Fun Ways to Teach Main Idea and Key Details

I've been teaching a long time, but one thing that hasn't changed is how difficult it is for my students to find the main idea of a given text. So over the years, I have searched and searched for fun ways to teach main idea and key details. Everything I found was so overused and outdated, so I decided to come up with my own idea. And you can do it too... all you need is a jigsaw puzzle! I'm explaining in detail the 5 steps I use to teach main idea and key details with my students.
Fun-Ways-to-Teach-Main-Idea-and-Key-Details

1. The Mini-Lesson

Using a puzzle, place one piece down at a time asking the students what they see. Continue putting a piece down at a time while the students tell you or their neighbors more and more "details" that are being added. When the puzzle is complete, describe the puzzle as a whole picture. Explain that this is how main idea and key details work. The details in the puzzle support the big picture just like the details in the text support the main idea. Students can complete a graphic organizer as guided practice.
Fun-Ways-to-Teach-Main-Idea-and-Key-Details

2. Center Activity

Students will complete a similar activity structure at a reading center as they put together a puzzle and discuss the details of the puzzle and the main idea once the puzzle is complete. They will complete the same graphic organizer from the mini-lesson with the new puzzle. They will then read a piece of text (student- or teacher-chosen) and complete the same graphic organizer using the informational text to practice main idea and key details.
Fun-Ways-to-Teach-Main-Idea-and-Key-Details

3. Independent Practice

Students will use interactive notebook pages (or folded booklets if notebooks aren't used) to practice main idea and key details with scaffolding. I usually provide three different levels of the same activity and differentiate based on student needs.
Fun-Ways-to-Teach-Main-Idea-and-Key-Details
 I also make sure to provide both main idea or central idea wording based on the verbiage of state/district ELA standards.
Fun-Ways-to-Teach-Main-Idea-and-Key-Details

4. Writing Task

Students will complete an open-ended written response to a text to demonstrate their understanding of main idea and key details. This can be used in a center, as test prep, in an exit slip, or even as homework. This is a great way to practice for those pesky standardized tests!
Fun-Ways-to-Teach-Main-Idea-and-Key-Details

5. Assessment 

Finally, the students complete a cold read and a formative assessment over main idea and key details using that cold read. I differentiate the text at three different levels, but it's used to give me a good idea of where my students are in regards to mastery of the standard. I always include a high-interest text that lends itself well to determining the main idea and key details. This helps me plan my next steps as far as my instruction goes. It's also great for standards-based grading!
Fun-Ways-to-Teach-Main-Idea-and-Key-Details

Interested in these fun ways to teach main idea and key details in your own classroom?

If so, you can take any of these ideas and use them in your own classroom absolutely free! On the other hand, if you would like to have all of these resources put together in a nice, neat package for you to just print and use in your classroom tomorrow, I have done all the hard work for you and listed it in my TeachersPayTeachers store HERE. Everything you see in this blog post (and more!) is included in this fun resource!
Fun-Ways-to-Teach-Main-Idea-and-Key-Details
I hope you enjoyed this blog post and found it helpful. You might also enjoy THIS POST all about formative assessment in reading with graphic organizers. Feel free to share this post with your teacher friends on social media or pin to Pinterest so we can all benefit from these fun ways to teach main idea and key details in our classrooms. Happy Teaching!

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Fun-Ways-to-Teach-Main-Idea-and-Key-Details

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