Teaching main idea is a skill that needs to be practiced a million times in so many different modalities in order for students to master the skill. It is a tough skill to master for many students and should be taught throughout their whole education. In this post, we are going to talk about how to teach main idea through five simple and easy activities!
Main Idea Cooking
This lesson is SO.MUCH.FUN. for teaching main idea. You can be teaching main idea and supporting details through a simple cooking demonstration.
You give students the recipe for cooking dirt pudding, but you do not give them the title of the recipe. They are to cook the recipe and determine what the recipe is.
Then, you compare this to main idea. The main idea is telling you what the recipe is all about and the supporting details are the ingredients and directions.
There are great discussion points about why the details are important because if you skipped certain ones your recipe wouldn’t turn out.
Plus, this is highly memorable in students’ minds and can be brought up throughout the year when students tend to forget what the skill is.
Teaching Main Idea with Picture Books
I love practicing main idea throughout the week with picture books. Two picture books I always use for teaching main idea are:
Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of The Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate
This is a sweet story about a gorilla that lived in a shopping mall. After we are done, we do this directed drawing and put the main idea and detail within the gorilla’s body!
She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton
A wonderful story about women in our country that persisted through hard times to accomplish something amazing!
EPIC Group Projects
Put students into groups or partners. They can choose a book on EPIC (you can use this collection here) or if you don’t have technology, just allow them to choose a book of their choice. Then, they read the book and determine the main idea and details of the book. They put this on a poster and share it with the class. Simple and effective.
This lesson for teaching main idea is so much fun every year. Before the week of main idea, I send home a note to my parents asking them to write out a family recipe. Each day before starting to teach I will read all the ingredients and directions to a family recipe. The class has to determine what the recipe is (or the main idea).
This is a simple and fun way to bring families into your classroom. You can make a recipe book for students and send it home too!
It is also a great way to begin teaching main idea and supporting details. You can have powerful discussions each day about how to determine the main idea using the details, etc.
Students love doing anything digital nowadays, right?! Here are three ideas for kids to practice main idea and details digitally.
- Digital Slide Deck– this is a great thing to assign to students to practice main idea. They read books, close reads, and more. They also look at videos and anchor charts. The best part for the kiddos is playing the games at the end! I love to assign these for centers for the week to practice (read here how I use these slide decks for centers)
- Main Idea Jeopardy- this is a free and simple game to review main idea and details with your class!
- Main Idea Millionaire– a fun game for kids to play online to practice!
I hope you are able to use some of these activities and strategies for teaching main idea and supporting details!
Do you want a whole week of teaching main idea prepped and ready to go for you?! Small group and whole group lessons?! Head here to check it out!