Sunday, March 21, 2010

This and That and the Other...oh, and Main Idea and Summary

Well, I read from several friends on Facebook that the movie, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, inspired their kids to read -- HOOOORAAAYYY!

I ended up getting "The Movie Book" of the movie yesterday at Costco -- Matt immediately snatched it up with Sam clamoring close behind. I told Sam he had to finish the "Dog Days" one first, so he immediately sat down at the kitchen table, and DIDN'T BUDGE until he had read over 100 pages...motivated much?

The other thing I wanted to talk about is how I am so proud that my boys accomplished their reading goals for the break. Did your kids make any? How did it go?

Now Matt and I need to sit down together and he needs guidance in harvesting all those sticky notes. He had a book with 26 chapters...and he's been diligent about the cumulative summary, so it should be pretty easy.

I have let him do it on his own since about chapter 7, so I may need to go back and help him weed out detail and focus on the main theme in order to create a great summary.

Main idea seems pretty obvious to us, but it is a cloudy subject for kids, especially when they are reading Chapter books. There is so much detail, so many "interesting" parts...they have trouble seeing through it all.

Something I do by way of analogy and preparation -- take a magazine picture and have them list all the things they see. Write them all down.

For example, I have a picture where there is a little girl on the beach holding a crab. When they see the picture, they list everything:
red hair
girl holding crab
blue shorts
no shoes

After we list it, I ask them a simple question...What is this picture about? I will pose these questions...Is it about her red hair? They say no! Is it about the waves? More no responses...I then tell them they are right...those are DETAILS. I remind them we need them in the picture to make the picture, but they aren't what it is MAINLY ABOUT. We go over our list, marking D next to things we think are details. The remainder, which in this case is "girl holding crab" and "beach" become the main idea and we mark those with an MI -- now, why is the beach a MI -- because characters can't operate in a vacuum. They need a setting.

So we then formulate our summary: It is a picture of a girl holding a crab at the beach.

Now, keep in mind these are very concrete. Keep with what is there. Do this several times, and make the pictures go from very simplistic to more complex. The more that is "happening" in the picture is tougher for them.

Why pictures? Because their brain will be doing the exact same thinking that it will when they are reading books...they are learning to "sift and lift." Just like a sifter or a colander, the big stuff stays in (the Main Idea) and the little stuff (the details) fall through.

Don't be frustrated if your kids are having trouble with the concept. It is really tough. I will try and focus on a few books as examples you can use for practicing summary and main idea...any suggestions? What are your kids reading?

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