Lessons & Units :: Main Idea 1st Grade Unit

Lesson 1: The Best Main Idea

Lesson Plan

Learning Goal
Choose the best main idea.
Approximately 50 minutes
Necessary Materials
Provided: Direct Teaching and Guided Practice Passage, “Baseball” and Worksheet; Guided Practice Passage, “The First Day of School” and Worksheet; Independent Practice Passage, “Snow Day!” and Worksheet 

  • Activation & Motivation

    Unpacking the main idea! Pull the following items out of a bag: a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, and mouthwash. Ask students to turn and talk to a partner about what they think the big idea of the bag is based on the items. Chart their ideas, but limit choices to two. Lead students to determine that the unpacked “big idea” is keeping your teeth clean.

  • Teacher Modeling

    will explain to students that the main idea of a text is what the text is mostly about. I will read “Baseball” (provided) and explain that I have two choices for the main idea. I will think aloud about the title and what the passage is mainly about. I will read the two choices for the main idea and discuss how the passage mentions both of these. I will model my thinking as I choose the correct main idea. For example, I will say "even though the passage says that Kobe plays baseball with his mom, it is only one small part of the passage. All the other sentences are about how much Kobe loves baseball and all the things he does related to baseball. So the best main idea is the second, 'Kobe loves baseball'."

    TIP: Read each passage twice, allowing students to listen to the content the first time. Then read it a second time for further analysis using the title and details to determine the best big idea.

  • Think Check

    Ask: "How did I choose the best main idea?" Students should respond that you thought about what the story was mostly about and then read both choices. You thought about which choice was not just a small detail but the most important idea of the story.

  • Guided Practice

    will read “The First Day of School” (provided) and discuss the two choices for the main idea. We will choose the best main idea from the two choices and provide evidence from the text to support our idea. If students disagree, they will be allowed to debate until everyone agrees on the main idea.

    TIP: Circle the details in the passages that help support the big idea so students can see the text support.

  • Independent Practice

    will read (or listen as I read) “Snow Day!” (provided) and the two choices for the main idea. You will determine the main idea and explain how you know that is the main idea of the passage. (Independent Practice Worksheet is provided.)

    TIP: Struggling students may benefit from having answer choices to choose from for the Independent Practice. You may want to modify the Independent Practice passage if students are not familiar with or have not experienced “snow days” to make it more relevant or more engaging to them.

Build Student Vocabulary poster

Tier 2 Word: poster
Contextualize the word as it is used in the story Kobe has five baseball posters hanging in his room.
Explain the meaning student-friendly definition) A poster is a large sign that usually has a picture. A poster gives people information or makes a wall look nice. Kobe has posters that have information about baseball.
Students repeat the word Say the word poster with me: poster.
Teacher gives examples of the word in other contexts A baseball poster could have pictures and information about a baseball team. A movie poster shows me a picture of a movie. Sometimes there are posters in the subway or train stations that tell about the time the train will come. Sometimes we see posters telling people to buy something.
Students provide examples Where might you see a poster? Tell me about it by saying, “I might find a poster __________________.”
Students repeat the word again. What word are we talking about? poster
Additional Vocabulary Words hanging, mitt

Build Student Background Knowledge

After identifying the main idea of the "Baseball" reading passage, explain that a baseball mitt is a large leather glove that helps a team catch balls. Baseball used to be played without mitts, but when a player named Doug Allison injured his hand, he used a mitt to help him catch balls on the field.

Texts & Materials

Standards Alignment

(To see all of the ReadWorks lessons aligned to your standards, click here.)

User Comments

Thank you for such great material. I use it to help my students design their own lessons. I love the differentiation between independent and guided reading.

I will be using this lesson for sure. Thanks for sharing!

I love using these passages every year. They do help kids "get it".

This lesson is wonderful! Thanks for sharing it!

Great lesson. I taught it today to a small group of students and it was excellent!

I love this lesson. I will be doing this tomorrow. Thank you for sharing.


I find this lesson and materials really helpful.

I think this is a very explicit lesson on main idea. This would be helpful in introducing the concept to my first graders.

I really like this lesson!

Great lesson

Very explicit and easy to teach lessons!

I am going to try this lesson in 2 weeks, i am excited and i hope it goes well for my students.

I have visited this site for Lexile levelled passages so many time and never touched the RC portion. I wish I could get back those days. Sigh. Beautiful lessons.

Thanks for the nice lesson! I'm thinking of adding a collaborative piece: each student in the group will have a sentence that is either the main idea or a detail of their paragraph. They will have to identify their sentences as main idea or detail and justify their choice.

Thanks for a great idea to continue student hands on work with this topic.

it is so simple and clear my students will have no problem understanding main idea :)

Love your site. It is very helpful and so organized...it makes prep time for lessons so much easier! Thanks for all that you do.

Loved how the lesson is short, to the point and uncomplicated for the students.

Good sequence of activities

I love the many components included within the lesson!

Having children read three different stories will help student understand and realize that they can in fact find the main idea in every story.