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Unit Overview

Concepts of Comprehension
Main Idea
First Grade
Learning Outcomes:
Students will be able to:
1.) Identify and describe the main idea of a nonfiction book using the title.
2.) Identify and describe the main idea of a nonfiction book using textual details.
3.) Identify and describe the main idea of a fiction book using the title.
4.) Identify and describe the main idea of a fiction book using textual details.
5.) Choose the best main idea.
National Reading Panel Teaching Strategies: Prior Knowledge, Active Listening, Comprehension Monitoring
Books:
Lesson 1: “Snow Day!” (text is provided), “Baseball” (text is provided)
Lesson 2: Animal Hearing by Kirsten Hall, Animal Sight by Kirsten Hall
Lesson 3: The Wedding by Angela Johnson, Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes
Lesson 1: Which Main Idea is the Best? (Short Text)
Learning Outcome(s): Students will be able to choose the best main idea.

(I) will explain to students that the main idea of a text is what the text is mostly about. I will read
“Baseball” (text is 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, even though the passage says that Kobe plays baseball with his mom, that
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”.

(We) will read “The First Day of School” (text is 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.

(You) will read (or listen as I read) “Snow Day!” (text 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 is provided.)

Lesson 2: Using a Title to Determine the Main Idea (nonfiction)


Learning Outcome(s):
Students will be able to identify and describe the main idea of a nonfiction book using the
title.
Students will be able to identify and describe the main idea of a nonfiction book using
textual details.

(I) will discuss how the title helps us determine what a book is mostly about. This is the main idea. I will
read and chart (example provided) facts from Animal Sight by Kirsten Hall. I will reread the facts and
the title of the book and discuss how they all are about animal sight. I will explain that the title gives
me a clue about the main idea, but I need to put it in my own words. I will think aloud about a
sentence to describe the main idea (All animals see in different ways.) and write it on the chart.
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(We) will read Animal Hearing by Kirsten Hall and chart (example provided) facts from the book. We will
discuss how the facts and title all have to do with animal hearing.

(You) will listen as I read the passage “Fly, Fly Butterfly” (provided in unit) aloud. You will illustrate and write
a sentence in your own words describing the main idea of the book. (Independent Practice is
provided.)

Lesson 3: Using a Title to Determine the Main Idea (fiction)


Learning Outcome(s):
Students will be able to identify and describe the main idea of a fiction book using the
title.
Students will be able to identify and describe the main idea of a fiction book using
textual details.

(I) will review how the title helps us determine the main idea of a nonfiction book. I will discuss how the
title of a fiction story can also help us determine the main idea. I will show the cover of The Wedding
by Angela Johnson and predict that the story will be about someone’s wedding. I think this story is
about a wedding because that is what the title says and the picture on the front cover looks like a
wedding. I will read the story while I periodically stop and think what the story is mainly about. I will
identify the main idea as “Sister’s wedding to Jamal.” I will discuss that most of the textual details and
pictures are about the wedding.

(We) will read the fiction passage “Princess Lilly”. We will identify what the story is mostly about by
choosing important information from the passage and using the title. We know the passage is about
Princess Lilly because the title tells us that. The story also tells us that she does not like to do what
princesses normally do. We will identify the main idea: Princess Lilly does not want to behave like a
typical princess.

(You) will listen as I read Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes. You will identify the main idea using the title
and details from the text. (Independent Practice is provided.)

Additional Ideas and Activities:

Comprehension Instruction and Reading Groups:


• Copy pictures from books read aloud in class. Have students identify the main idea and create a
title.
• Have students create a new title for a story based on the main idea.
• Have students write book reviews that describe the main idea of a book and their opinion of the
story.
• Have students retell the main idea of books during read aloud sessions, guided reading and
independent reading.
• Tell students a story and have students determine the main idea and a title for the story.
• Provide students with a comic strip to read and ask them to determine the main idea.
• Have students use the title of a poem to identify its main idea.
• As you read a book aloud, work with students to complete a graphic organizer, charting facts from
a book. Use these facts to determine the main idea. (See Additional Activity: A.)

Writing Extensions:
• Have students create titles for their stories that reflect the main idea of the story.
• In Shared Writing, provide students with the main idea and have the students create a story and
title based on the main idea.
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• Make a class, Main Idea Big Book. Students may illustrate and describe the main ideas of their
favorite books from guided reading or read aloud sessions.
• Have students discuss the main ideas of their stories and help them revise by adding details that
support the main idea and deleting details that do not.
• Have students write a letter to a friend describing the main idea of a story.
• Pair students with a partner. Have each partner share a piece of their writing and use the title to
determine the main idea.

Other Connections:
• Have students identify the main idea of a math period, gym class, or lunch period.

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Direct Teaching and Guided Practice for Lesson 1:

Baseball

Kobe loves baseball! He watches it on TV, he


plays every day at recess, and he is on a
baseball team. Kobe has five baseball posters
hanging in his room. When Kobe gets home
from school, the first thing he does is change
into a baseball shirt and grab his ball and mitt.
He is always asking his mom to play catch
with him in the park.

What is the main idea?


