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What are Main Idea Worksheets?

Main idea worksheets help learners distinguish the importance and relevance of a topic and its various details.

Why Are They Important and How Are They Best Used?

Do your students lose sight of the forest for the trees? Using main ideas and details worksheets can help enhance their perspective. A main idea is the central idea or the main, primary concept of a written work. The author completes a written work by fleshing out this main idea and adding supporting ideas to create the full picture and present their perspective.

Teachers can use these handouts to give the class structured representations of a hierarchy of meaning. Main idea and details worksheets can be used as brainstorming tools or analyses of reading passages and more; they help kids categorize information and get them ready for more advanced writing. Not only that, but they also help to spark creative thinking and give students a chance to make connections between ideas. You can think of them as a type of concept map or main idea story map. They are typically used in language arts, English, or reading classes, and can be used in classes at different grade levels, from elementary school to high school.

Why Use Main Idea Worksheets in the Classroom?

Exploring different concepts with central idea sheets are an effective way to help learners develop their reading comprehension skills. By identifying the key idea of a text, students can gain a better understanding of the author's message and the supporting details that contribute to it.

Main idea and supporting detail handouts can help identify the important details of a reading passage. By practicing this skill, students can improve their reading comprehension and better understand the content they are reading. Additionally, your class will learn how to summarize a passage in their own words, which can help with writing assignments and other activities that require them to explain ideas.

These sheets can be used in a variety of ways in the classroom. For example, you can use a short paragraph or story to introduce a new topic or to review material that the class has already learned. You can also use multiple paragraphs to help students practice identifying details of a longer text.

To help identify the key idea of a passage, you can encourage your kids to look for the thesis statement, topic sentence, or first sentence of the passage. They can also look for clues in the supporting ideas and details of the passage, as well as the first and last sentences of each paragraph.

To help students write a summary of a long or short passage in their own words, you can provide them with graphic organizers or other tools to help them organize their thoughts. You can also provide answer keys or other resources to help your class check their work and get feedback on their progress.

By using main idea handouts in your classroom, you can help your students develop their reading comprehension skills and become more confident readers. So the next time you're looking for a new way to help your them understand and retain what they're reading, consider using main idea worksheets!

Brainstorming Ideas to use Main Idea Templates in the Classroom

  1. Simple Brainstorming: For this idea, you begin with a question or a prompt and have students build on the idea using the template you designed.

  2. Card Method: For this version of the activity, the entire class can participate. It involves building upon the prompt presented. You can begin on one side of the classroom and have the main idea presented, then kids pass along the template, adding details to the idea as it is passed along. Building on the idea can be done in different ways, including writing questions for discussions instead. Not only does this activity foster the development of quality, creative ideas, but also an enhancement of the classroom space itself through collaboration.

  3. Group Brainstorming: This activity involves allowing students to work and fill out the template in groups. When kids fill out templates individually, their experiences might cause them to unconsciously present the same ideas when they are collated. When they work in groups, each contribution should allow for some creativity or challenge, making each final idea more unique.

Uses For Free Main Ideas Worksheets

Word Clouds

For this activity, students are given the idea or subject and asked to note all the words and concepts that come to mind when thinking about that particular topic.


This activity can begin with the main idea as a question and then simple answers are suggested and listed.

Concept Maps

This activity typically involves starting with a main idea, typically placed in a circle and then this idea is connected to the other key ideas. With this type of template, everyone can see how their different ideas are connected and possibly pick up on any misconceptions they may have.

Simple Note Taking

When presented with a topic, students can choose to note the ideas and supporting ideas creatively on a worksheet.

Science Mapping

There are many complex concepts in science and main idea templates can be a good tool for breaking down and exploring these ideas.

Active Reading Strategies

With active reading, writing concepts and supporting ideas down helps with recall. It's a good practice to use main idea worksheets and the strategy can be used for a wide variety of subjects.


These worksheets are useful for comparison tasks especially when studying literature. For instance they are useful for activities comparing main characters.

How to Make a Main Idea Worksheet

1 Choose One of the Premade Templates

We have color, black and white, portrait, or landscape templates. Take a look at our colorful example for inspiration!

2 Click on "Copy Template"

Once you do this, you will be directed to the storyboard creator.

3 Give Your Worksheet a Name!

Be sure to call it something related to the topic so that you can easily find it in the future.

4 Edit Your Worksheet

This is where you will include directions, specific questions and images, and make any aesthetic changes that you would like. The options are endless!

5 Click "Save and Exit"

When you are finished with your worksheet, click this button in the lower right hand corner to exit your storyboard.

6 Next Steps

From here you can print, download as a PDF, attach it to an assignment and use it digitally, and more!

Even More Storyboard That Resources and Free Printables

Happy Creating!

Frequently Asked Questions About Main Idea Worksheets

What is a main idea worksheet, and why is it important for students to complete one?

A main idea worksheet is an educational tool that helps students identify the most important concept or message in a piece of text. It is important for students/children to complete a main idea worksheet because it can improve their reading comprehension skills and ability to summarize information.

Can I customize the main idea worksheet template to fit the specific needs of my students/child?

Yes, most template creators allow for customization of templates to meet specific needs. This may include changing the font size, adding additional prompts or questions, or adjusting the length of the passage students are asked to read.

How do I ensure that the main idea worksheet template is appropriate for the age and skill level of my students/child?

You can ensure that this template is appropriate for the age and skill level of your students/child by selecting templates that are designed for their grade level, and by adjusting the length and complexity of the passage they are asked to read.

Are there any best practices for using a main idea worksheet template in the classroom or at home?

Some best practices for using this template include providing clear instructions, encouraging students/children to read the passage carefully before answering questions, and allowing time for students/children to discuss their answers with peers.

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