Use these main idea & details activities during your small group instruction to help students during small group instruction.
We have had some requests for specific skill activities that are more hands-on in nature to be used during small guided reading groups. This set of resources focuses on helping students to understand the concept of a main idea & details in writing. The activities vary in difficulty – some involving pictures or objects and others requiring more reading of your students. Depending upon the struggles you see your students having with this concept, you may want to use different activities to address the various levels in your class.
Main Idea & Details Baggies – This idea will help students who don’t yet understand the concept of main idea and details. It is very concrete in nature and will help students to begin to understand how details support a main idea. It could most definitely be used as an initial whole group mini-lesson to familiarize your students with main idea and details, but we also suggest using it in your small guided reading groups of students who still need more support. For this activity, you will place 3 or 4 actual ojects in a bag. Students will pull the objects out of the bag one by one and try to determine what “main idea” they support. For example, you might put a spoon, a bowl, a small box of cereal, and a small carton of milk in a bag. Students can then be guided to understand that the main idea would be breakfast. Be sure to discuss how all of the items support the bigger concept of breakfast, just as details in writing all should support a bigger main idea. Some other ideas for baggies could be:
Main Idea – Healthy Teeth: toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, fluoride rinse, appointment card for dentist visit
Main Idea – Healthy Body: fruit, vegetable, running shoes, a jump rope, bottle of water, vitamins
Main Idea – Patriotism/America: small American flag, a U.S. dollar, an eagle, Uncle Sam picture or hat, presidential seal, sparkler
Main Idea – Farming: small toy tractor, packet of seeds, animal figures (cow, pig, horse), picture of (or small toy) barn
Main Idea – Sewing: small jar of buttons, spool of thread, picture of a sewing machine, packet of needles, sock with a hole in it
Main Idea – Doctor: stethoscope, picture of a lab coat, otoscope, empty prescription bottle, medicine syringe
Main Idea Puzzles – These puzzles can also be used as an introduction to the concept of main idea or for your students who are still struggling with understanding of the concept. Print, laminate and cut apart each puzzle and then mix all of the puzzle pieces together (or perhaps only two depending on the students). Students will need to pull out the main idea circles and then read the details to figure out which main idea each goes with. The first set contains a word for the main idea and pictures that support the word. The second set contains no pictures and the reading difficulty increases with each puzzle. Each set contains the pages in color first, with black & white versions at the end.
Main Idea Mats – This set of 6 mats give students a main idea at the top and then they are to draw or write details that would support that main idea.
Sequencing in Paragraphs – For this activity, cut the sentences for each paragraph apart and put them in an envelope. Students will read the sentences and determine which is the main idea, then they place the detail sentences in a logical order underneath the main idea on the work mats provided.
Find the Main Idea Cards – This is a set of 12 paragraph cards. Students read the paragraph and then use a Vis-a-Vis or dry erase marker to underline the main idea sentence. You might also have them number or star each detail sentence.
Main Idea Graphic Organizers – This set of organizers can be printed, laminated and used with any book that you are reading in your guided small group.
You will find our complete small group toolkit collection here: Small Group Toolkit
Special thanks to Glitter Meets Glue for the super cute backgrounds!