the 5 parts - somebody, wanted, but, so, then.  We put the post its in order and compare with other groups.  We all did the same story but you could do different ones at each table.

SCOOT - place task cards at each group - rotate as groups and write short summaries for each.

Whole class- I make an anchor chart of SWBST - (somebody, wanted, but, so, then) because we start this so early in the year it is the easiest way to get started.  Later in the year we talk about plot and other ways to check summaries!

Summarize your read aloud - we (I!!!) always forget that we model reading strategies and have a book we are all reading.  Use you read aloud to help model your skill or focus for the week.  This is often an exit ticket or entrance slip in my class.  They have to summarize the book so far or just one chapter.  Easy to do in guided reading but can also be a focus for whole class and jumping off point for the day.

Into the Book - Summarizing - I've blogged about this site many times and it never fails! IT IS FANTASTIC! You can do this whole class - on iPads - in computer lab, but students have to summarize what they read as they go! No right or wrong but great practice with short stories.

I always click - no login -- doesn't matter if it saves and saves time and one more login to remember.  It has other strategies on there as well!!

1 comment

  1. I had not used Into the Book before. Super cool! Thanks for the great recommendation!


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