Summarizing in the Primary Grades

Summarizing is a difficult skill for primary readers.  Often we find that students want to tell you all the details of the whole book, or they tell you about one main part.

We start out introducing Summarizing in a whole group read aloud time.  We read multiple books and summarize them together as a class.  Using this anchor chart allows us to show our thinking about the books we read.  On this anchor chart, you can either write out the responses - or you can have students add post it notes with their responses.  In this picture, there is only 1 set of student responses; usually we have multiple students do each of the parts (someone, wanted, but, so, then) as it leads to good conversation. We read the book, Thelma the Unicorn (affiliate link) in this example.
After we've modeled how to summarize, we pull out the Summarizing Hand!  We LOVE using the Summarizing Hand with our kiddos!  We start using with this poster during our whole group read alouds.  We model for students how each finger on the Summarizing Hand helps us summarize the story.  We model many times together in whole group and in small group reading settings! 
This Summarizing Hand tool has students think about the main parts of the book; 
Someone... Who is the main character?
Wanted... What did the character want?
But... But what was the problem?

Here is a video of the Summarizing Hand in action using the book Pinkalicious (affiliate link): 

Once we have practiced several times, students put their own summarizing hand in their Daily 5 bucket.  We have them summarize the books that they read independently.  This is a great tool to pull out when you are having your individual reading conferences. 

We have also found that the Summarizing Hand can help students determine the Beginning, Middle, and End of a book.  Here's how we break down the parts of the Summarizing Hand into B/M/E.
Beginning of the Book -  Someone, Wanted
Middle of the Book -  But, So
End of the Book - Then
We have 2 graphic organizers that help students write about the Beginning, Middle, and End of a book using the Summarizing Hand.  These organizers can be used with any book.

Summarizing Flip Book used with the book, Leo the Late Bloomer (affiliate link): 
Summarizing Page used with the book, Rainbow Fish (affiliate link):

There are so many books that you can use for Summarizing.  Other than the books shown above, a few other favorites are (affiliate links):
Russell the Sheep

Think these Summarizing ideas could help you in your class?  Grab these FREE tools for your classroom NOW!
All of the Bear books by Karma Wilson are GREAT for Summarizing! (affiliate link)