I don’t know very many teachers who actually LIKE teaching main idea. It’s such a difficult, abstract, and BORING concept to teach. It seems like either kids get it or they don’t – and more often than not they don’t.
Because students are usually confused when finding the main idea and supporting details of a passage, it can be difficult to create main idea centers that students can complete independently and at the same time complete successfully.
Below are some (hopefully helpful) ideas to use as main idea centers in your classroom. You can create any of these activities on your own, but if you would like to save some time you can purchase these Main Idea Centers Here.
Main Idea Center #1: Main Idea and Details Mazes
I’ve found that students can identify details from a passage fairly easily. However, it is much harder for students to identify which details from a passage support the main idea, and which details DON’T. These main idea mazes are a fun way for students to practice that skill.
Students are given a main idea. In order to find their way through the maze, the students must shade in the details that support the main idea – and leave the details that DON’T support the main idea blank.
Many of the details I have provided are on topic, but do NOT support the main idea. This forces students to think more critically about what the main idea actually states.
Main Idea Center #2: Matching Game
Simpler is always better. That might not be true for everything in life, but it’s my motto for games in the classroom. If I’m wanting students to play a game with a partner with minimal supervision, the game and the rules have to be clear and simple. That’s why the matching game (also called Concentration) is a common game in classrooms.
My Main Idea Matching Game requires students to match a main idea with the correct paragraph. Students turn over 2 cards (a paragraph card that’s in one color, and a main idea card that’s in another color), and try to match them up. Simple yet valuable.
The game I created has several paragraphs on similar topics. This makes the main idea less obvious to students, requiring them to think about the entire paragraph before matching it up with the main idea.
Main Idea Center #3: Main Idea and Details Sort
Another game with clear and simple instructions – students must match up the details with the correct main ideas.
In the game I created, all of the main ideas are on the topic of ears – the parts of an ear, how to protect your ears, etc. Students lay out the main ideas, and then match the 12 details to the correct main ideas.
Because all of the main ideas have the same topic, students have to actually consider why a certain detail supports a certain main idea.
I believe accountability is essential whenever having students work in centers, so all of these center ideas also come with a recording sheet to help teachers understand their students’ thinking.
Quality centers that really get students thinking critically require a lot of preparation and time. Save yourself that time by buying my Main Idea Centers product!
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