Saturday, September 20, 2014

Main Idea Learning Stations

This week, we continued to practice identifying the main idea and supporting details of nonfiction texts using learning stations.  As I mentioned last week, I was going to blog about what we did, so here it is.

I had five learning stations for identifying main idea and supporting details that the students completed.  The students completed the learning stations in whatever order they wanted to allow for students to have a little choice.  These learning stations took several days to complete, so they worked at their own pace with a partner.

One station that the students completed was a Main Idea- Jungle Safari Game that I purchased from Edupress.  I have several of these games and the kids love them!

Another learning station that the kids really liked was the Main Idea in a Bag station from The Brown Bag Teacher.  The kids loved these because they incorporated interesting Science and Social Studies topics.  There are ten different bags for the students to choose from, but I only required the students to complete graphic organizers for four of the bags.  This gave the students opportunities to choose the topics that interested them.

Of course, these stations would never be complete without task cards.  There were actually two learning stations that consisted of task cards.  I used Rachel Lynette's Main Idea and Supporting Details task cards.  I love these because Rachel offers the QR codes with answers for these.  The kids used a QR code app for the i-Pad to get immediate feedback without me having to grade anything.  This makes them easy-peasy!

The other set of practice cards that the kids used were from Edupress.  I actually did this station with each student individually.  The students chose four task cards and read each one orally for me.  This gave me the opportunity to assess the students' abilities to determine the main idea and monitor fluency as well.

The fifth station that the kids completed required the kids to use nonfiction books.  I have always struggled to find nonfiction books that were grade appropriate for finding main idea and supporting details.  After searching the local library high and low, I stumbled upon some FAB-U-LOUS books by Gail Gibbons.  These books were perfect because I was able to find a variety of books with different reading levels to differentiate for my students' needs.  Also, a few of the more difficult books, had multiple main ideas and supporting details.  This allowed me to challenge my higher students and address the standard for fifth grade (determine two or more main ideas of a text and explain how they are supported by key details).

The Gail Gibbons books that I used for the stations are:  
Apples (AR Reading Level- 4.0) 
Beavers (AR Reading Level- 4.7) 
 Galaxies, Galaxies! (AR Reading Level- 5.7) 
It's Raining! (AR Reading Level- 4.1) 
Ice Cream: The Full Scoop (AR Reading Level- 4.4) 
My Soccer Book (AR Reading Level- 3.0) 
My Baseball Book (AR Reading Level- 2.9) 
My Basketball Book (AR Reading Level- 3.2) 
My Football Book (AR Reading Level- 3.2) 

The students completed a graphic organizer to go along with their book.  I am sharing this file of graphic organizers for you to use with your students.  You may click here to download.  I required my students to read one book and complete the graphic organizer, but the kids loved this station so much, a lot of them read multiple books.  Yes, I am DEAD serious!  After surveying the kids after the learning stations at the end of the week, the students told me that this station was their favorite (which really shocked me).  They said they liked reading the nonfiction books because they enjoyed the topics.

Here are some examples of completed graphic organizers.  I was SO proud of how well the kids did with this station.

I hope that while you are searching for ideas and activities for teaching main idea and supporting details, you will find something here to ease your planning.  

Have a great week!  


  1. Hi there. Thanks for the awesome ideas. They are fantastic! I was just wondering what level of the Jungle Safari Main Idea Game you use with your students. Do you teach 4th graders? Thanks. :)

    1. Hi Ursula,

      Yes, I do teach 4th grade. I have the blue level game- reading level 3.5-5.0. This was a good question. Thanks for asking. :)


    2. I absolutely LOVE this blog post! It is full of such great material ideas! Can you explain a little more how you rotate the kids through the stations including time frames? Thank you for sharing these great ideas!

    3. Thank you so very much!!! I am glad that you find the ideas helpful. The kids choose their own order of rotations. They worked with a partner to complete all of the activities. The students did have read to self as an option as well. They had to do this at the same time as their partner, so they could stay on track with one another. Each rotation took about 25 minutes to complete. If the pair finished early, I had enough materials, they could rotation sooner. I hope this helps.

  2. I love your blog and wonderful ideas! I'd love to here what's been happening in your classroom lately!

  3. Hi! I'm a fellow Kentuckian from close by in Murray and am inspired by your hard work and success! Excited to start following your blog!
    21st Century K

    1. Yes, you are very close! Thank you so much for stopping by! ;)

  4. I LOVE your blogs about what you're doing each week! I've loved seeing the products of other TPTers that you purchase. I now own several of those products myself! Thank you for the wonderful ideas! Have you started your Greek Mythology unit yet? I would love to see how you present this unit in your classroom!

    1. Never mind! I dug into your blog more and found your posts from previous years. It made me more excited to do this with my students! It's next on my list! We switch classes for reading and I have the very low students. It takes us a while to do activities, but I love Greek mythology and hope they will find a way to connect with it...especially using your beginning power point! Thanks for all you do!