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Mar 1, 2015
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Summarizing: Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia

Grade Levels: K - 3


This lesson is designed to introduce primary students to summarizing a story. The lesson shows students how to summarize a part of Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia. In this lesson, students will help you complete a story map, and then they will illustrate a part of the story. They will use their drawings to help them summarize a part of the story. This is the first lesson of a set of summarizing lessons designed for primary grades.

This lesson, which focuses on summarizing, assumes that students are already familiar with basic story elements including character, plot, and setting. Summarizing also requires students to be familiar with sequencing events and determining importance. If students are unfamiliar with these concepts, you will need to take some time introducing them.


  • Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish

  • Chart paper

  • Story map

  • Drawing paper


  1. Hook/Engagement

    Engage students with this activity by writing these questions on the blackboard or on a piece of chart paper:

    • Who plays the game (characters)?

    • Where is the best place to play the game (setting)?

    • How do you play the game (events)?

    • Who wins the game (solution)?

    Ask students to think about a favorite game or sport that they play. Examples include neighborhood games such as Kick the Can or organized sports such as Tball and soccer. Read through each of the questions you wrote on the board, and have students answer the questions about the sport or game they choose. Explain to them that answering the four questions helps them remember and talk about the most important parts of their game or sport. There could be other important information, or details, about their game or sport, but these questions help students think about the most important aspects. Explain to students that they are going to read Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia and summarize some of the parts of the story, including the baseball game.

  2. Vocabulary

    1. Gloomy: joyless

    2. Puzzled: confused

    Students should be familiar with the story element terms: character, setting, problem, main event, and solution.

  3. Measurable Objectives

    Tell students they will learn how to summarize a part of Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia using a story map to record the important points in the story. Then, working in groups they will read a part of the story and draw a picture that illustrates the main details for their assigned part of the story. Then, they will use their pictures to help them summarize that part of the story.

  4. Focused Instruction

    Before students can summarize a story, they need to read the story and record the most important parts of that story: the characters, the setting, the problem, the main events, and the solutionusing a story map. Explain to students that when you summarize, you use your own words to retell the most important parts of something that you read or heard. Point out that students could use their answers to the questions about their game or sport in the Engagement activity to describe their game or sport to somebody who doesn't know how to play it. Tell them that filling in a story map can help them remember the most important parts of a story so that they can summarize, or retell, it to someone.

    Draw a story map (without completing it) on the blackboard or on a piece of chart paper and review the terms characters, setting, problem, events, and solution with students. Explain that you are going to read aloud Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia to them, stop at certain points, and ask them to help you fill in the story map. For the first few stopping points, model your thoughts about how you decide what information to include.

    Example story map answers:

    Characters: Amelia, Grizzlies, Tornados

    Problem: Grizzlies need Amelia's help, but she can't really play baseball.

    Setting: baseball field

    Main Event: Amelia makes mistakes on the baseball field.

    Main Event: Amelia keeps making mistakes on the field and the Tornadoes get frustrated.

    Main Event: Amelia Bedelia hits a homerun!

    Solution: Amelia helps the Grizzlies win. They want her to be their scorekeeper.

    Read pages 5-18 and then think aloud about how to record the characters and the problem: "I know that I can't include all of the information from the story. I'm only supposed to include the people who seem to be the most important characters. I'll list Amelia Bedelia as a character because she is the main character of the story. I will list the Grizzlies because they are the baseball team who need Amelia Bedelia's help. The problem is that Amelia Bedelia doesn't know how to play baseball."

    Read pages 19-32 and then think aloud how to record more characters, the setting, and one main event: "I need to add the Tornados to the character list because they are the team playing against Amelia and the Grizzlies. The main setting is the baseball field. And, the first event is that Amelia is playing for the Grizzlies, but she doesn't really understand the baseball terms, so she is doing funny things, such as putting a tag on a boy." Have students help you fill in the rest of the main events and the solution for the story. Suggested stopping points:

    1. Read pages 33-45

    2. Read pages 46-55

    3. Read pages 56-end

  5. Guided Practice

    Explain to students that now that they have recorded the most important parts of Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia, they can start to summarize some of those parts. Note that because this is the first lesson on summarizing, students will only need to summarize part of the story. They will work up to summarizing an entire story in the final lesson plan. Group students into teams of three or four and assign each group a section of the story map. For example, one group can have "characters," another group can have "setting," and so on. Tell each group that they need to draw a picture that summarizes, or tells, about the main part of their topic. Remind students that they cannot include every detail; they need only to draw the most important parts. For example, for the "character" group, they should draw Amelia Bedelia and the two baseball teams. They do not need to draw a picture of Jimmy, Bob, and so forth. The "setting" group should draw the baseball field, but they should not draw Amelia's house even though some of the book's action happens there. Review the story map with students, and if possible, give each group a copy of the book so that they can look at the pictures and remind themselves of the important details for the part they are drawing. Guide students to draw only the most important parts of the story.

    Ask groups to share their picture and summarize (retell) that section of the story map for the class. Help students with sentence frames for their assigned section. For example: The main characters are _______; The main setting of the story is: _________; The problem in the story is _________. When they say their sentences, explain what part they are summarizing, the most important characters, a major event in the story, and so on.

  6. Independent Practice

    Tell students they might summarize part of a story, or an entire story, because they liked it so much that they want their friends to read the story. Ask students to think about their most favorite part of Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia—the one part that they would want to tell a friend about to get him or her to read the story. Ask them to draw their favorite part of the story. Remind them that they should only include the most important details of that part of the story in their drawing because they are going to use the picture to help them summarize it for you.

  7. Assessment

    To assess whether students have learned how to summarize a part of a story, ask them to meet with you individually and have them show you their drawing. Then, ask them to summarize their favorite part of the story. Listen to see whether students have included only the most important details that are needed to summarize this part of the story. Ask each student a question about the topic they were assigned; for example, you could ask a student in the "Character" group to tell you about (summarize) Amelia Bedelia's character.

Reflection and Planning

Determine which students understand how to summarize a part of a story and which students need help with this skill. For students who need more help, ask them to summarize something that they already know, such as how to make their favorite snack or how to feed their pet. Encourage students to draw a picture and then use that picture to tell someone how to make their favorite snack. Once students are more comfortable with summarizing something they already know, challenge them to summarize part of the next story that you read as a class. If students are still struggling with the concept of summarizing, review the skills of finding the main idea and sequencing, before going on to other summarizing lessons.

When your students are ready, try the lessons Summarizing: Nate the Great and Summarizing: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.


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