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Main Idea Worksheets

Are you looking for main idea worksheets and resources? This page features a collection of high-quality worksheets and a PowerPoint lesson! Many students have difficulties identifying main ideas in nonfiction texts. I hope that these resources will help.

Finding the Main Idea

Identifying main ideas may come simply and naturally to good readers. But it is actually a two or three step process. Struggling readers may trip up on any one of those steps. Here are some practice activities. Students can try to identify the main idea in a variety of texts with these main idea worksheets.

Main Idea Lesson 1
Here is an animated PowerPoint lesson on main idea. The slideshow explains main idea and how to identify it in a text. There is also a practice activity at the end of the lesson with five practice problems.
This is a preview image of Main Idea Lesson 1. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Main Idea Worksheet 1
Here is a double-sided main idea worksheet. Students read seven original nonfiction passages and summarize the main idea of each passage. Also, students must think of a title for each passage that relates to the main idea of the text. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 6-10.
This is a preview image of Main Idea Worksheet 1. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Main Idea Worksheet 2
Here is another double-sided main idea worksheet. This worksheet features six more original nonfiction passages for your students to analyze. Students read the passages, disregard nonessential information, express the main idea, and think of a title for each passage related to the main idea. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 6-10.
This is a preview image of Main Idea Worksheet 2. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Main Idea Worksheet 3
Here is yet another double-sided main idea worksheet. This one is themed around robots and robotic technologies. Students practice identifying main ideas and coming up with appropriate titles for each passage. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 6-10
This is a preview image of Main Idea Worksheet 3. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Main Idea Worksheet 4
Here is one more double-sided main idea worksheet. Students read seven passages about money and systems of exchange. They summarize each paragraph, state the main idea, and think of an appropriate title for the passage. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 5-9
This is a preview image of Main Idea Worksheet 4. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Main Idea Worksheet 5
Here's another great activity to help students master main idea. Learn about some of the greatest scientists in human history while reviewing main idea. Read the passages, identify the main idea, and create appropriate titles for each passage. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 7-11.
This is a preview image of Main Idea Worksheet 5. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Main Idea & Text Structure Valentine's Day Worksheet
Your students will LOVE working through these six passages, expressing the main idea of each, titling them, and visually representing the text using graphic organizers. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 7-11.
This is a preview image of Main Idea & Text Structure Valentine's Day Worksheet. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.

Main Idea
Common Core State Standards

Main Idea Anchor Standard
R.2 - Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

RL/RI.K.2 - With prompting and support, identify the main topic and retell key details of a text.
RL/RI.1.2 - Identify the main topic and retell key details of a text.
RL/RI.2.2 - Identify the main topic of a multiparagraph text as well as the focus of specific paragraphs within the text.
RL/RI.3.2 - Determine the main idea of a text; recount the key details and explain how they support the main idea.
RL/RI.4.2 - Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.
RL/RI.5.2 - Determine two or more main ideas of a text and explain how they are supported by key details; summarize the text.
RL/RI.6.2 - Analyze how a particular sentence, paragraph, chapter, or section fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the ideas.
RL/RI.7.2 - Analyze the structure an author uses to organize a text, including how the major sections contribute to the whole and to the development of the ideas.
RL/RI.8.2 - Analyze in detail the structure of a specific paragraph in a text, including the role of particular sentences in developing and refining a key concept.
RL/RI.9-10.2 - Analyze in detail how an author’s ideas or claims are developed and refined by particular sentences, paragraphs, or larger portions of a text (e.g., a section or chapter).
RL/RI.11-12.2 - Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the structure an author uses in his or her exposition or argument, including whether the structure makes points clear, convincing, and engaging.
Click to VIEW Grade Level Standards for R.2
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     /  January 14, 2021

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     /  October 26, 2015

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  41. Jill Alvarado

     /  September 28, 2015

    I teach GED classes and these worksheets are so helpful in teaching main idea and supporting details. Any chance that you would make more? I love that they are rigorous and appropriate for adult learners. (i.e. not adorned with kiddo art.)

    • Developing this site is one of my lifelong missions. Surely I will add more of these activities and ones like these, so long as I am blessed with the ability to do so. Thank you for visiting and providing feedback. Best wishes!

      • Love the site. It is so user friendly. The resources really are free. What a pleasant surprise to know that no one is going to try to offer me resources and then block me from using them. Thank you!

  42. Margie Domingo

     /  September 17, 2015

    I feel as though I have found a treasure. I teach Adult ESL in Commerce City, CO and my students have such a need to read small passages like these to gain in their reading skills.

  43. Nasser

     /  May 22, 2015

    Mr. Morton

    Thanks for providing such useful worksheets. I a teacher in Afghanistan and teaching summary writing in English.

  44. Christy

     /  March 8, 2015

    Since my district threw away our reading currciculum, I have been struggling to find common core teaching materials. Your website has been an amazing resource. I cannot express how grateful I am for your work. Thank you!!

  45. Meli

     /  February 4, 2015

    Mr. Morton,
    Is main idea and central idea the same thing? The concept of central idea has caused me much confusion. Thank you in advance!

  46. Mr. Ahmed

     /  November 16, 2014

    Thank you very much Mr.Morton very helpful site to improve any age of students I hope the best of this site

  47. Rosalie

     /  November 3, 2014

    Love this site. Wish there was more for 5th grade

  48. Maria Johnson

     /  October 12, 2014

    This website has been a Blessing. I work in a large urban city and the district did not give adequate resources to support the Common Core Curriculum. I have been using these resources on a weekly basis. I am so grateful to you for creating this site.
    God Bless You!

  49. Teisa

     /  October 5, 2014

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  50. Dee

     /  September 29, 2014

    Love your work. Been using the lessons and worksheets to prepare my daughter for common core. I was looking for lessons and worksheets on your website that relate to this common core objective. Any ideas?

    Trace and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient to support the claims.


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