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The BEST Main Idea and Details Graphic Organizer Activity!

Getting students to grasp the concept of the main idea and details can be difficult! Especially if your students want to simply choose the first sentence of the paragraph.

That doesn’t always work!

And that’s why I created this activity!

My students struggled to really understand what a main idea was. They always wanted to just pick the first sentence of the paragraph, but sometimes that sentence was a hook or introductory sentence.

The idea behind this activity is for students to ACTUALLY understand what it means for details to SUPPORT a main idea by using a main idea and details graphic organizer.

Learn how this activity works, and stick with me til the end! I’ve got a FREE sentence sort for you to use in your classroom!

Main idea and details sentence sort activity.

When students are given the sentences to the paragraph all mixed up and out of order, it requires them to think about which of the details supports another.

They can’t just pick the first sentence with this activity! There IS NO first sentence!

Have a look at the sentences in this picture:

Sentences are mixed up and out of order. Students will read them all and think about how they are related.

Questions to ask students as they are reading all of the sentences and trying to decide which one is the main idea:

  • Are all of the other sentences about this one?
  • Are these sentences related?
  • What is the main idea the author is trying to tell me in this paragraph?

I love this activity because it engages students in a higher-order thinking task and requires them to use reasoning skills.

main idea and details graphic organizer, sentences from two paragraphs sorted

The graphic organizer mat allows students to visually organize the sentences by placing the main idea at the top and the supporting details below.

Sometimes simply seeing the sentences on a graphic organizer can help students determine which sentences are the supporting details.

You can do this activity with any paragraph of sentences by simply typing them up and giving them to students out of order.

You could even randomly write the sentences from a paragraph on the board and have students recopy them as a paragraph that begins with the main idea.

Guess what? This is also a GREAT way to practice paragraph writing!

Teachers love the included response sheet so students can write and explain why one sentence is the main idea.

BONUS: The file also includes writing extension ideas for older students!

You can have them use the paragraphs to write a nicely organized report!

Since they are not writing the sentences, they will simply be LEARNING how to organize and structure a report!

If you like this activity, be sure to check out this resource in my TpT store! It is a bundle of all my Main Idea & Details Sentence Sorts!

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