When teaching upper elementary students about main idea, we often stick with the same questions over and over again. What is the main idea of the passage? What details from the passage support the main idea?
While these are good questions that students need to know how to answer, there are many other aspects to main idea that students need to consider. Asking a variety of questions and encouraging higher order thinking can help your students better understand main idea and details.
Below are 36 questions to help you as you are teaching main idea to your 3rd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade students. The questions are organized based on the Revised Bloom's Taxonomy - there are 6 questions for each category. You can download a free printable of these questions at the bottom of this post.
Questions for Teaching Main Idea and Details
- Identify 3 details from the passage.
- What is the definition of main idea?
- What is the definition of a detail?
- How do you determine the main idea of a passage?
- What is a topic?
- Is the main idea of a story usually stated directly in a passage?
- Which of the following statements could be a main idea for the passage? .....
- What details in this story support the main idea?
- What details in this story do not support the main idea?
- What is the difference between the topic of the passage and the main idea of the passage?
- How are the main idea of a passage and details from the same passage different?
- Explain how you determined the main idea of this passage.
- What is the main idea of the passage/paragraph?
- Predict the main idea of this section based on the title/heading.
- Predict what details could be included in this passage based on the title/heading.
- What illustrations or photographs could be added to reinforce the main idea of this passage?
- What do you think the author wanted you to learn from this and how does it relate to the main idea?
- How does the main idea of this passage compare to the main idea of another passage on a similar topic?
- What detail could be added to this paragraph to reinforce the main idea?
- How are the main idea and title of this passage related?
- Which headings, pictures, or repeated words were most helpful in determining the main idea of the passage? Why?
- How is the main idea of this paragraph related to the main idea of the entire passage?
- What details from the passage helped you determine the main idea?
- How might the author's intended message change if the details did not support the main idea?
- Was the main idea of the story directly stated or was it implied? How do you know?
- Do you agree with the main idea of this passage? Why or why not?
- Rank the details in order from most supportive of the main idea to least supportive.
- What other details could the author have included to make the main more clear?
- What details should the author have excluded from the passage so that the main idea was more clear?
- Compare 2 paragraphs from the same passage. Evaluate which paragraph had the most clear main idea and defend your answer.
- Which details confused you? Which details helped you? Why?
- Write a paragraph that includes at least 3 details that support the main idea ______.
- Plan out the title and headings for a story/passage that has the main idea ______.
- Create a list of details that would support the main idea ______. Create another list of details that would not support this same main idea.
- Rewrite the paragraph so that it has the main idea ______.
- Draw two pictures, one that shows a detail from the passage, and another that shows the main idea of the passage.
- Create a poster/anchor chart that could teach another student about main idea and details.
- Add 3 new details to the passage/story that support the main idea.
Download these questions as a printable pdf using the link below.
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