Main Idea The main idea is the most important idea of a paragraph or work. It is the main point the author wishes to make. Finding a Main Idea in a Paragraph • Taken altogether, all of the sentences in a paragraph express one large thought. When you’ve found that thought, you’ve found the subject of the paragraph. • Find the subject. What is the paragraph about? • Every paragraph also contains a main idea. The main idea is what the writer is saying about the subject. • Find the main idea. What does the author say about the subject? Where to Look to Find the Subject • Look at the title or heading. • Look at the first sentence. • Look at names, key words, or repeated words. Find the Subject of This Paragraph What clues can you find in the title, first sentence, key words, or repeated words to identify the subject? from “The Cowboys Arrive” As ranching grew in the Southwest in the mid 1800’s, a new figure arose – the cowboy. Many cowboy stories tell about brave men who captured wild horses by day and told jokes around campfires at night. But real cowboys worked long hours for little pay. They risked their lives in blizzards to guard herds on the open prairies. They rounded up cattle and branded them by burning their ranch’s mark into the animals’ hides. And the cowboys drove cattle hundreds of miles to railroads so that they could be shipped across the country. Subject: cowboys Find the Main Idea of a Paragraph • Sometimes you’ll find the main idea in the first sentence or in the last sentence. The author states the main idea. • Other times you’ll need to figure out the main idea for yourself. The author implies the main idea. You will have to make an inference to find the main idea if it is implied. • The rest of the paragraph gives details about the main idea that explain why. • To tell the difference between the main idea and a detail ask yourself: Is this what the whole paragraph is about? Find the Main Idea of This Paragraph From “Split-Screen View” If you’ve ever tried to swat a fly, you know it’s hard to hit. That’s because a fly can detect moving objects extremely well. Flies view the world through compound eyes – eyes with multiple lenses. Each lens faces a different directions and views a small part of a scene. The parts add up to a complete picture in the insect’s brain, which tells a fly to fly away fast! What is the subject? a fly What is the main idea? Flies are hard to hit. What are the details? • Flies detect moving objects well. • They have compound eyes with multiple lenses. • Lenses face in different directions. • Images are combined in flies’ brains. Use An Organizer Subject: Main Idea: Detail #1: Detail #2: Detail #3: Connection: Remember: Connect your own ideas to the text you have read to make a connection. Lets Find the Implied Main Idea From: “The Birds Peace” On the day Kristy’s father went off to war, she burst out the back door and ran down the path to the woods. Her eyes hurt. Her chest burned. She crossed the bridge over the purling stream and dashed into the lean-to she and her father had built near the edge of the flower-filled woodland meadow. Draw An Organizer Subject: Main Idea: Detail #1: Detail #2: Detail #3: Connection: Check Your Answer Subject: Kristy Main Idea: Kristy is very upset that her father is leaving for war. Detail #1: Kristy burst out the back door and ran to the woods. Her eyes hurt and her chest burned. Detail #2: Detail #3: She crossed a bridge and dashed into a lean-to her father had built. Connection: Kristy wanted to feel closer to her father so she went to a place her father had built for her. Main Idea for Longer Text • In longer text, a paragraph does not stand by itself. • Every paragraph is related to the other paragraphs around it and to the larger chapter or book as a whole. • Each of the paragraphs in the larger work adds a little bit of meaning. • In longer text the main idea can usually be found in the first or last paragraph. • Sometimes you have to infer the implied main idea. • You can use the same main idea organizer to find the main idea of a longer text as you used in paragraphs. Find the Main Idea of a Page in a Story 1. With your partner choose a story we have read in your textbook. 2. Draw an organizer and identify the main idea of the first page of the story. 3. Read the rest of the story. 4. Draw another organizer and identify the main idea of the entire story. 5. Be prepared to share your main ideas with the class. Review Main Idea • Altogether the sentences in a paragraph express one large thought. When you’ve found that thought, you’ve found the subject of the paragraph. • Every paragraph also contains a main idea. The main idea is what the writer is saying about the subject. • Details support the main idea and explain why. • Remember to check your main idea ask yourself: Is this what the whole text is about? If your answer is yes you have the main idea.