Main Idea and Supporting Details + Surviving the End of the Year

That's a hard combo to make work together, but we are this week in my classroom.  The secret of many teachers (certainly me!) is that we find a great idea online, steal it, and change it up to work in our classrooms.  I found this super fabulous, wonderful idea at Julie McKown's Little Literacy Learners.  I liked it.  I liked it a lot.  My kids are pretty good with main idea and supporting details, so I thought I would turn the lesson inside out.  What if I had my kids work in groups to create the bags, and then share them with some younger students?  Here's my plan:

Day 1: I followed her lesson to a t.  I had a bag (main idea: baking brownies) and presented each item one at a time.  Saving the detail that confirms the main idea for last, we discussed how it's important to read the entire paragraph before determining the main idea.
**I really meant to bring in real objects for this bag instead of pictures.  But I didn't get up early enough that morning.  This is real life, people.  I'd like some credit for the fact that I could have faked this.

Day 2: The kiddos got in small groups and planned a bag they would create.  Each group filled out the form and discussed their bags.  What they would put in it, bring from home, draw, you get the idea.

Day 3: Each group assembled their bags.   This involved items brought from home, pictures printed from the Internet (love Kid Rex as a safe search engine!), drawings, even a little playdoh.  I cannot even tell you how happy they were.  And loud.  But happy.  Someone from our district came to get paperwork and told me how wonderful my kids were.

Day 4: Tomorrow each group will practice by presenting their bag to the class.  We will hopefully be able to determine the main idea for each.  Yea!

Day 5: Friday, we'll meet with a second grade class.  Each second grader is bringing a clipboard and a pencil.  I'll give each second grader a packet with four of the recording worksheets.  The plan is for them to rotate in small groups through four of our bag stations.  (We have seven stations, but I am pretty sure I won't be able to keep their attention for that long!)  Each group of fourth graders will present their bag and helped the second grade group complete the sheet.

In the end, we will have spent our second to last full week of school engaged in an activity that has academic value.  We also get to help out a some second graders.  It's a win win!

Our rotations with second grade were fabulous!  I have two sections, so each section met with a different second grade class.  The second grade teachers loved it, my kiddos loved it, and the second graders were pretty excited to work with the "big" kids.


  1. I LOVE this idea! I'm definitely going to give it a try next year. Thanks for passing this idea along.

    Hooty's Homeroom

  2. I really like this! I am just trying to think how I could adapt this for 6th grade.... :)

  3. I was scrounging for main idea and details activities for 3rd grade. This is such a great idea. I did an example bag, then had the kids guess the main idea. They quickly understood the concept. I had each of them decorate their own main idea bag, and they are taking them home tonight to collect details from home to match their main idea. How cute!

  4. It is okey using pictures instead of concrete objects. The important thing is they enjoyed the activity. Thanks for sharing the way you worked with your students this skill. I will do a similar activity with my kiddos. :)

  5. Love the idea! I am going to share it with colleagues. I am just wondering what the Main Idea is in the last grouping? I am thinking Titanic but one item looks like a cookie and I don't understand Australia.

    1. Hi Diane. The main idea was penguins. That is actually Antarctica and I think the specklely thing was a penguin egg.

  6. Loved this idea!! And what fabulous learning !! I think the bit about the 4th graders teaching the younger ones is fantastic . Thank you so much for this idea .