Main Idea and Supporting Details

Main idea is a difficult skill to teach. Many capable adults still struggle with finding the main idea of a text, differentiating between main idea and supporting details, and understanding when details from a text support or don't support the main idea.

Below are some ideas and activities to help you as you teach this difficult skill to your 3rd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade students. You will find:

  • ideas for teaching main idea so students actually understand
  • a free main idea slideshow
  • main idea centers
  • main idea questions to include in your lessons
  • a main idea pdf freebie
  • ...and more
Help your upper elementary students (third, fourth, and fifth grade) better understand how to find the main idea of a passage

Find ways to scaffold your main idea instruction so that students truly understand.  This blog post includes a couple of free main idea printables you can use with your class.

A free main idea slideshow to use with your 3rd and 4th grade students to help review main idea and details

A free main idea slideshow to use with you upper elementary students. Includes a variety of different ways to practice determining the main idea and details of a passage.

3 Fun Main Idea and Details Games / Center Ideas for Upper Elementary

3 main idea and details center ideas. These challenge your students to think more critically.

Free main idea worksheet to help 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students (pdf)

This free main idea resource includes 3 activities to help students practice main idea in several different ways.

36 questions to help you teach main idea and supporting students - questions based off of the revised Bloom's Taxonomy to encourage higher order thinking

36 main idea and details questions based on the Revised Bloom's Taxonomy to help you encourage higher level thinking in your upper elementary students.

Use an online word cloud creator like Wordle to provide a visual aid to your main idea lessons.

A main idea lesson that integrates technology and provides students with a visual.

Want meaningful main idea activities without all of the prep?  Check out this Main idea Activities Bundle.

It includes no prep activities, hands on activities, cut and paste activities, graphic organizers, task cards, centers, writing activities, reading passages, and more.


The activities above address the following common core standards for 3rd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade students:

Determine the main idea of a text; recount the key details and explain how they support the main idea.

Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.

Determine two or more main ideas of a text and explain how they are supported by key details; summarize the text.