Main Idea Mysteries

A few weeks ago we finished up our study of main idea, so I thought I’d share with you a few of our favorite activities and lessons that went on during our unit!

To introduce main idea, my students became DETECTIVES. Let me just tell you how thrilled they were. We even pulled out the magnifying glasses. Were they necessary? No. Did it result in increased student engagement? Yes.

To prep our very first lesson, I put picture clues into mystery envelopes. Each envelope contained four cards with a common theme (space, birthdays, fishing, etc). Students worked in small groups of 3-4, pulled out each clue card, and determined the “Main Idea” of each envelope.

My kiddos loved figuring out the main idea of each envelope. I encouraged them to work very quietly so that the other tables of detectives wouldn’t hear them, too. They recorded their findings on a worksheet, where they wrote the four clues and what their group had decided was the main idea.

After introducing main idea, we focused on reading ONE paragraph and determining the main idea and key details. You can grab a freebie of this activity to try from my Free Resource Library! To practice, we used this paragraph building activity. To prep this activity, I cut apart four sentences and mixed them up in an envelope. Each group of students had to put the sentences in order, making sure that the main idea was the first sentence and the key details came after.

This activity was fantastic for my students to practice main idea. As I was walking around, we had great conversations when I’d ask them which sentence was the main idea. Once they had gotten around to completing all of the envelopes, they were truly getting that the main idea tells you what the text is mostly about and the key details SUPPORT the main idea.

These are just a few of the hands-on activities we completed, but there are many more included in my full Main Idea Mysteries unit!

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