Determining the Central Message and Identifying the Main Idea and Supporting Details (RL 1.2, RI 1.2)

This is our first big reading unit for the year and it is a tricky one to start with!

To get started with Central Message, we do an author study with Kevin Henkes books.  His books are so great for the beginning of the year with the messages they deliver about friendship and being kind and following rules!  They lend themselves perfectly to this unit.  As we read each book, we talk about what message the author was sharing with us; what lesson the author wanted us to learn.  We list a lesson or central message for each book on a poster.

 After a reading a few books together and identifying the central message/lesson, we have the kiddos try to identify the lesson on their own.  We use A Weekend with Wendell.  Most kiddos are able to give a good lesson and a few are able to give a supporting detail from the story for why that is a good lesson.  Here are some samples. 

You can grab this recording sheet here!

Now, like we said, not all kiddos are able to do this by themselves yet, so we practice a few more books together.  Once we've read all of the Kevin Henkes books that we selected, we do an activity to help kiddos relate a central message/lesson to their own lives.

This kiddo said: "I'm never going to be mean to my friends."
This kiddo said: "I will not be worried about school."
This kiddo said: "Don't be worried about getting your tooth loose."

You can grab this freebie below!

Check out these resources as a great support to your lessons!  They work well for follow-up work, as an assessment, or a as tool to send home.

When we finish up all of our Kevin Henkes books, we move onto non fiction and start to talk about main idea and supporting details.  This happens right around Apple time, so we've got an Apple theme to our book selection!

 This Fall book is great to kick off Main Idea!  We talk about how on non fiction books, the Main Idea is often closely related to the title.  That made it easy to identify the Main Idea of this Fall book!  As the kiddos listened, they were collecting ideas to fill in their puzzle pieces.  This is a great activity for all learners: you can have them just draw a picture or they can write or do both!  You can grab the puzzle sheet free below!

Here we get crafty with our Apple facts!

And of course, we add in a little fun with Johnny Appleseed!  We LOVE using stickies to easily get input from all kiddos!  It was also a great primer to get them ready to go back and do the writing piece on the worksheet below!

Our Focus Board is filling up with all of our Central Message/Main Idea goodies.  We like to use this as a review/preview during lessons.

Here we are introducing Main Idea with Supporting Details.  We use the apple books and have kiddos focus on the Seasons of an Apple tree as their topic.

You can grab this freebie below!

And here is another Main Idea lesson we've done in the past that has worked well with our groups.

The Important Book is great for so many lessons, including Main Idea!  Below you can find a freebie of the Important Thing page (and you'll see we've used in for other topics/subjects).
Check out these resources as a great support to your lessons!  They work well for follow-up work, as an assessment, or a as tool to send home.

Need more reading tools?  
Check out our FREE webinar 'Interactive Reading in the Primary Grades!

Use these tools to engage your readers with strategies to interact with texts. We share easy to implement resources to use in the classroom and at home.   For attending the webinar, get access to a file with the 5 reading tools featured above so you can make your own classroom sets!
Come grab some new ideas to refresh and re-energize your ELA time!

Click here to view the webinar!

Happy Teaching!


  1. Do you have a download for the first graphic organizer shown "Learning Lessons"?