Teaching Kids to Paraphrase, Step by Step

Paraphrasing is such a hard skill to master – and so very important! Paraphrasing is essential for many kinds of writing. Kids who don’t learn to paraphrase well will not only grow into poor writers but may also even resort to plagiarism, which is not at all a good thing. Here is a step by step plan for teaching paraphrasing to your students.Teaching kids to paraphrase is often just as challenging as paraphrasing is on its own. Rachel Lynette shares some of her top tips for teaching students how to paraphrase, step by step, in this blog post. You can also learn more about two sets of paraphrasing task cards that are available in her Teachers Pay Teachers store!

Start by Talking

At its essence, paraphrasing is putting something into your own words, so begin by having student do just that. A fun introductory activity is to split your students into pairs and ask a question such as, “What did you do after school yesterday?” or “Tell where you would like to go on vacation and why you would like to go there.” Student A answers the question in three or four sentences. Next, Student B paraphrases Student A’s answer. Then, the partners switch roles. You will want to model this for the class a time or two before you begin.


Another game you can play with your students is a variation on Quiz, Quiz, Trade. Give each student a card with sentence written on it. Have students find partners. Student A reads her sentence, and Student B paraphrases it. Then, the students switch roles. Finally, they trade cards before both moving on to find different partners.


Paraphrase Together

Try paraphrasing a short paragraph together as a class. Display the paragraph with your document camera or on the board. You may want to give your students their own copies. Make sure your students know the difference between paraphrasing and summarizing. Talk about different strategies that can be used. One approach is the Four R’s:


  • Reword – Replace words and phrases with synonyms whenever you can.
  • Rearrange – Rearrange words within sentences to make new sentences. You can even rearrange the ideas presented within the paragraph.
  • Realize that some words and phrases cannot be changed – names, dates, titles, etc. cannot be replaced, but you can present them differently in your paraphrase.
  • Recheck – Make sure that your paraphrase conveys the same meaning as the original text.
Here is an example:


Original Text:
At just 8.5 square miles, the Pacific island country of Nauru is one of the smallest countries in the world. The island was once rich in phosphate, but most of the resource has been mined, leaving damage to the environment behind. Nauru has a population of about 10,000 people.

Paraphrased Text:

Nauru is a Pacific island country that is only 8.5 square miles in area. It is one of the smallest countries on the planet and only about 10,000 people live there. Nauru has mined its once plentiful supply of phosphate. This has damaged the environment on the island.

Independent Practice

After you have done a few together, try having your students work in pairs to paraphrase a paragraph on the board. Be sure to allow a few pairs to share their paraphrases with the class. At this point, students can begin to work independently. You may want to stick with one paragraph at a time, as it will be less overwhelming than an entire article. This set of Paraphrasing Task Cards is perfect for independent practice (and the poster below is part of the free preview, as well as the first four task cards, which you could use for whole-class practice).


Paraphrase It Task Cards for Grades 4-8

Pulling It All Together

Eventually, you will want to move on to paraphrasing entire articles. Encourage students to paraphrase in bite-sized pieces, one paragraph at a time. As your students become fluent paraphrasers, you can move into more advanced activities such as:


  • paraphrasing from notes you have taken from the original text, rather than from the text itself.
  • including quotes in your paraphrased writings.
  • paraphrasing some parts and summarizing other parts.
  • paraphrasing, summarizing, and including quotes all in one piece.
  • using more than one source to paraphrase, summarize, and include quotes. (Throw in a bibliography, and what do you know? You’ve written an actual report!)

I apologize, but I had to remove all comments and disable commenting on this post because the topic attracts scores of  bottom-feeders trying to drum up business for their unethical term paper writing services.

Paraphrase It Task Cards for Grades 2-4

Paraphrase It Task Cards for Grades 4-8

Conversation Starters: 100+ Prompts to Get Your Students Thinking
How to help my students enjoy writing in the classroom
Teaching Theme Ideas
report card comments
Spring Writing Prompts for students

2 thoughts on “Teaching Kids to Paraphrase, Step by Step”

  1. Pingback: 9 Best Ways to use an Online Paraphrasing Tool - David Michael Digital

  2. Pingback: How to Paraphrase Your Notes & Learn More | LP Tutoring

Comments are closed.

Get the support and encouragement you deserve! It's FREE, FUN, & FULL of surprises!
Join the Club!
Scroll to Top
Cookie Consent Banner by Real Cookie Banner