Another teacher gave me this line to use to introduce main idea: I tell the students that there is a teacher at school that always talks too much. Every time she tells me a story she goes on and on. Then I ask them if they know anyone like this. I say that I finally have to tell that teacher to get to the main idea. I ask her "What is your story mostly about? Get to the point." Of course the kids always try to find out which teacher it is that talks to much. But usually they get the lesson.
I have a writing with the main idea organizer. I'll attach it. You put the main idea of each paragraph in the box, then the details go on the lines. I always tell my kids that the main idea can tell a story by itself but the details make it more interesting.
When I teach it for reading, I always ask them what is the point the author is tryting to tell you. What is the whole paragraph "mainly" about?
I got this from another teacher at my school. When she first introduces main idea and details, she brings a gym bag filled with items you would find in a gym bag (i.e. tennis shoes, basketball, gym shorts, water bottle, etc.) and one miss fit item. Then she talks about what the "big idea" is - things you would take to a gym. They then list all the "details" (or items that belong) that help us know the main idea. The miss-fit item helps lead into writing paragraphs and knowing what does and doesn't belong in a certain paragraph. After the kids have the visual they usually do better when they are presented with main idea in text. It gives them something to refer back to.
I work with struggling 3rd grade readers so visuals work well. Take a bunch of objects that relate to each other somehow and put them out for students to analyze. Also have a few that don't belong mixed in. Ask them to decide what the group of objects is mostly used for/ have in common. Explain that even though some items don't fit that topic, that is the main theme of the items. Good visual image.
Could also do this idea with a collage of pictures.
Also, I use the idea of a table as a graphic organizer for my kids. The top of the table holds everything together (main idea). The legs are important because they give supporting details that hold the main idea together. But all 4 legs (details) work together to hold the tabletop up (main idea).
take advantage of google image <
Think of something that like a garden and then look up all the pictures or images that might relate this is a good activator>
Print out some pictures that are not related for the children to pull out! Post on paper this is a good way to start without crazy worksheets<
I used the book, "Alexander had a terrible, no good, very bad day" to teach main idea. As I read, I had the students take notes of the details on post-its. After I read, we discussed what the main idea was (Alexander had a really bad day) and the details that the kids collected as I read. We also dicussed how the main idea was different from the topic (Alexander).
Don't laugh. Today, I drew a large umbrella with four large raindrops underneath it. I checked out some "basic" non-fiction books such as "We need Water" and "What do Dentists Do?" I read one of the books out loud. Then, I explained to the children that the book is filled with many details but "What is the main idea of this book?" Then, I wrote what they said the main idea was on the umbrella. I then asked them to tell me details they remembered from the story (there was one fact on each page, so it made it easy for them to recall one thing). I wrote those details on the raindrops. I told them that the Main Idea is the big picture of what the story is about and we all stretched our arms (crossed over our chests and fanned up and outward like the shape of an umbrella). The main idea covers all of the details in one simple sentence. The raindrops are what falls off of the umbrella. It sounds crazy....but they got it! Sometimes we are asking them to read something long and then come up with the main idea. If you start small and put it in simple terms, sometimes it helps your visual learners. Hope this helps!
A great thing to use is Norman Rockwell's paintings. I have a poster with the words Who/What and then below it is has Has, Is, and Did. if the students can answer those questions the have the main idea. Then show how they can do the some thing with a reading selection