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Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel Tales2go Audio Books

Standards and Objective

Learning how to pick out the important information can help children improve their reading comprehension, but when asked to summarize, children are likely to provide either too much information or too little. The ability to recall and record important information are important steps in building skills for higher-level analysis and synthesis. This activity helps children gain confidence in relying on their own memory and supports growth in comprehension.


  • Main idea graphic organizer

Tales2go Titles

  • Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel
  • Black Beauty
  • The Chocolate Sundae Mystery (The Boxcar Children Mysteries #46)
  • Sylvester and the Magic Pebble


After having listened to a story, such as Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, explain that you would like to have a one-paragraph written summary of the story. Explain that in a summary as few words as possible are used to explain the main idea(s) of the story. Since they listened to the story, and can’t go back to the book to help recall information, they must rely on their own memory to pick out important details.

Have them get started by creating a list of all the details they can recall using the main idea graphic organizer. Encourage them to think about what was most interesting to them about the story as that information is likely to be important and relevant to the main ideas. After their list of details is complete, have them use that information to create their summary paragraph. Plan for time to share and compare their paragraphs and encourage them to take notes on any important information they may have missed or forgotten to include.

Extensions and Variations

Even though new kinds of machines are taking her place, Mary Anne is still very talented at what she does. Have children come up with a list of Mary Anne’s qualifications or talents then ask them to design and create an advertisement for Mary Anne’s services. Discuss who the target audience would be for such an ad and have children think about what is the single most important thing to convey in their ads. They should illustrate and color their advertisements or could use computer graphics if available.

After having created their lists of story details, instead of individual summaries, have children work in small groups of 4 or 5. Provide the each group with a blank sheet of paper. The first child writes one sentence of the summary paragraph and then passes it on to another child for him or her to write the next sentence in the summary. They continue passing the sheet and writing until the paragraph is completed.


Main Idea Graphic Organizer (PDF download)

About Comprehension

Comprehension is the ability to grasp something mentally and the capacity to understand ideas and facts. Listening to the audio books on Tales2go increases the comprehension of the student by allowing them to hear stories in the appropriate context, and to concentrate on the meaning of what is read. By just listening, barriers such as decoding are eliminated. As students use Tales2go to comprehend biographies, poems, plays, fables and more, their increased ability to comprehend literature motivates them to learn more and encourages them to read. Increased comprehension also makes it possible for reluctant readers to participate in classroom discussions in a meaningful way.