January 31, 2018
by Caitlin Hardeman

Lesson plan

A Rich History of Symbols

Download lesson plan
Grade Subject View aligned standards

Students will be able to determine the main idea and supporting details in an informational text about important pieces of history.

(3 minutes)
  • Offer students the following scenario: Your best friend went to the movies this weekend, but you were home with the flu. She saw a movie that you’ve never heard of, so you ask her what it was about. She gives you a one word answer.
  • Ask students how that would make them feel.
  • Accept student answers and explain that the best friend in this scenario simply gave the topic, but not the main idea. Ideally, she would have given the main idea and some supporting details, but not every little detail of the movie.
  • Explain to students that today they will learn how to find the main idea of a text. They’ll also learn to pick out the three best supporting details.
(15 minutes)
  • Explain to students that the goal of today’s lesson is to read informational texts about important parts of history and find the main idea and supporting details.
  • Show students how to make a main idea web graphic organizer by drawing a circle in the center of a piece of construction paper or computer paper with three outer circles.
  • Point out that the center circle is for the main idea, the important information that tells about the overall idea of the text, while the three outer circles are for the supporting details, the information such as facts, statements, and examples that guide us to a full understanding of the main idea of a text.
  • Use the National Symbols: The Declaration of Independence worksheet to model picking out the main idea and supporting details.
  • Explain that when thinking about the main idea, readers need to ask themselves the following questions: What is this mostly about? If I could create one sentence about this text, what would it be?
  • Clarify that a strong supporting detail is one that connects to the main idea, and is not a random interesting fact. A supporting detail must also be important to the text.
  • Record the main idea and supporting details in the main idea web graphic organizer. (Main Idea: The Declaration of Independence is an important document that announced America’s independence from Britain. Supporting Details: It was submitted to the Continental Congress after the vote for independence was made. The document was mostly written by Thomas Jefferson. It was released and shared with the public on July 4, 1776.)
  • Underline and circle the main idea and supporting details in the text to create a visual for students about where this information can be found in an informational text.
(15 minutes)
  • Divide the class into small groups of three or four students, and distribute a copy of the National Symbols: The Statue of Liberty worksheet to each student. Hand out one piece of construction paper or computer paper with the premade graphic organizer and a marker to each group.
  • Read aloud the passage on the worksheet with the students. Explain that the Statue of Liberty marks an important part of the history of the United States, and challenge students to work together to identify the main idea and supporting details from the passage.
  • Instruct groups to record the information on the main idea web graphic organizer they received.
  • Circulate while groups work, stopping to support struggling groups and offering praise to groups as they work together.
  • Gather students’ attention after groups have finished the graphic organizer. Create a new blank main idea web graphic organizer to display on the board or document camera to use while going over this as a class.
  • Call on nonvolunteers from each small group to share information to place on a class main idea web graphic organizer displayed on the document camera or the board.
(15 minutes)
  • Distribute a History of the American Flag worksheet to each student.
  • Direct students to flip the paper over to draw themselves a main idea web graphic organizer. Note that the center circle of the web is for the main idea statement, and the three outer circles of the web are for the supporting details.
  • Instruct students to read the passage independently and to answer the comprehension questions.
  • Remind students to go back to the text to find the text evidence that supports their answers.
  • Explain to students that, after they answer the comprehension questions, they will determine the main idea and three best supporting details. This information will be recorded on the graphic organizer on the back of the worksheet.


  • Provide premade main idea and supporting detail sentence strips for struggling students to sort into the correct location on the graphic organizer.
  • Intentionally pair more advanced students with struggling students.
  • Offer struggling students sentence frames for the main idea: The _____ is important because ____.


  • Challenge advanced students to research another symbol from American history. After gathering research, instruct them to write a paragraph with a main idea and three supporting details that would teach the class about the topic.
(2 minutes)
  • Collect the History of the American Flag worksheets from independent practice to serve as a formative assessment of students’ abilities.
  • Assess whether students successfully used text evidence to answer text-based questions.
  • Determine whether students correctly identified a main idea and three supporting details in the graphic organizer that accompanies the History of the American Flag worksheet. (Tips: Make sure the main idea was a sentence instead of a single word.)
(5 minutes)
  • Direct students to turn to their shoulder or table partner.
  • Prompt them to think about three important symbols from United States history that they learned about.
  • Give each student one minute to share the most interesting information they learned about the symbols.
  • Review with students that today they found the main idea and supporting details in informational texts about symbols and our country’s history.
  • Remind them that a main idea is a more than just a single word, but it is not every single detail that is included in the text.

Add to collection

Create new collection

Create new collection

New Collection>

0 items

How likely are you to recommend Education.com to your friends and colleagues?

Not at all likely
Extremely likely

What could we do to improve Education.com?

Please note: Use the Contact Us link at the bottom of our website for account-specific questions or issues.

What would make you love Education.com?

What is your favorite part about Education.com?