Main Idea Mini Lessons

It doesn’t matter what grade you teach, main idea is always on your lesson plans sometime in the year.  This reading skill is important as it helps students take important facts or events from a text, summarize them, and understand the author’s most important message.  But teaching main idea can be hard and many students aren’t successful at this skill right away.  One problem is that teachers can only think of certain ways to break down and teach the skill and then run out of ideas.  I’ve got you covered!  I’m sharing 5 main idea mini lessons just for you!

main idea

Mini-lessons are a great way to teach reading skills just like main idea.  You can also use these tips and tricks or mentor texts too!  Make sure to check them out!

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Main Idea Mini Lesson #1

Objective:  I can match the pieces of an article based on its main idea.

One great thing about teaching main idea, is that it is helpful not only in reading but also in writing. This little mini lesson supports both! Create two article titles, two article headings, and 3-4 facts to go under each heading. Write each of them separately on sentence strips or index cards. Mix them up and place on the front board. Read through all of them with students and then guide the students to unmix them and match up the title, heading, and facts or each ‘article’. While doing this, discuss main idea and supporting details and how by matching the pieces they were finding commonalities amongst the text.

Main Idea Mini Lesson #2

Objective:  I can determine the main idea of a puzzle based on the details of its pieces.

Sometimes, making main idea click for students is as simple as finding a way to make it concrete. Take a puzzle for instance. We can think of the individual pieces as details and the main overall image in the puzzle as the main idea. For this mini lesson, that’s exactly what we are going to do! Go through puzzles that you have at home or in your classroom. Pick out 2-3 pieces per puzzle that show a good amount of detail on the individual pieces. Then with your students, discuss the commonality between main idea and puzzles. Show the students one of the puzzle pieces and have them brainstorm or draw out what they think the rest of the puzzle would be. Discuss details vs. main idea while students share their examples.

Want to snag a printable copy of all of these main idea mini lessons?  Grab it for FREE below!

main idea mini lessons

Main Idea Mini Lesson #3

Objective:  I can create a main idea statement from the details in a photograph.

By allowing students to do more creating than reading when working with main idea, they pick up on the relationship a lot easier and faster. In this mini lesson you’re going to use photographs to allow students to create main idea statements and supporting details. Find photographs off Google to print. The photographs need to be about experiences and situations the students can relate to. Then have the students work in pairs or groups to create 3 detailed statements first. Share these out loud with the group and discuss. Then as a group create a main idea statement to overarch the details the students created. Repeat with 1-2 more photos.

Main Idea Mini Lesson #4

Objective:  I can identify supporting details in a nonfiction text.

Many times, students become overwhelmed with identifying details because there are so many sentences in the text to choose from. We need to provide a lesson that shows them how to analyze each sentence one at a time. In this mini lesson, find a nonfiction article that’s 1-2 paragraphs in length. Read the article together as a class. Together, identify the main idea of the text and write it on the front board. Then lead the class in finding supporting details for the main idea. Reread each sentence one at a time and stop to discuss it. Does this support the main idea? Why or why not? By doing this sentence by sentence it gives the students the opportunity to truly see HOW we analyze all the details and determine which support, and which do not. Cross out the non-supporting details and highlight the supporting ones.

Need MORE than just mini lesson ideas or don’t have time to create the lessons yourself?  I’ve got you covered!  Check out my entire Main Idea unit filled with full whole group lessons, exit tickets, assessment, reading center, craft, and more! Click the button below to check it out!

main idea printables

Grab the Main Idea Unit

Main Idea Mini Lesson #5

Objective:  I can write out the main idea of a fiction and nonfiction text

Students sometimes comprehend a story very well but putting the main idea into words is challenging. A strong and simple way to support students like this is to give them sentence stems! A simple nonfiction and fiction sentence stem helps the student think through the text they read and put their thoughts into the blanks. By using the sentence stems over a period, they will have the gist of how to word a main idea statement and won’t need them anymore! In this mini lesson, have 2 fiction paragraphs and 2 nonfiction paragraphs ready. Write the sentence stems on the board: (Fiction) The story is about (character) who (details) and then (detail). (Nonfiction) The main idea is about how/who (detail). Practicing using the stems after reading the texts to create main idea statements.

I hope you found some new and unique ideas to help teach main idea to your students.  If you want to save this post for later, make sure to pin the image below!

main idea mini lessons


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I’m a wife, a mommy of 3, blogger, and a full time teacher author and presenter. I love to read, shop, and spend time with my family! My hands are always busy, but my heart is so full!

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