Main Idea

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Our interactive Main Idea Lesson Plan develops reading comprehension and critical thinking skills.  A foundational skill required for all in depth analysis of literature and expository text, identifying the main idea is a critical skill that students will use throughout their academic and professional careers as readers. This lesson prepares students to accurately identify the main idea and to utilize supporting details to a draw conclusion, which impact both reading comprehension and written expression.

Main Idea Lesson Plan Includes:

  • Full Teacher Guidelines with Creative Teaching Ideas
  • Instructional Content Pages about identifying the main idea
  • Hands-on homework activities giving students practice on identifying the main idea and using supporting details to draw conclusions
  • Answer Keys
  • Common Core State Standards
  • Many Additional Links and Resources
  • Built for Grades 5-6 but can be adapted for other grade levels.

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Description

Our interactive Main Idea Lesson Plan develops reading comprehension and critical thinking skills.  A foundational skill required for all in depth analysis of literature and expository text, identifying the main idea is a critical skill that students will use throughout their academic and professional careers as readers. This lesson prepares students to accurately identify the main idea and to utilize supporting details to a draw conclusion, which impact both reading comprehension and written expression.

Sample Classroom Procedure / Teacher Instruction

1. Group students into four groups around desks or in corners of the room. Each group should secretly look through the main idea bag they have in front of them to try to determine the main idea. If you can procure the suggested items, feel free to use pictures of suggested items, or create bags of your own with preferred items. Suggested bags: Exercise bag- small hand weights, jump rope, sweatband, sneakers, exercise book or video. Baby bag- Bottle, baby food, baby toys, baby books, rattle. Baking bag- Measuring spoons, flour, sugar, cake or bread pans, baking cookbook. Pets-Dog
collar, cat toys, small tins of cat or dog food, chewy bone, leash, pet brush, cat or dog book.
2. Have student groups rotate to each bag without informing the others what the bag contains. After all students have seen the contents of all bags, bring the bags up front and have the students sit around them. Dump the contents out one bag at a time. Have the students state what they believe the main idea of each bag is based on the contents. Explain that the items in the bag are clues, or “supporting details” to the main idea itself.
3. Have students watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ox54tmqHYQ8
4. After viewing the video, ask if students can give examples of main idea from the song itself. Some examples would be: The main idea is the hand idea, not the finger idea, the solar system not the planet idea. Discuss as a class that fingers are parts that make up the hand, planets are parts that make up the solar system. In this way, we learn that parts that make up the whole are clues and supporting details for the main idea.
5. Have students turn to a partner and discuss what are some ways they can identify main idea when reading. After they brainstorm in pairs, share out as a whole class and create this helpful anchor chart:

Find the Main Idea
Before Reading:
Read the title
Ask yourself: Can you guess what it is about?
During Reading:
Ask yourself: Is it fiction or nonfiction? The main idea will be related to the topic/
genre.
Look for repeated words and phrases.
After Reading:
Ask yourself: What was the story mostly about?
What details support one major idea? (These are the supporting details!)

6. Read the sample passage “A Man Who Loved All Creatures”. Students will work as a whole group after reading to complete a main idea chart using the format of the anchor chart
7. Have students complete activity sheet one with the literary passage included on the sheet with a partner.
8. Have students complete activity sheet two using a literary text of their choice and identify the main idea and supporting details. Check this by conferencing with students with a copy of the text they chose.
9. Ensure that students have an appropriate nonfiction text and complete the practice page to identify main idea and details.
10. Assign the homework sheet which instructs students to create their own main idea bags. They can draw or print pictures of the objects they want to use if they cannot bring in the physical items.

Common Core State Standards: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1, CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.5.2, CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.6.1

Class Sessions (45 minutes):

Additional Resources:

Want more reading resources?  Check out our other Reading Lesson Plans!

Additional information

Grade Level

5th Grade, 6th Grade

Subject

Reading