Lessons & Units

Main Idea 3rd Grade Unit


Lesson 1 First and Last Sentences (Individual Paragraph) Identify the main idea of a paragraph using the first or last sentence.
Lesson 2 First and Last Sentences (Passage) Identify the main idea of a passage using the first or last sentence of each paragraph.
Lesson 3 Identifying a Title for a Passage Based on the Main Idea Use the main idea of a passage to create a title for the passage.

Unit Extension Ideas

  • Have students identify the main idea of a fiction chapter using the title.
  • Have students create a new title for a chapter, based on the main idea of the paragraphs.
  • Copy paragraphs or sections from a book and have students identify their main idea and create a title or heading for each paragraph or section.
  • Provide students with a short story or passage. Have students work in groups. Each student can determine the main idea of one paragraph. Then, each group member can work together to determine the main idea of the passage.
  • Have students complete a Main Idea graphic organizer. They should provide details of a paragraph or passage that supports the main idea. They can use the details to determine the main idea. (See Additional Activity: A.)
  • Have students create titles for their stories that reflect the main idea of the story.
  • Have students share their writing with a partner and have the partner identify the main idea of each paragraph (using the first and last sentence), the main idea of the story, and a title for the story.
  • In nonfiction writing, have students create headings for sections that reflect the main idea of that section. Have students explain how they created the title for the entire piece of writing based on the headings.
  • Challenge students to vary main idea sentences between the first and the last of sentences of their paragraphs.     
  • Have students read a Concepts of Comprehension Passage and write a paragraph explaining whether they think the title is appropriate. Students should provide evidence to support their idea.
  • Copy part of a science or social studies textbook. Have students write the title or main idea of a paragraph or section of a chapter. Have them record  the sentences in the paragraph that help them identify the main idea.
  • Continue to have students read Concepts of Comprehension Passages. They may determine the main idea of each paragraph and highlight details that support that main idea. Cover the title of the passage and have students create a title for the passage based on the main idea.

More Books for Teaching Main Idea

The Discovery of the Americas
What's the Big Idea, Ben Franklin?
Wild Weather: Blizzards!
Bugs and Other Insects
Volcanoes and Other Natural Disasters
Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman
Can Do, Jenny Archer
Cam  Jansen and the Mystery of the Monkey House
Addy Learns a Lesson
Meet Kaya

User Comments

Love these lessons and to think I just discovered them. LOL I always came for the passages but these lessons are great!

Where are the answer keys for the "Unit Reading Passages"???

You can find the answer keys by searching for those specific passages on our site: www.readworks.org/books/passages

God bless to he or she and the staffs that put this site together, it is a great help for parent and teachers with children with learning disability. You are thinking for the future of our love-ones, don't ever stop thinking, God bless you and your family (at work and home) all the way for the rest of your live.

I can't wait to use this with my special education students!


Thank you, this was very helpful.

This is great

Your site is of great help to me in both preparation and performance.THANKS A LOT.

Thanks for helping me

These lessons work great with my Level 2 Reading ELL students, thank you.

Love the passages and the tips for teachers.

Thanks ReadWork for this wonderful website!!!

so glad to have found this! I will be using many of these passages to help ESL students with testing strategies. THANKS READWORK!

Love how rigorous the text is. We use this for all lessons.