Hey there friends,
It’s officially fall and my favorite time of the year. So with leaves and cooler weather on my mind, I decided to give some festive flair to some much-needed explicit instruction on teaching topic vs main idea.
Teaching topic vs main idea comes up so much as our year progresses and I would find myself giving mini-lessons on the spot when it came up. The following resources will help build that foundation ahead of time and support our nuggets as they work through writing with topic sentences and ideas.
I decided to go with fiction texts for the focus of topic vs main idea because it seems to be the more challenging genre to separate the two. I hope you love these fun fall mentor texts that I chose. I sure enjoyed reading them with my students!
5 Books & Resources for Teaching Topic vs Main Idea
I picked up this book for the cover alone and had no idea how amazing its content would be. I just love a book that showcases social-emotional struggle. It is such a great talking point and important for our kids to see they aren’t alone. As the main character Ed’s emotions take over the reader considers the impact that can have. Through his journey, he realizes that big emotions are ok, and we can handle them in a variety of ways.
“The Fox and The Falling Leaves” or “Fletcher and The Falling Leaves”
This is another great book focusing on those oh-so-important social-emotional skills that our young students face. Fox has many wonders and shows great empathy as his friend the tree loses his leaves.
“The Golden Acorn”
This is a great book about the importance of teamwork and how our competitive nature can take over and its effects on those we care about. There is a great lesson in this book that our students need to hear as we learn how to collaborate with one another and hear everyone’s voices.
Oh, my love… this book is about the cutest fall book I have ever read. The friendship and the illustrations just pull at those heartstrings. This is a great story about the power of compassion and the joy of helping others.
“The Very Last Leaf”
This is a great story about how it’s ok to worry and how all of us go through doubt and how we can make it through that. Learn about worry, facing fears, growth mindset, and more with this great fall-themed book.
You can also shop for these book titles in my Amazon store by clicking on the book titles above. (As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.)
Guiding questions to use with students
I like to ask my students the following questions when I’m teaching topic vs main idea.
- What are one or two words that describe what the text was all about?
- What or who is the text all about?
- Think about how the story ends. What were you left thinking about?
- What was the story mostly about? A sentence or two to describe.
- What point is the author trying to make?
- What does the author want us to know or learn?
- What is the most important point or thought about the topic?
A fun way to practice Topic, Main Idea, and Supporting Details
To help students ease into learning about the topic, main idea, and details you can try this fun hands-on activity that will surely engage your students. This activity is great for visual learners. I like to call this activity the topic and main idea mystery bag!
To prep for this activity think of a topic and main idea. For example, the topic is “sandwiches” or “making a sandwich”, with the main idea being “how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.” Then you will think of details that would support that main idea and topic and find the images for that. (Pictures of bread, jelly, peanut butter, spreading the toppings, cutting it, etc.) Print and place images in the bag.
To save you time I included this sample in my Main Idea and Details freebie below!
To do this activity with your students you will take out one image at a time from the bag or have students draw them out. Name the item or action. Continue with this process naming each image as a supporting detail. What is great about this activity is it requires some conversation and real thought about our goal of figuring out the main idea and details.
If you have other fun ideas for teaching topic vs main idea I would love for you to share them. We can always keep growing in our craft!
I hope you have a wonderful week and as always feel free to reach out with any comments, questions or just to connect!