Teaching Main Topic and Key Details with a Construction Theme

Who doesn't love a good theme?!  I know that I do, and I love incorporating themes into my instruction.  A few years ago, we did a construction room transformation in math, and it became my favorite transformation of all.  The students loved getting to be builders and wear all of the fun construction gear.  I knew that I had to find a way to incorporate it into ELA, so the Main Topic and Key Details Construction Room Transformation was born!  Now don't feel like you have to go all out with a room transformation.  These activities would be just enough to get your students excited and keep them engaged in learning about identifying the main topic of a story.

The main topic of a text is the overall topic that the text is mostly about.  Students begin identifying the main topic orally in kindergarten of an informational text.  Students in first and second also identify the main topic, as well as the key supporting details or ideas.  By third grade, they transition into identifying the main idea and supporting details.  These activities would be most appropriate for first and second grades.  Let's take a look at some tips and resources for teaching main topic!

Main topic and key details anchor chart, activities, and crafts for first grade and 2nd grade.

Room Transformation Decorations

Transform your classroom into a full on construction zone!  All you have to do is print some signs if you want to go simple!

Main topic and key details anchor chart, activities, and crafts for first grade and 2nd grade.

I print this anchor chart in poster size and laminate it so that I can reuse it throughout the unit as I model main topic and key details.

Main topic and key details anchor chart, activities, and crafts for first grade and 2nd grade.

When I did the transformation in my classroom, we asked families if they could donate some items a few weeks in advance.  They sent us lots of fun stuff!  We received signs, hard hats, vests, orange cones, and caution tape.  It really took our unit to the next level!

Main topic and key details anchor chart, activities, and crafts for first grade and 2nd grade.

Main topic and key details anchor chart, activities, and crafts for first grade and 2nd grade.

Main topic and key details anchor chart, activities, and crafts for first grade and 2nd grade.

Opening Activity (Mystery Toolbox)


To kick off the unit, I made a Mystery Toolbox.  I just used my tool bag and attached the sign.  If you don't have one, you can just use a bag and pretend.  Inside the bag, you will put in an item.  You could do a tool or something related to the texts you will be reading.  Do not tell students what is in the toolbox.  

Main topic and key details anchor chart, activities, and crafts for first grade and 2nd grade.

On these clue cards, write clues that all point to the secret item in the bag.  

Main topic and key details anchor chart, activities, and crafts for first grade and 2nd grade.

Ask students what all of the clues have in common.  These all point to the item, or the main topic!

Main topic and key details anchor chart, activities, and crafts for first grade and 2nd grade.

Main Topic Blueprints


Model, model, model!  This is always key when introducing a new comprehension strategy or skill.  One way you can model to students is with this Main Topic Blueprints activity.  You can do this after the opening activity.  Inside the envelope is their first job!  Read the informational text inside to them.  Explain to them that they will be creating a blueprint for the text that contains the main topic and three key details that support the main topic.  I would do this with them at first.  Later, you can use this again as a cooperative group activity or even at learning centers.


Main topic and key details anchor chart, activities, and crafts for first grade and 2nd grade.

Main topic and key details anchor chart, activities, and crafts for first grade and 2nd grade.

Once students' blueprints have passed inspection by you, they will receive these badges and bookmarks.

Main topic and key details anchor chart, activities, and crafts for first grade and 2nd grade.


Main topic and key details anchor chart, activities, and crafts for first grade and 2nd grade.

Main Topic Practice

Lots of practice with many different informational texts is also beneficial to mastering identifying main topic and key details.  Students can begin gaining independence by identifying the key details in a text.  Be sure to explain what makes a detail from the text a key detail.  They will then create a punch list of the key details.  Afterwards, you could give them an exit ticket asking what topic all of those key details have in common or support.  

Main topic and key details anchor chart, activities, and crafts for first grade and 2nd grade.

I like to use many different forms of practice throughout the unit related to the theme.  As students practice, you can have them begin gaining more independence by beginning with partner work and then transitioning to completing the graphic organizers independently over the whole group read aloud.  These are even great for small groups or centers!  I have also included DIGITAL versions of the graphic organizers that are already uploaded to Google Slides TM.

Main topic and key details anchor chart, activities, and crafts for first grade and 2nd grade.


Main topic and key details anchor chart, activities, and crafts for first grade and 2nd grade.


Main topic and key details anchor chart, activities, and crafts for first grade and 2nd grade.

Main topic and key details anchor chart, activities, and crafts for first grade and 2nd grade.

Crafts

If you know me, you know I love a good craft or two!  Incorporating simple art activities activates different areas of the brain.  They engage different senses and help wire neurons for successful learning!  

If you don't want to purchase or ask for the hard hats, here is an easy alternative.  Just print these hard hat graphic organizers, cut out, and attach to a sentence strip.  Students love wearing these!

Main topic and key details anchor chart, activities, and crafts for first grade and 2nd grade.

This toolbox main topic craft will give students a good visual for identifying main topic.  The key details are the tools which go inside the toolbox (main topic).

Main topic and key details anchor chart, activities, and crafts for first grade and 2nd grade.

Another craft is this quick orange cone!  I try to make crafts easy, low prep, and not too time consuming.  It helps to have everything cut out if you don't have time for students to do that during your lesson.

Main topic and key details anchor chart, activities, and crafts for first grade and 2nd grade.

Closing Your Lessons


Main topic and key details anchor chart, activities, and crafts for first grade and 2nd grade.

You always want to have different forms of assessment throughout your lesson.  I usually include teacher observation, the daily task, and an exit ticket.  For an exit ticket, you can use these mini printable ones.  Sometimes, I will just have them write their response on their whiteboards and do a quick check of their responses.  I would use these with a short passage.  This will give you quick data on how to provide your instruction the following day and for small strategy groups.

I also have students share with their partner what we learned during the lesson, and I give them a preview for what we are learning or doing the following day.

If you are interested in any of these resources, you can find it HERE or by clicking on any of the photos.  I would love to see your room transformations on Instagram if you choose to do one!  Just tag me @thelemonadestandteacher.  Thank you so much for stopping by and reading!

Main topic and key details anchor chart, activities, and crafts for first grade and 2nd grade.


Main topic and key details anchor chart, activities, and crafts for first grade and 2nd grade.



























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