It’s time for our non-fiction unit! This is one of my favorites because kids just love learning amazing facts. It’s fun to watch them become little “teachers” to their peers, sharing what they learn and have become experts on.
One essential skill we cover in this unit is finding the main idea and details. Here I’ve included ideas for helping your students learn to identify the main idea and details in
It’s not always easy for little learners to grasp the concept of main idea and details. It’s helpful to break down this skill into easy-to-follow steps.
Main Topic vs. Main Idea
Beginning readers can have a hard time distinguishing the main idea from the topic, often using just 1 or 2 words to tell the main idea. This is really the main topic and is a stepping stone to understanding main idea.
When kids can identify the main topic, I explain that the main idea is a complete sentence about the topic. I challenge them to think a little deeper to name the most important message about it. You can use the prompt, “The main idea is that…” to help them form a complete thought.
The jump from topic to
Here are a few slides from the interactive PowerPoint.
These cut and paste passages are perfect for a follow-up activity. It may be hard for students to independently identify the main idea and details right away, so just having to sort sentences is a helpful beginning activity.
For beginners, these coloring activities are perfect for identifying details that support the main idea.
These differentiated reading passages also help kids practice finding the main idea and details.
Main Idea Centers and Guided Reading Activities
Of course, students can also practice this skill during centers!
Here, students read the main idea flowerpot and find the matching detail flowers. It’s differentiated to be played with either pictures or words.
In this craft, students cut and paste the flowerpot by matching the main idea middles to the detail petals.
These writing pages are scaffolded (with and without sentence stem).
One of my favorite resources to use during guided reading is this set of task cards. Each card has 4-5 pictures and kids identify the topic (beginners) or main idea.
For more advanced students, these can also be used in a notebook or to play Scoot. Scoot directions and recording sheets included.
Here are a few more fun games to practice identifying main idea and details:
- Mystery Trait: call up kids that have something in common: girls/boys, glasses, clothing color, jewelry, hairstyle. Have kids find what they have in common. To make it more challenging, think of other things besides the physical- kids who sit at a particular table, are known for playing soccer, had a birthday that month, etc.
- Guess the Title: Before reading a non-fiction book, cover the title (make sure to cover the title page and back cover, so kids don’t spot it accidentally!) After reading, have kids tell what the book was mostly about and guess the title! Some book suggestions: A Frog’s Life, From Caterpillar to Butterfly, Who Would Win series, What if You Had Animal Teeth?, Animals in Winter
- Give the Details: ask 3 kids to come up and whisper the main idea to them. Have them take turns giving details to the rest of the class until someone guesses it. Sample main ideas: There are lots of things you can eat for breakfast. Many animals live on a farm. You can help people in many ways.
- Details: One of my favorite activities- a carousel. Write
a mainidea on each of 5 charts. Hang up around the room and have kids work in groups to write as many details as they can think of. Afterwards, read each chart and confirm that all of the details support the main idea.
Posters and Graphic Organizers
Of course, you’ll want some display posters to sum up how to identify the main idea. I’ve got you covered! My Main Idea & Details bundle also includes posters and bookmarks for reference while reading.
Plus, I included a variety of graphic organizers you can use with any book.
You can find everything you see in this post in my Main Idea & Details bundle! It even includes an optional character (Main Idea Moose) you can use to represent this comprehension strategy.
*NOW, this is also available in digital format, with audio for the slideshow presentation!
I also have a bundle of FOUR comprehension strategy packs. Save with the bundle and have resources for Main Idea, Comparing & Contrasting, Making Inferences, and Sequencing! Please note this bundle does NOT include the digital version. The digital Main Idea pack is available separately here.
Get a free sample of the Main Idea bundle here: FREE Main Idea Printables
If you liked this post, you may also like the following post about teaching comparing and contrasting:
Read about teaching Decoding Strategies here: