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Archive for the ‘Unit 1.5 Get The Egg’ Category

postheadericon Teaching Main Idea- A quick and easy teacher table activity


We just taught Main Idea in the First Grade as part of our Reading Street Program. 

Today, I chose to use word cards to teach this lesson. I chose "Pilgrims" and "Mayflower."  We have been reading and talking about the Pilgrims and how they came to the New World, so I thought it would be fun to use these words today. 

I asked the students about the Pilgrims and about the Mayflower. Could we make a sentence using both words? They all agreed that the words went together well because the Pilgrims sailed to the New World on the Mayflower. 


I downloaded these word cards from CLICK HERE to get these cards for FREE!

So, on my pocket chart, I had the words "Main Idea" and I had the word "Detail."

I had explained at my teacher table the day before that main idea is what the story is mostly about and the details are small pieces of information that supports the main idea. 

The students agreed that Pilgrims were the main idea and Mayflower was a detail. 

So, I had a student help me place the words under the correct category. This is what is looked like in my pocket chart:

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Now, that we had the main idea and detail, we were ready to write a sentence using our two word cards. 

I aksed the students to verbally create a sentence using the two words. My students easily told me "The Pilgrims sailed on the Mayflower." Yes, they are correct!

I gave each student a piece of writing paper and I wrote the sentence on the board. The students copied the sentence onto their paper. I asked the students to underline the main idea. They knew to underline "Pilgrims." I told them they were all correct. Why is the main idea Pilgrims? "It's what the sentence is about!" I have them put a MI (main idea) on top of "Pilgrims." I also explained this was the suject of their sentence. 

So, now we move onto the detail… sailed on the Mayflower is a detail about the Pilgrims. They all underline that detail. I have them put a D for detail on top of their words. We talk about how this is the predicate of their sentence. It gives us information about the subject. 

I go onto explain the Main Idea is the subject in a sentence and the detail is the predicate in their sentence. Writing is as easy as that! 

When we were done, their work looked like this: 

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We had a few minutes left, so I put the students in partners and gave each pair of students two word cards to put together. They practiced main idea and detail by creating sentences with their partners. They thought it was fun and asked me to make more word cards for them to "play" with. Anytime! I love when kids want to "play" with words! 

They will see these "fun" word cards again next week in their independent center! 


postheadericon Teaching Topic and Main Idea

 Teaching main idea in first grade can seem daunting.  My team begins this at the end of the fall semester and builds upon it throughout the school year.  I do a lot of whole group modeling.

      I like to begin by introducing the word topic using a hands on whole group approach. Our introduction lesson begins with a display of 3 lunch bags.  Inside each bag is an assortment of items.  Each bag contains items that will be used to group into a topic.  For example, in bag #1 I include a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, paper cup and mouthwash.  Students will come up one by one and select an item from the bag.  They will place it on a table for all to see.  Once all items are out of the bag, we will try to figure out what the topic is.  After some discussion, students should agree on the topic being "Teeth." Bag #2 includes items on the topic of "Weather" and bag #3 is the topic "Cakes."  As I continue with topic, students have opportunities to practice guessing more topics and also sorting  items into groups to create a topic.  Some topics I have used in the past include; recess, beach, birthday, pets, lunch, tools and soccer.


      Once students are comfortable with identifying topics, we then move on to the word Main Idea. Teaching main idea is vital to reading comprehension and writing.  At the first grade level (or any level for that matter), it is very important to make it tangible, something that they will remember.   Main Idea takes the topic or story and requires students to tell you why, what is the reason for this topic/story.

      A few years back, I found a cute early elementary lesson that worked well for me.  This is how I adapted it to work in first grade.  I begin by doing a lesson using the topic of birthday (depending on the group of student's I have that year).  I draw two  squares on the board (or chart paper).  One square says Birthday the other square says Not Birthday. As a class, we sort pictures into the two squares. This is very similar to the center work the students did in the topic lesson.

In a later lesson, we play Guess the Main Idea. I display the same square uses above.  This time I include the pictures but not the main idea.  Students will work with their "rug buddy" to come up with the main idea of each square.  For continued practice, I release this into a writing center.

First, I have the students place the pictures around the main idea box


Then, they find the main idea..


Below is the activity I created using a bunch of Google images.

Main Idea


We are now ready to take our familiar topics and turn them into main ideas.  I take one of the familiar topics and use a flow chart to get from the topic to the main idea.  Again, it's first grade, everything is done in steps and I stay on each step as long as it takes the majority of the class to be able to do it with little or no teacher assistance.  Sometimes it does take time, but I don't expect all of them to be able to write a paragraph or develop a story if I don't go through this process first.

Here is an example of a flow chart I put on chart paper:


We do a bunch of these over the course of the week until I see that they are ready to move on.


I wrap up this part of main idea by reading the story Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin, Pie as a read aloud. We discuss what the topic is (pumpkin).  Then I ask what does the author want us to know about pumpkins (main idea) the life cycle of the pumpkin.



Thanks for sticking around until the end, I know it was a long post.  I will post more on main idea next time.  I will let you know how I take students to the next level by adding details to the flow chart.


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