Main Topic, Main Idea, and Details (An entire week)


Day 1

I’ve always struggled with teaching Main Topic, Main Idea, and Key Details to first graders.  It’s a difficult skill for many of my kiddos to fully grasp.  I realized it’s because most lessons that I found were too difficult.  What I mean by that is most of the reading material I found was too hard.  Many times the main idea wasn’t very obvious and was definitely geared toward older students.

So, here it is- Day 1 of what I created!

The first day I introduced all three concepts:

Main Topic

Main Idea

Key Details

In Kindergarten and First Grade the Common Core State Standards say:

Reading Informational Text:  Identify main topic and retell details of a text.  

To introduce the concept, I created a Power Point Slideshow.  It includes anchor charts and brief simple activities to help students understand the difference between these three concepts.  Here is a peek at some of the slides:

This was we did today!  Just a brief introduction- it took about 15 minutes!  

Day 2

First, I used the Anchor Charts to review what we talked about yesterday.  Then I had 6 pictures hanging around the room or placed around the room.  I talked to the students about what we were doing today.  It went something like this…

“Today, we will be looking at some Main Topics and finding the Details that go with it.  I am going to give you each a detail card.  The card will match one (or more) of the pictures around the room.  Your job is to find the Main Topic that matches your Detail.  Once you think you have found the correct picture, stay there, and make sure once everyone has their pictures there you feel it is correct.  Some pictures could possible fit on more than one card so you may have to discuss possibilities with other students.”

I gave everyone a card (some students got two).  When I walked around and checked to see what they were doing.  I had a group that was having a GREAT conversation.  This is what the picture looked like and they had 5 cards instead of 4 that they thought would fit.

The topic here is SPORTS and there are 4 pictures that have “teams playing” and one student had a basketball hoop.  So, she is valid that the basketball hoop could absolutely go with sports.  However, there is another topic of PLAYGROUND and the basketball hoop would go with that topic better.

When we met back as a whole group, we talked about the Main Topic and Details.  We then went a step further to see if we could figure out the Main Idea.  Here is what they came up with:

Main Topic:  Ocean Animals- Main Idea:  There are different animals that live in the ocean.

Main Topic:  Sports- Main Idea:  Many sports involve teams.

Main Topic:  Arctic Animals- Main Idea:  There are different kinds of animals that live in the Arctic.

Main Topic:  Playground- Main Idea:  There are different things to play with on the playground.

Main Topic:  School- Main Idea:  There are different places/classes at school.

Main Topic:  Beach- Main Idea:  You see different things when you go to the beach.

We followed up with activity with a cut and glue short informational writing.  We read the sentences together and then found the Main Topic, Main Idea, and Key Details together.

Can’t wait until tomorrow!  We are going to play a fun game!

Day 3

Seriously, today was a BLAST!  I made up a game to help kids practice Main Topic and Key Details.  We used the headbands from the game “Headbands” but we played it in a completely different way.  Here’s how it went:

We had 4 different groups with 4-5 students in each group.  One student doesn’t look and puts the card in the headband.  You could also just have them hold it on their head or even just put it on their neck so that they can’t see it.  

**I fixed the cards in the product so the words are at the top.

The student to the left starts and tells a detail about the topic.  I had everyone first tell if it was a person, place, thing, or animal.  Then the person with the card could make one guess.  Then the next person would give another clue.  For example, you are an animal with four legs.  I let them guess after each detail and then if they couldn’t get it after 5 guesses they were finished with that card.  If they guessed it within 5, the “team” got to keep the card.  If they didn’t, the card went into another pile.  We played for awhile and then saw which “team” got the most correct.  

They couldn’t get enough- we played before recess and they seriously wanted to stay inside and keep playing.  So we played again later in the day.

A couple of things:  

1.  In the product, I included some Sample Clue cards to help students get ideas of what they could say.  I would suggest to go over the suggestions whole group and encourage the students to use them ONLY if they need to.  Otherwise, they were too dependent on them.

2.  I printed the pictures on card stock and laminated them.  I could still see through them (a little) when they were in the stack.  So, we just grabbed from the bottom of the stack instead of the top.

Tomorrow we will be reading a text about Elephants.  We will be finding the Main Topic, Main Idea, and Key Details!

Days 4 and 5

We have now finished Day 4 and Day 5.  We had indoor recess yesterday because it was raining and the kids asked if they could play What’s the Topic?  game from yesterday!  Seriously… it happened and of course my answer was “ABSOLUTELY!”

The past two days we read some non-fiction books.  I wrote a book about Elephants and one about Baby Penguins.

The first day we read about Elephants.  I made three different books at three different levels.  My lowest group I had read the book with me while my other groups were reading together.  I ended up having 5 different groups.  Low- 4 students, Middle- 7 students, and High- 7 students.  

I had them read with their group and discuss what they thought the Main Topic and Main Idea were in their book.  Then they were to locate some details.  After giving them a few minutes to read and discuss then I gave them the recording page.  We discussed what the Main Topic was in our book (Elephants).  They wrote this on their recording page.  Then we talked about how the Main Idea was the first page of their book.  Each group wrote their sentence onto their recording page.  Then we discussed that everything after that were the details.  They could choose two different details from their text to write about.

On day 5, we did the same thing with our Baby Penguins book as we did our Elephants book!

With this product, I included some additional activities that could be used for to supplement your lessons OR they could also be used as an assessment.

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