Today, speech-language pathologist Carrie Clark explains how to help a child learn to summarize an event or story through the use of literacy activities. Listen below!
Step One: Teach Main Idea
Step Two: Sequencing Two Events from a Picture Book
- Get a simple children’s book that has pictures and at least two main events
- Read the story to the child
- Give the child two events to choose from and ask which happened first and which happened last (which happened first? Did she vacuum the floor or go to the store first? Ok, so which one happened last)
- Have the child retell the two events in order
- If the child is able to write, have him write the main idea as a single sentence and then write two more sentences, one for each of those two events. Help the child use transition words like “first” and “last”.
Step Three: Sequencing Pictures of 3-5 Events from a Picture Book
- Get a picture book that has at least 3-5 events (depending on the difficulty level the child is ready for)
- Take pictures of 3-5 events from that book and print them out so you can show the child the pictures individually
- Read the book to the child
- Bring out the pictures and mix them up. See if the child can put them in the correct order based on how they happened in the story
- Have the student verbally tell you the events in order while looking at the pictures
**For younger children, work on taking the pictures out and summarizing the story without seeing the pictures. This is a good place to stop for younger children.
Step Four: Pulling Important Details from a Story and Sequencing Them
- Get a developmentally-appropriate story (maybe a bit on the easy side) and a piece of paper
- Read the story with the child
- Have the child identify the main idea and write it at the top of the paper
- Have the child recall important details from the story and write them on the paper in circles or bubbles. They don’t need to be in order at this time.
- Once he has all of the important details written down, have him number them in the order they occurred. Have the child use the book as a guide if needed.
- Pull out another piece of paper and have the student write one sentence that includes the main idea. Then, have the student write sentences to summarize all of the main details from the story (in order)
Step Five: Is it Too Long?
- Pull out the child’s final piece of work from the last step. Ask the child if the summary is too long. If the summary is close to the length of the original story, it’s definitely too long. Otherwise, it’s really a judgement call.
- If the story is too long, have the student go through and cross out less important details or combine details where possible to make the story shorter
- Have the student re-write the story
**At this point, you can work on having the student summarize events and stories verbally since he knows the entire process now (if that’s one of his goals)