These worksheets help your students learn to identify the main idea in short reading passages.

When writing essays, position papers, reports, and stories, authors must present their main idea clearly. Everything within the story or essay must sustain the central topic of thought, from the setting and the characterizations to the supporting arguments and evidence. A really good technique that you can use to help students with this skill is teach students to use the title of a passage to help them infer the main idea of the story. In nonfictional works the title almost tells you everything you need to know to sketch out the main idea. The second skill that students should be proficient with is how to differentiate between topics and the supporting details of the story. I find that this comes with practice. Graphic organizers are really helpful for this skill. They can help you chart out your path to success.

Readers must be able to identify the main thoughts in order to fully enjoy a story or be swayed by an argument. The general format of the worksheets helps students learn how to find the main idea of extended passages. Some are in multiple choice format, but the majority are open responses since many students will have different, but acceptable answers. We do our best on the answer keys to indicate about what the answer should be for the open response problems. The following collection of worksheets gives students short reading passages and asks them to identify the main idea, central theme, and cause using context clues. Project idea: Have your students write a short passage and change small details to establish different central themes. This will help them understand what goes into conveying the concept of the main idea of a body of work. For example: Goldie is: 1) a dog, 2) a cat, or 3) a fish.

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Print Main Idea Worksheets

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Can I Have A Puppy Reading Passage

Can I Have a Puppy?

Tony did everything that he could to prove that he was ready to take care of a puppy. He got up for school without complaining. He made up his bed. He put his dishes in the sink every night. He did his homework without being told.

The Day Off Reading Passage

The Day Off

There was no school today! John leapt out of bed before his mother called him. There wasn't a moment to lose! He gobbled down a bowl of cereal for breakfast, grabbed his skateboard, and headed for the park.

Summarizing the Main Idea Worksheet

In Summary...

Read each passage. Answer the questions.

What's the Main Idea? Worksheet

Three In One

Our elementary school chorus had the largest participation in its history this year. They did eight performances - three in school, and five around town - and received an award for Most Improved School Vocal Group from the state.

Tim Burton Worksheet

Defining Your Own Success

Tim Burton is living proof that it is possible to have a successful career if you choose to follow your passions. Hailed today as a creative and innovative film director, as a child, Burton was fascinated by classic horror films.

Holly's Book Reading Passage

Holly's Book

Holly got a book for her birthday. Once she started reading it, it seemed that she never put it down. She read at the breakfast table in the mornings. She read on the bus on the way to school.

Loud Monkey Reading Worksheet

Howler Monkeys

Howler monkeys start and end the day with loud cries. The cries are their way of keeping in contact with the rest of their troop. They are also a way to signal to competitive troops when they are encroaching on their territory.

Rosa Parks Passage

Rosa Parks

In Montgomery, Alabama in 1955, an African American woman named Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white man, a decision that brought about one of the defining moments of the U.S. Civil Rights movement.

ASL Reading Sheet

American Sign Language

ASL is a visual language, which means that it has its own syntax and grammar. Because it is a "manual language," words are formed by the "speaker" using combinations of hand, arm, and body gestures, as well as facial expressions.

Defining How to Write Worksheet

How to Write a Topic Sentence

Write a topic sentence for each paragraph that clearly state the purpose for the work.

Winter Sheet

Winter Fun

All of his friends like summer the best, but to William, there is a lot more to do in winter. William loves to play in the snow.

Main Worksheet

Joe's Cousin

Joe's cousins felt sorry for him because he lived in the city, but Joe loved city life. Whenever he wanted to fly a kite, or take a walk, or run around, he would head to the park.

New Girl Worksheet

The New Girl

There was a new family in the neighborhood. They had a little girl about Fiona’s age, and Fiona really wanted to meet her.

Baby Worksheet

Baby Mia

Mia's parents always said that when she was a baby, she got into everything! She wanted to hold everything that she saw, and she usually tried to put it in her mouth.

Sports and School Worksheet

The Importance of Sports

Kids love sports. There are age appropriate programs for almost every sport, and playing sports is a way for kids to challenge themselves in a safe and encouraging environment.