What's the Main Idea?

Contributor: Danielle Childers. Lesson ID: 10211

Ever have someone say to you, "What's the big idea?" Every story has a big, or main, idea. Using art, fiction and non-fiction stories, games, and graphic organizers, learn how to find the big idea!



learning style
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!


Has anyone ever said to you, "What's the big idea?" The big idea in a story is the main idea.

Look at the picture below. What is going on?

Dae-Kwae-Do, 1846

Image by Hyesan Yu Suk, via Wikimedia Commons, is in the public domain.

You've been looking at a painting from ancient Korea by Hyesan Yu Suk. Point out 5 details of the painting, and from those details, explain what is going on — the main idea of the painting.

The main idea of a story is the big idea that an author wants to convey to the reader.

It is the summary of the plot and tells what the selection is about.

It seems the above picture could be summarized by saying that people are gathered to watch men train in martial arts.

In order to comprehend or understand the story, it is very important to find the main idea.

You can look for different clues to find the main idea of a story, including the title, pictures, and chapter or section headings. Ask yourself, "What do I notice being talked about over and over? What is the story mostly about?"

Watch this short video, Finding the Main Idea, by Karen Hamilton, and as you watch, take notes on how to find the main idea in a piece of text:


When you are finished, continue on to the Got It? section to examine more pictures and play a game or two!

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