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 main idea, from the setting and the characterizations to the supporting arguments and evidence. Readers must be able to identify the main idea in order to fully enjoy a story or be swayed by an argument. The following collection of worksheets gives students short reading passages and asks them to identify the main idea using context clues.

Project idea: Have your students write a short passage and change small details to establish different main ideas. 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?

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

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.

In Summary...

Read each passage. Answer the questions.

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

Topic Sentences

Write a topic sentence for each paragraph that clearly state the main idea.

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.

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.

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 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.

The Importance of Sports

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