It is important to find main ideas when reading. Main ideas help readers remember remember important information.

The main idea of a paragraph tells the topic of the paragraph. The topic tells what all or most of the sentences are about.

Directions: Read each paragraph on each card and answer the main idea question. Check your answers with the answer card.

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Many roads have long histories. Some roads began as paths for people or cows and horses. Then carriages and early cars used them. Some of these dirt roads were paved and became modern roads. Some are even highways now.

One kind of starfish is called a sun star. It may have seven or more rays. The rays look like the lines around the sun. This starfish grows to be over twelve inches wide. Like the setting sun, it is also red.

The blue whale is the largest creature that ever lived. It is also the most powerful animal in the world. The blue whale can pull as much weight as four hundred people pulling together at the same time. It can even pull more than a powerful train engine.

WHAT’S THE MAIN IDEA?
A) what the history of some roads is B) what dirt roads were like C) how highways are built today

WHAT’S THE MAIN IDEA?
A) how many rays the starfish has B) why children like starfish C) how one starfish is like the sun

WHAT’S THE MAIN IDEA?
A) how strong the blue whale is B) where the blue whale lives C) what the blue whale eats

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Most birds do not sing when it is raining very hard. This is also true when there is a strong wind. Birds do not sing much when it is very hot or very cold. Just before or after a storm, many birds sing more than usual.

Arbor Day, a day for planting trees, began in Nebraska in 1872. Most states plant trees for Arbor Day in the spring. In some states, though, Arbor Day is in the winter. Florida schoolchildren plant trees in January – one of the best times for tree planting in that state.

The apple is the favorite of all fruits that grow on trees. It is dressed in many colors – green, pink, yellow, and red. Almost everyone likes its taste. The apple can be eaten cooked or raw. It can be grown almost everywhere. There are almost ten thousand kinds of apples.

WHAT’S THE MAIN IDEA?
A) when birds sing and do not sing B) why birds like to sing C) when birds sing the most

WHAT’S THE MAIN IDEA?
A) what is done on Arbor Day B) which state plant trees in spring C) what time of year is warm in Florida

WHAT’S THE MAIN IDEA?
A) how wonderful apples are B) where apples are grown C) what apples tastes like

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A long time ago, there was a very heavy rainfall. It took place in the country of India, far away. In one month, thirty feet of rain fell, enough to cover a city. In one year, enough rain fell to drown a nine-story building.

There is a cactus plant shaped like a barrel. It is called the barrel cactus. Another kind of cactus has little hooks from which it gets its name, fishhook cactus. One cactus plant looks like a human brain. It is called the brain cactus.

Elephant keepers care for elephants just as they would care for children. The keepers feed the elephants, clean up after them, train them, and scold them when they don’t behave. Besides a mix of oats, corn, and molasses, each elephant eats seventy-five pounds of hay a day!

WHAT’S THE MAIN IDEA?
A) what one rainstorm was like B) how rain helped India C) why people liked rain

WHAT’S THE MAIN IDEA?
A) how the fishhook cactus got its name B) where to find the barrel cactus C) how three cactus plants were named

WHAT’S THE MAIN IDEA?
A) how keepers care for elephants B) what elephants eat besides hay C) when elephants are fed each day

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There is a plant in our country that doesn’t have any green leaves. This plant grows about eight inches tall. At the end of each stem is a white flower. The stem is also white. The plant looks like many white clay pipes. It is called the Indian pipe.

Is it a good idea to use a garden hose to dig a hole? The strong steam of water from the hose washes away the earth, making a deep hole. Sometimes, though, the dirt washes up behind the hose and covers it. Then it is difficult to get the hose out!

Our eyelashes help keep bits of dust from getting into our eyes. They act as umbrellas. They keep rain from getting into our eyes. They also keep sunlight from our eyes. Eyelashes are like frames. Like frames around a picture, they help to make our eyes beautiful.

WHAT’S THE MAIN IDEA?
A) why American Indians smoke pipes B) why American Indians named plants C) what the Indian pipe looks like

WHAT’S THE MAIN IDEA?
A) how to use a hose for watering B) why a hose is not good for digging C) how to turn a hose on or off easily

WHAT’S THE MAIN IDEA?
A) how picture frames help us B) how eyelashes help us C) what eyelashes look like

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The monkey dog is only about a foot high. Big bushy eyebrows hang down over the little dog’s eyes. Hair is all over its face. The monkey dog likes to jump about. It is very playful. People say that the monkey dog is more like a monkey than a dog.

When a baby gets its teeth, it likes to chew on something. Long, long ago, people used a coin as the baby’s teaching ring. They just took a silver dollar and made a hole in it. Then they put a string through the hole and looped it around the baby’s neck.

Things that are far away look small. Things that are near look bigger. Draw pictures of three blocks that are the same size. The one that looks biggest is the nearest block. The block that looks the smallest is farthest away.

WHAT’S THE MAIN IDEA?
A) where to buy a monkey dog B) what the monkey dog is like C) how big the monkey dog is

WHAT’S THE MAIN IDEA?
A) what babies’ teeth are like B) why babies chew C) how teething rings were made

WHAT’S THE MAIN IDEA?
A) how to find something big B) why things look big or small C) why children like blocks

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