Game play is simple. After finishing a book, the adult and the child face each other. (Classroom teachers may wish to allow students to play the game in pairs.) The adult begins the summary by saying a sentence about the beginning of the book. It is important to model good summarizing language, such as “In the beginning,” or “When the story starts.” Once the adult is finished with the sentence s/he tosses the ball to the child who provides the next sentence, then tosses the ball back to the adult. They should go back and forth until the story is complete. For more advanced students, adults may change the rules so that players may offer only half sentences if they wish, creating cliff-hangers that the other player must complete. Adults should continue to model good language used for sequencing information throughout, and children should be praised for using this language themselves.
Here is an example of the beginning of a game of Summary Ball played after reading Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree:
Adult: In the beginning of the story, there is a tree who loves a little boy.
Child: The little boy makes crowns from her leaves and eats her apples.
Adult: And the tree is happy. But then…
Child: ...they boy gets older and he doesn’t visit the tree as much.
Adult: And the tree is sad, until…
Here are some useful words and phrases to use while playing Summary Ball:
· At first,
· In the beginning,
· When the story starts,
· After that,
· So then,
· As a result,
· Because of [event],
· In the end,
· At last,
Photo: Valentina Powers (modified) / Flickr Creative Commons