Friday, February 14, 2014

Have Some Fun with Sundae Summaries! {FREEBIE!}

Hi there!  It's Deb from Crafting Connections with you again today!

A few years ago, during my first year working with fifth graders, I was informed that writing summaries was the next standard we would be focusing on.  Actually, the fifth grade teacher asked (in a dry, monotone voice), "What do you have for teaching summarizing that's fun and exciting?"  I stared back at her blankly.  We both felt the same... there was nothing fun and exciting about teaching students the art of summarizing.  "I'll think of something," I told her (in a dry, monotone voice of my own).

My research for something fun and engaging first took me online.  If you've done this same search, you know that my Google search yielded lots of "Somebody Wanted But So" examples.  I checked it out, but I have to say - I just couldn't latch onto this strategy.  I know that some teachers swear by this method, but I just couldn't quite grasp it.  While it works very well for certain fiction stories, I kept finding stories where I just couldn't make it work.  And if it didn't always work for me, how would I effectively teach it?

So, I came up with my own method to teach students to summarize fiction.  As you might imagine, fifth grade students were surprised one morning when I got out the play doh!  While they may have been skeptical, they were also intrigued.  I then proceeded to use the play doh to make a banana split sundae in front of them!  As I formed each component from the play doh, I compared it to the steps involved in writing an effective fiction summary.  I compared the banana halves to the characters and setting, the three scoops of ice cream to the beginning (problem), middle (events related to the problem), and end (resolution), and the cherry on top to the theme.  I also placed toppings onto each ice cream scoop, explaining that these were important details revealed at the beginning, middle, and end of the story...but cautioned students from overloading their summaries with too many unimportant details!  I said that just as too many toppings on a banana split sundae would get all mixed together and the individual flavors would be lost, a summary loaded with too many unimportant details would result in a confusing, overwhelming, and essentially ineffective summary.

Mrs. Thompson (my co-teacher) and I were thrilled with how well this method worked for our fifth graders!  In fact, when the concept of summarizing rolled around last year and again this year (usually October), we got out the play-doh again and repeated the analogy with the next batch of fifth graders!

Last year, I decided that I should take the time to create a PowerPoint and matching craftivity.  Well, it took me more than a year to actually follow through on this, but I finally did it!  (I'll admit, special requests from three different teachers on TpT for such a resource gave me the kick-in-the-pants to finally put a priority on this!  I figured that if three teachers were specifically asking me for it, there were likely many teachers looking for an effective strategy and opportunity to work on this skill with their students.)

I finished the Summarizing Fiction PowerPoint last week!    It includes 45 slides.
Ice cream sundae graphics by Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs.

Then I finished the Sundae Summary Craftivity.  This resource includes an original short story for students to summarize.
Ice cream sundae graphics by Aim Less Daze.
Finally, I followed that up by creating an interactive notebook entry to match the PowerPoint and craftivity, and I'm giving it away as a FREEBIE

Ice cream sundae graphics by Aim Less Daze.

I'll also briefly mention that Amy from Eclectic Educating recently blogged about this important topic, as well.  I liked her checklist strategy, so you may want to hop over to check out her comments on summarizing fiction, too.

I have to admit, I'm looking forward to next October when I can show the PowerPoint to my fifth graders!  I think they will love the craftivity, too!  Perhaps YOU would like to try the Sundae Summary the next time you teach students to summarize fiction!

Before I sign off...unrelated to the topic of Summarizing Fiction, but perhaps of interest to YOU - hop on over to my blog today to find about a flash freebie craftivity!  It's available through midnight tonight (Friday, 2/14).


  1. LOVE this idea- I agree, I've never been one to completely grasp the "Somebody Wanted But So" strategy and feel like creating a "real world" sense of what to include is so much more helpful :)

    Thanks so much for sharing, Deb!! Have a wonderful Valentine's Day and weekend!!

    XO, Kelly Anne

  2. Thank you for reassuring me that I am not the only person who struggles with the SWBS strategy!

    I hope you have a great weekend, as well!

  3. Summarizing definitely can be tricky and not usually one of the most interesting things, unless done right! Thanks for sharing these great ideas! Thanks again for linking to my post, too!

    Eclectic Educating


Thank you for your comment! We appreciate your input!

-All Things Upper Elementary

Blogging tips