How to Paraphrase: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Ashley Davis

Ashley has taught first, fourth, and fifth grades and holds a master's degree in Curriculum and Instruction.

In the lesson, you will learn what it means to paraphrase information and why it is so important. You will also learn how to paraphrase information that is written or presented orally.

In Your Own Words

Ocelot?! What's an ocelot? Ahhh…you've just been assigned a research project! Well, that doesn't sound too bad. But what if you've never heard of this animal? How can you write a paper about it? Well, first you are going to find and read articles that tell you about ocelots and that will give you the information necessary to write your paper. But should you write exactly what you read? Nope! Your teacher wants to know what you learned, not what an author knows. So, how can you use the information you read about ocelots? You paraphrase it, which means you put the information in your own words.

Writing books and articles takes a lot of time and hard work. Authors want you to enjoy what they wrote and even learn from it, but they want everyone to know it is their work. If you don't paraphrase an author's work, but rather use exactly what an author said and claim it as your own work, you are guilty of plagiarism, which is considered stealing, and is taken very seriously by schools and colleges.

Paraphrasing can also be useful when taking notes! If you are in class watching a video or listening to your teacher, you can't possibly write every word you hear, but you can paraphrase what you hear. Let's find out how!

How Do I Do That?

When you paraphrase, you take the big ideas and put them into your own words. When paraphrasing, it's fine to use some of the same words, but not all of them. You obviously wouldn't want to change things like names, places, or dates as those are specific facts, but everything else should be in your own words.


For example, your teacher reads the following on ocelots and you need to take notes. Let's see how you can do that and then paraphrase what your teacher read.

''Ocelots are small, American wild cats about twice the size of housecats. Their coats have distinctive markings in a wide variety of patterns. Each ocelot's pattern is unique, with dark spots on an orange, tan and white coat. ...Ocelots are also sometimes called painted leopards -- because of their markings -- and dwarf leopards -- because of their markings and their size. However, ocelots are only distantly related to true leopards or tigers.'' (Bradford, 2016)


How can you put this into your own words? Remember, you just need the big ideas, so as you are listening, make a list of the big points - you can write the sentences later. Here are some big ideas from the paragraph:

  • wild cats
  • twice as big as pets
  • different patterns and coloring
  • compared to leopard, not the same

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