In this set of activities adaptable for grades K-3, parents and educators will find ideas for teaching about finding the main idea of a paragraph, story or other reading passage. These activities are designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. Main Idea topic page, which includes a movie, quizzes, online games, printable activities, and more.
Classroom Activities for Teaching Main Idea
What’s the Big Idea?
Have students bring in magazine articles from children’s magazines. Have small groups work together and swap articles. Have them use a main ideas chart to find the main idea and supporting details. Small groups can pick an article and make a presentation to the class.
Give a Hand
Have students trace their hands and use it to write a short paragraph about their hands. The main idea/topic sentence can go in the palm. Some, or all, of the fingers can contain the supporting details. Make sure students write sentences that support their main idea. Display the hands around the classroom so students can look at each others’ work.
Main Idea Mobile
Have students make a paragraph mobile. They can write a topic sentence on a large piece of construction paper, foam block, or cardboard canister. Then they can write supporting details on smaller pieces and dangle them from the main idea. You may wish to have a list of suggested topics or have students research on their own. Have each student make a presentation of their mobile in front of the class. Then display the mobiles in the classroom so students can share their work.
Family and Homeschool Activities for Teaching Main Idea
Main Idea Movie
Watch a movie or television show with your child. Explain that the main idea of a piece of writing can also apply to movies and television shows. Together, come up with the main idea of the show. Encourage your child to think of details or scenes in the movie that support the main idea.
Take turns reading a fairy tale together, such as “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” or “Billy Goats Gruff.” Encourage your child to use expression and intonation as he or she reads. Explain that the main idea of a fairy tale is most often the moral or theme of the story. What is the lesson taught in the fairy tale? What details help support the main idea?
Give the Gift of a Main Idea
Children’s comprehension can be aided when they write about things they know. Have your child choose one person in their family and help them come up with a main idea about that person. For example, “Grandma is the best cook!” Then help them think details that support their main idea. For example, “Grandma always makes me a special breakfast when I sleep over” and “Grandma puts chocolate chips in her oatmeal cookies.” Help your child put their main idea on the front of a card and the details on the inside.