Uncovering Main Idea in Fiction

It seems so easy to focus on getting to the main idea in nonfiction.  Sometimes the title alone gives us the main idea.  But what about fiction?  We have to dig a little deeper to get to that!

I finally started working with students again now that assessments are over.  My third and fourth graders always need a little help with finding main idea in fiction.  To start off, I used several different methods to help them out.

First we took some time to take these Russian nesting dolls apart. Why?!

It showed the students in a concrete way how to dig deeper into main idea.  We have to think about the entire story, not just one or two sentences.  We talked about the 5 W's {Who, What, When, Where, Why, and I included How as well}.

 Before reading the chosen book to the students, I gave each of them a sticky note with one of the words on it and told them to listen for their information and write it down when I finished reading the book.

I started out by reading a familiar story to the students.

I love using fairy tales to help introduce and teach comprehension skills.  They don't have to spend a lot of time thinking about the story since they already know it.  And I LoVe this version of The Three Little Pigs for so many reasons.  The best is that it is the full version of the story, not just the wolf eating the pigs or the pigs running away, but the wolf continues to try to get the third pig.

Here are the sticky notes my students wrote.  {Remember, these are struggling readers and writers.}

From these, we created a summary which also told the main idea of the story.  The students seemed to enjoy doing this!

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1 comment

  1. I love the idea of the nesting dolls to help students narrow their focus on the story. It really follows the idea I've used before where students start writing the summary of the story on a regular sized piece of paper and then continue doing the same activity (on different days) where the size of the paper gets smaller and smaller until they have narrowed the focus to the main idea.
    Stories by Storie


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