Activity Overview

Learning to summarize a story is a skill students will use throughout their life. Starting with the Beginning, Middle, and End, students will learn to identify important scenes in stories in a way that creates an easy to understand summary. In this activity, students will create a 3 cell storyboard that summarizes Sadako’s story in the beginning, the middle, and the end.

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes Summary Example

Beginning: When the readers first meet Sadako, she is energetic, determined, and ready to do anything to make the junior high running team the following year. Sadako and her family remember those who lost their lives due to the atom bomb on August 6, 1945; some lives were lost that day, and others are still being lost as a result of illness due to the poisons from the bomb.

Middle: Sadako learns that she has leukemia, otherwise known as the “atom bomb disease”. She is hospitalized and at the urging of her best friend, Chizuko, she begins folding paper cranes to save her own life. It is said that cranes live for a thousand years, and if a sick person folds 1,000 cranes, they will become healthy again.

End: Although at times she feels okay, Sadako’s health worsens, and she loses her battle on October 25, 1955, 356 cranes shy of 1,000. Her classmates fold the remaining 356 cranes so that Sadako can be buried with 1,000 of them. Three years later, a statue of Sadako is unveiled in Hiroshima Peace Park, honoring her and those who died as a result of the atom bomb.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Due Date:

Objective: Create a visual plot diagram of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.

Student Instructions:

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Separate the story into the Beginning, Middle, and End.
  3. Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components using appropriate scenes, characters, and items.
  4. Write a short description for each part of the story.
  5. Save and exit when you're done.

Lesson Plan Reference


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Beginning, Middle, and End Summary
Create a storyboard that summarizes the story. The storyboard should have three cells - one for each part. Below each cell, type in 1-2 sentences that describes that part of the story.
Proficient Emerging Beginning
Each of the three cells represents a different part of the story. The cells are in order from beginning to end. Sentences accurately summarize each part.
One cell is out of order, or the storyboard is missing important information.
Important information is missing and/or two or three cells are out of order.
Cells include images that help to tell the story and do not get in the way of understanding.
Some of the images help tell the story. Descriptions do not always match the images.
Images do not make sense with the story.
Spelling and Grammar
Spelling and grammar is mostly accurate. Mistakes do not get in the way of understanding.
Spelling is very inaccurate and hinders full understanding.
Text is difficult to understand.

How To Help Students Understand the Sequence of a Plot


Introduce Framework

Teachers can introduce different plot frameworks to the class by explaining the aspects of the framework and how it can be used in different stories. For instance, the three-act structure explains how the beginning introduces people and establishes the conflict, the middle deepens the conflict and raises the stakes, and the ending gives a resolution to the conflict.


Choose Important Story Elements

Identify the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution as the plot's main components. Describe each of these components' characteristics and how they fit into the overall framework of the tale. Depending on the understanding level of students, teachers can raise the complexity of the plot frameworks. For instance, using BME (Beginning, Middle, and Ending) for younger levels and more complicated plot diagrams for more mature levels.


Explain Examples and Visuals

Visualize the progression of a plot by using tools like diagrams, charts, or narrative maps. These can aid the students in more clearly understanding how the plot develops. Teachers can use graphic organizers such as character maps, plot diagrams, or other elements that make the learning more simple and interesting.


Use Storyboarding

Introduce the concept of storyboarding to students and explain how they can utilize this method to summarize the plot as well as identify the main points of the narrative. Ask the students to use one framework and create a storyboard of their favorite story using online tools or even on paper.


Reflect and Summarize

Encourage the students to summarize all the main points of the concept. Ask the students to actively participate in class and take notes to enhance their comprehension and critical thinking abilities.

Frequently Asked Questions About Summarizing Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes

How can students summarize Sadako’s journey throughout the story?

Students can take note of the important details mentioned in the story that are crucial to the development of the narrative. For instance, Sadako’s positive personality, the cause of her illness, the role of paper cranes, etc. Students can also identify the main themes in the narrative so they can summarize while keeping the themes in mind. Lastly, encourage the students to paraphrase and summarize their selected points in a well-put paragraph.

What difficulties does Sadako encounter in the narrative?

Sadako's battle with leukemia, which she contracted as a result of radiation exposure from the atomic bombs, is a difficulty. She is resolved to fold 1,000 cranes in order to carry out an old Japanese myth and to express a wish for both peace and good health. Though, fighting the battle was not easy for Sadako but she remained determined and optimistic throughout this difficult time which is an important message for many people.

This Activity is Part of Many Teacher Guides

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