What's the Big Idea? Main Ideas & Storyboarding

Contributor: Allison Crews. Lesson ID: 13443

Starting an essay can sometimes be the hardest part of writing! By utilizing the storyboarding method of prewriting, you'll be able to organize your thoughts before you start writing.



English / Language Arts
learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

  • What is the main idea of the comic below?

comic strip

The main idea is that the woman pictured has won a prize.

The main idea is the most important part of a story or essay. It is the part that all the details in the story or essay relate to in some way.

In this lesson, you'll learn the storyboard method of prewriting and practice this skill by developing main ideas.

Main Idea Defined

First, it helps to identify the topic. Topic is who or what the piece of writing is about. The main idea is the most important idea or part of the piece of writing.

main idea concept

Main ideas are expressed in a single sentence in the introductory paragraph, otherwise known as a thesis. You select your details to support your thesis once you know what your main idea is.

In the light bulb image above, notice how each section of text is connected back to the light bulb. Just like with circuitry, good writing will always be connected like the different elements are connected to the main idea in the picture.

Main ideas offer your perspective, hypothesis, theory, or idea about something. You are joining a dialogue about this topic with your reader.

Check out Main Idea - BrainPOP, from Magdalena Chromik, to deepen your understanding:

Identifying Main Ideas

See if you can identify the main idea in the text below:

  Many people in town think Rudy's has the best wings in town. They're an institution in town, and their wings have won Reader's Choice awards in the local newspaper several times over. Though Rudy's has established a strong reputation for themselves, it may be possible that they are resting easy on the previous accolades in recent years. Just over a year ago, Cluckville opened near the central library to rave reviews. Their wings are always crispy and larger than those served at Rudy's, and they have better flavor options to choose from. Cluckville is the gold standard for wings in this town.


  • What is the topic?

The topic of this paragraph is hot wings. You can tell because every sentence in the paragraph relates to hot wings.

  • What is the main idea?

If you said the main idea is that Cluckville has the best wings in town, great job! All the other sentences in this paragraph relate to where the best wings in town can be located, and the writer argues that Cluckville is the clear winner.

Storyboarding Defined

Storyboarding is a prewriting method that involves making a graphic organizer (a type of visual representation of information) that is arranged in a logical, organized manner.


Storyboarding assembles all the highlights of your essay in a way that is easy to understand and piece together. Once the storyboard is complete, your essay practically writes itself!

Let's take a look at an example of storyboarding:

storyboarding example

You can design storyboards in any way that is functional and makes sense for you. You can include images or text or both like the example above. Find a method that helps you get your thoughts in order, and essay writing will become much easier!

If you're ready to put these skills into practice, let's move on to the Got It? section

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