Main Ideas

Name: Diana Pyatigorsky                                                     

Subject: English Language Arts

Grade: First Grade

Lesson Title: Finding the Main Idea


  • Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
  • Post-its
  • Pencils

Pre-assessment of Student Knowledge: Students have been exposed to fictional texts and are lacking knowledge in identifying the main idea(s) in fictional texts.

Content-Specific Standards:

English Language Arts

  • RL.1.1. Ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
  • RL.1.2. Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.
  • RL.1.3. Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.


Students will be able to find and express the main idea of a story.


Introduction and Motivation:

“Students, today we’re going to read the story Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes. It’s about a little mouse with what name? Does anyone know what a chrysanthemum is? It’s a kind of flower. Do you think that the little mouse likes her name? Would you like to be named Chrysanthemum? Yes? No? Why? Why not? Let’s make a list of nice things about the name Chrysanthemum and not-so-nice things.”

Make a table such as the one below. Invite students to help fill in the table.

Direct Teaching:
“Today, as we read, we are going to be looking for main ideas. A main idea is the most important idea in a story or in part of a story.

Teacher models finding the main idea in a previous read book, A Very Hungry Caterpillar.

“Often, the main idea in a story is one that is repeated several times. As you read the story, you keep seeing or hearing the main idea over and over, again and again. All of the sentences on the board tell the main idea of the story, but in different ways. I want you to be thinking about the main idea of the first part of the story while I read it.”

Read Aloud of Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes while charting statements:

  1. Chrysanthemum loved the way her name looked on an envelope
  2. Chrysanthemum loved the way her name sounded when her mother woke her up.
  3. Chrysanthemum loved the way her name sounded and looked.

As I read, I am always asking myself, “What is the main idea?” “I only look for the most important information.”

“So, the main idea is that Chrysanthemum loves her name. I am going to circle the main idea so that I will remember later.”

Continue read-aloud while charting statements on paper:

  1. All of the students in Chrysanthemum’s class have short names.
  2. The students tease Chrysanthemum about her name and she feels embarrassed.
  3. Victoria picks on Chrysanthemum about her name.

Look back with the students to answer the question, “What is the main idea of this part of the story?”

Circle the main idea statement: “The students tease Chrysanthemum about her name, and she feels embarrassed.” Ask students to explain their thought processes, and why they chose this statement.

Students will individually read their partner-books to find the main idea of the story. They will use sticky notes to mark the main idea. Students will think about what happened on each page and ask themselves, “What is the most important idea?”

Students will then meet with their partner to compare and talk about their answer. They will explain their thinking to their partners, especially if they each chose a different statement.

Closure 10 min: Students will share-out their main idea findings with the class.

Assessment: Teacher will assess understanding during conference time and during the share. Ask follow up questions if students are not confident with their explanations. Students will be assessed for their activity participation, their participation as audience members and their working material. Student project work will be reviewed against the rubric below.

Diversity: This lesson continues the work of opening a window into different modalities of learning such as Collaborative and Flexible grouping, scaffolding, varied time allowance, multiple intelligences, varied demonstrations, simulations, use of visuals.


“A hands-on activity supports students who struggle with verbal skills” (Cornett, 2011). Using visual and tactile skills, students that struggle with writing are able to use the images to show that they understand the content. This lesson also supports concreteness of the topic with the use of pictures, labels and names.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: