Finding the Main Idea Reproducible Workbook, McR0273s by McDONALD PUBLISHING CO.

Finding the Main Idea Teacher Resource Book

This book contains activities designed to help students develop a vital reading comprehension skill: the ability to identify the main idea of a passage and find its supporting details. The passages cover a variety of high-interest topics, and the information is followed by exercises that provide students with practice on important comprehension skills such as analytical reading, critical thinking, writing, and outlining.

X Marks the Spot
The major elements of a paragraph are the main idea and the supporting details. The main idea of a paragraph is usually expressed in a topic sentence. To identify the topic sentence, ask yourself the question “What is the main point the writer is trying to make?” The remaining sentences in a paragraph contain supporting details that explain and illustrate the main idea.

WORKSHEET & Sample PDF Activity

Sample PDF Activity

Land Ho!
A topic sentence can appear anywhere in a paragraph.

The topic sentence is often the first sentence of a paragraph. Placing the topic sentence at the beginning of a paragraph is very effective because it helps to quickly focus the reader’s thoughts on the main idea of the paragraph. Therefore, the reader will be prepared for the supporting details to come.

Sometimes a writer presents introductory details before the topic sentence. These details may refer to the previous paragraph, give background information, or serve as a way to capture the reader’s interest.

A writer may place the topic sentence at the end of a paragraph to achieve a special effect.

Underline the topic sentence in each of the following paragraphs.

  1. People enjoy sailing for different reasons. Some people find it relaxing to spend their free time sailing. Adventurers enjoy the challenge of capturing the power of the wind to propel their crafts. Competitive sailors enjoy racing their boats against other sailboats.
  2. What do you think of when you hear the word ship? Do you picture an aircraft carrier with airplanes landing on and taking off from its flight deck? Perhaps you visualize the passenger ship Titanic proudly sailing from New York on its fateful maiden voyage. Maybe you imagine a freighter packed with cargo from foreign lands. There are many types of ships.
  3. Literature and films have created an exciting image of what a pirate’s life was like. In reality, however, the life of a pirate was very difficult. Drinking was a popular pastime among pirates and often led to drunkenness which resulted in quarrels between crew members. Pirates often died from injuries or illnesses they acquired during their travels. Finally, it was not unusual for a pirate caught by authorities to be sentenced to death.
  4. Have you ever felt a bit queasy at sea? Seasickness is a form of motion sickness experienced by some people while aboard a boat or ship. People in automobiles may become carsick. People in airplanes may become airsick. Motion sickness is even a problem for some astronauts while in a space shuttle. Motion sickness in space is called space adaptation syndrome. People can experience motion sickness while traveling in a variety of vehicles.


1 X Marks the Spot
2 Land Ho!
3 Land Ho! (continued)
4 Find the Details
5 What’s the Big Idea?
6 Find the Topic Sentence
7 All About Ants
8 What’s It All About?
9 Which Detail Doesn’t Belong?
10 Writing Topic Sentences
11 A Food Factory
12 Back It Up
13 Fascinating Forests
14 All About Bees
15 Magical Main Ideas
16 Amazing Animals
17 Annie and Helen
18 Indispensable Insects
19 High Fliers
20 Supporting the Main Idea

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