1. Kobe likes to play with his mom.
2. Kobe loves baseball.

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Guided Practice for Lesson 1:

The First Day of School

I love the first day of school. My dad always


buys me new school supplies. The night
before, my older sister packs my backpack and
makes my lunch. I get so excited that it is hard
for me to fall asleep. Before I know it, my alarm
clock goes off and it’s time to get up and start
my first day!

What is the main idea?


1. I love the first day of school.
2. I’m so excited that it is hard to sleep.

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Independent Practice for Lesson 1:

Name: ______________________________________

Snow Day!

Yes! School is closed today. I get dressed


and run outside. I make a snowman family
and get in a snowball fight with my friend.
Then we run to the park to go sledding.
Whoosh! I go so fast I start laughing. What
a great day!

Circle the correct answer.


The main idea of this story is:
1. Snow days are fun.
2. Sledding is fun.

How do you know?

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Example Chart for Direct Teaching for Lesson 2:

Animal Sight
1. Snakes can only see things that are close.

2. Eagles can see very well.

3. Frogs can see in all directions.

4. Chameleons can see things in different places at the


same time.

5. Owls cannot see many colors. They see black, white and
gray.

6. Birds and cats can see better than people.

7. A snail’s eyes are on its tentacles.

8. A sea star has an eye spot on the end of each arm.

9. Spiders have up to 8 eyes, but can’t see very well.

10. Bees have 2 large eyes and 3 small eyes.

11. Camels have long eyelashes to keep out sand.

12. Alligators have eyes on the tops of their heads so they


can see out of the water.
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Example Chart for Guided Practice for Lesson 2:

Animal Hearing
1. Ears have 3 parts: outer, middle and inner ears.

2. Zebras and rabbits can move their outer ears to hear


sounds in all directions.

3. Snakes do not have outer ears.

4. Dolphins have great hearing.

5. Sea lions have ear flaps that keep water out.

6. Crocodiles hear through two ear slits on their heads.

7. Elephants have the biggest outer ears.

8. Cats hear sounds that are too high-pitched for people to


hear.

9. Eagles and owls have excellent hearing.

10. Bats and whales listen for echoes.

11. Grasshoppers have ears on the front of their legs.

12. Caterpillars feel sounds.

Note: Do not chart all of the facts from the book, just the ones your students
discuss. Use pictures to replace text whenever possible.
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Independent Practice for lesson 2

Fly, Fly, Butterfly


Monarch butterflies migrate1 in fall. They go to warm places before the cold winter
begins. In spring, the butterflies fly back home.

Bye-bye, Butterfly

It is time for monarch butterflies to take flight! But where do they go? Let’s learn
about monarchs.

Fall: Bye, Butterflies!


Monarch butterflies start their trip in the northern United States and Canada. In
fall, they fly south. Most fly to Mexico. Some fly to California.

Spring: Fly, Butterflies!


In spring, monarch butterflies fly north. Female butterflies stop to lay eggs along
the way. The baby butterflies finish the trip north.

Tagging Butterflies’ Wings


Some scientists place tags on the butterflies’ wings before they migrate. Butterfly
watchers in Mexico and California look for monarchs with tags.

1
migrate: to move from one place to another on a regular schedule for feeding or breeding
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A Monarch’s Migration

This map shows the path that monarch butterflies travel when they migrate. In
the fall, they fly south. In the spring, they fly north.

Leigh Haeger

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Independent Practice for Lesson 2:

Name: ________________________________

Fly, Fly Butterfly

What is the main idea?

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Princess Lily
Princess Lily lived with her mother and father in a big castle. Life in the castle was
very quiet. Lily liked to go outside whenever she could. She liked to ride the horses
in the stable. She liked to dig for worms and fish in the stream.

On other days Princess Lily liked to line up pumpkins on the fence. She’d throw a
ball and knock them down one by one. She had very good aim.

The king and queen did not think this was how a princess should act.
“Lily, you are sweet and delicate, like a flower,” Queen Rose would say. “A princess
should not be riding horses.”

“A princess should not be digging for worms,” King Elvis would say. “A princess
should not get her hands dirty.”

“But I like doing those things!” Lily would say back.

“You are a princess,” her mother would always say next. “You will soon learn to like
doing things a princess should do.”

But Lily never learned. She kept fishing and riding and knocking down pumpkins.
One morning she went downstairs to do some early fishing. But the king and queen
blocked the door.

“Lily, we have had enough,” said King Elvis. “From now on, you will learn to be a
real princess.”

“Yes,” said Queen Rose. “You will learn how to wear fancy clothes. You will learn
how to serve tea. You will learn how to paint pictures of flowers.” Lily groaned. All
of those things sounded terrible!

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Independent Practice for Lesson 3:

Name: ________________________________

Wemberly Worried

What is the main idea?

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What is one detail that supports the main idea?
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Additional Activity: A:

Name: ___________________________________________

Title:
_____________________________________________

Main Idea:
________________________________________

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Facts: __________________________________

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© 2007 Urban Education Exchange. All rights reserved.
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© 2007 Urban Education Exchange. All rights reserved.