Main Idea Worksheets & Ideas

main idea worksheets

Main idea worksheets and activities don’t have to be boring and full or rote learning. This challenging concept is often difficult for students to understand, so they need meaningful lessons. Over the years, I’ve learned that my main idea worksheets and activities need to be highly scaffolded in order for students to grasp this tricky skill. All of these main idea lessons in this post are included in my Reading Unit 2. However, even without the units, you’ll find these ideas valuable within this post.

Main Idea – Day 1

I introduce the idea of main idea and supporting details with an anchor chart. You can create your chart with students and use this as a guide, or you can print this anchor chart as a poster.

Main idea worksheets

You can use the BrainPop Main Idea movie to reinforce the idea of main idea. After the movie, be sure to discuss main idea. Then, show students how to complete the main idea worksheet through an idea web. In one version, the main idea is filled in. Ex: exercise is important for your health. Model how to fill in supporting details for the main idea. Then, reverse the lesson and fill in supporting details on the Main Idea worksheet and have students determine the main idea from the details.

main idea worksheets

This helps students focus their thoughts on main idea and supporting details. This graphic organizer is also great for writing workshop.

Main Idea Worksheets – Day 2

As you teach main idea, you’ll notice that the lessons tie in perfectly with your writing lessons. For example, in the main idea worksheet from the second lesson, students eliminate extraneous information. I explain that if there are details in the paragraph that don’t support the main idea, those details are in the wrong place. I have students practice finding extraneous information in a paragraph, which allows them to think about the relationship between supporting details and main idea.

Main idea workhseets

Main Idea Worksheets – Day 3

Before having students identify the main idea in whole books or large passages, I start with short pieces of texts. In fact, many texts and longer passages have multiple main ideas or sections, and that can be overwhelming for students. I like to start small and work our way up with these main idea worksheets.

Main idea worksheets

This will likely not be a one and done lesson. I’ve provided a variety of practice pages in this same format, which will allow you to give students additional support and practice as needed. If you don’t feel like your students are ready to move to the next lesson, it’s perfectly fine to keep them here for a couple extra days.

Main Idea – Day 4

Sometimes it can be a bit tricky to find the main idea in a long text. Most longer texts do have more than one main idea. I explain to students when they find the main idea or ideas of a passage, it’s often beneficial to look at each paragraph, because good writers organize similar information into paragraphs. To illustrate this, I provide students with a reading passage with clear main ideas in each paragraph. Students then find the main idea and supporting details in each paragraph.

main idea wokrhseets

Once again, students may need to camp out on this lesson for a bit. I don’t like to move forward until I feel like my students have a solid understanding of multiple main ideas. At this point in the year, I don’t require students to identify the main idea in entire nonfiction books, because there are times when the main idea isn’t quite clear.

Main Idea Worksheets & Activities – Day 5

I like to conclude these lessons by changing students role from reader to author. I have students complete a main idea graphic organizer. You may either let students choose their own topic, or you may assign a topic. Then, students write a paragraph about that topic that has a CLEAR main idea. You can download the graphic organizer for free here! It’s definitely a twist to a traditional main idea worksheets.

main idea worksheets

I hope you were able to find some new ideas for teaching main idea and supporting details with these main idea worksheets! With the right amount of scaffolding and practice, students can grasp this challenging skill. To learn more about teaching reading to upper elementary students be sure to check out this post.

7 thoughts on “Main Idea Worksheets & Ideas”

  1. Hi there,
    I was looking for just the main idea portion of your unit 2 packet. Is there any way just to get that piece for a lower price? I clicked on the teachers pay teachers and it includes more than I need.

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