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Teaching Kids to Find The Moral of the Story

Comprehension, Literacy

Written by: Krys Warstillo

I don’t know about you but I’ve always had a few learners who just struggle with moral of the story. It seems to be a skill that some kids grasp quickly and others need a lot of repetition. A story like, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” is interpreted by some students as, “being naked makes people laugh.” I remember the first time I used the phrase “slow & steady wins the race” with my students and the lightbulb moments were so sweet to see! If your students aren’t quite getting moral of the story, then some repeated practice is what you’re looking for.

Introducing Moral Of The Story

Often moral of the story lessons end up going hand in hand with the fables and fairytale units. If you’re looking for some ideas for How to Introduce Fables, Folktales & the Fairy Tale Genre to 2nd Graders we’ve got some of those, too!

Start With The Familiar 

Now, you’re going to find that your students are most successful at mastering moral of the story when they have a lot of exposure to it. During direct instruction, I start really slowly by telling stories I know they’re already familiar with. Stories like “Tortoise & The Hare” and “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”. Then, gradually lead into stories that still have pretty obvious morals but are stories they may not have heard before like, “King Midas & The Golden Touch” or “The Ants and the Grasshopper”. 

There are a lot of great YouTube versions of these well-loved stories. The one below is King Midas. Stop the video at 4:40, if you’d like to discuss with your students what the lesson might be before they’re told. 

Find The Moral of the Story Together

Once my students are starting to understand what we’re looking for I like to use short reading comprehension passages during small group lessons. The 2nd Grade Reading Comprehension Passages – Summarizing and Moral of the Story passages are perfect for this. There are 12 different short passages on 3 different reading levels. So, I give each group the same story but at a level that is appropriate for them. 

How Coyote Stole Fire Summarizing and Moral 2nd Grade Reading Passage

You can use one story a day, as guided practice, for the first few days until it feels like they’re catching on. Once students feel more confident and comfortable with the task you can assign them independent work or homework. For the higher reading levels the question, “what is the moral of the story?” is open-ended. For lower reading levels it’s multiple choice. 

How coyote stole fire 2nd grade reading passage and comprehension questions

For students with fantastic comprehension skills but who struggle with decoding, I like to ask them what the moral is without giving the options as an added challenge. Vice versa, for students who can decode really well but struggle with comprehension, offer the multiple-choice options to support them. 

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What’s The Moral Of The Story?

As soon as your students are ready, it’s time for some independent center work. Try adding in the Recount and Moral Composition Notebooks center. It’s part of the 2nd Grade Literacy Centers resource.  

recount and moral composition notebooks 2nd grade literacy center to practice finding the moral of the story

For this center, you can use any of the classroom library books you already have, or feel free to print out the remaining pages from the Summarizing & Moral of the Story Reading Comprehension Passages and put them in page protectors. This way your students will have differentiated text in a format they’re already comfortable with to go along with the center. 

Another option would be using this center digitally and pairing it with short videos of stories, like the King Midas story above. 

digital summarizing and recounting moral of the story 2nd grade literacy center

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More Moral Of The Story Practice!

If you find that your students are still having trouble or you want some independent review before testing season super quick rapid-fire practice is what you’re going to be looking for. The resources above all involve analyzing the text along with searching for the moral. This is great for hitting a few different comprehension skills at once but Author’s Purpose Toothy is what you need for that super-targeted practice.

Author's purpose Toothy game stored in a school supply box

If you’re a 2nd or 3rd-grade teacher, don’t let the words “1st Grade” trip you up. These quick paragraphs are at a 1st-grade reading level which makes them easily accessible for your students who are at a lower reading level and very digestible for those reading at or above grade level. They’re self-checking which means that students who are struggling with this skill can get the instant feedback they need in a low-pressure assignment. These Toothy cards also make excellent exit tickets, if you’d like a quick mastery check. 

Author's purpose Toothy Game

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Comprehension For All

When our students age into later 2nd and beyond into 3rd grade, comprehension becomes much more of a focus. As your class moves through those literacy heavy-hitter standards don’t forget to take a look through the Comprehension section of the All Access.

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