Lesson plan

At the Zoo: Finding the Main Idea

Introduce the concept of a main idea to your little scholars using stories about the zoo! Students will help find the main idea and draw a picture to solidify their understanding.
Grade Subject View aligned standards
  • Students will learn what a main idea is and how to find it.
(15 minutes)
  • Ask students to think of what the word "zoo" means to them.
  • Have students think-pair-share their answers. Remind students to speak clearly and loud enough for their partner to hear their thoughts, feelings, or ideas about the word zoo.
  • Call on students to share with the whole group what their partner said about zoos.
  • Explain that a zoo is a place where animals are housed for people to visit, watch, and learn about them.
(10 minutes)
  • Explain to students that the main idea of a story is the major intention of the story, and model for them how you would find it. Use a previously read book or well known story to show students this process.
  • Read your chosen zoo story to the class.
(15 minutes)
  • Ask students what they think the main idea of the story was.
  • After coming to a consensus as to what the main idea was, draw a picture that models this idea.
(20 minutes)
  • Pass out paper and crayons to students.
  • Have students draw a picture of what they thought the main idea of the story was.
  • Ask students to write a complete sentence using high frequency words about what they saw in the story. Example: I see a monkey.
  • Give students a choice of activities when they are done: color a picture of a zoo animal (from the Cool Zoo Animals slideshow) or make a puppet using a paper bag and googly eyes.


  • Instead of having students draw about the animals, students can cut out pictures of animals that were in the story from magazines to make an animal collage of the main idea.


  • Help struggling students by speaking to them one-on-one about the main idea of the story.
  • You can also write out a sentence for them that they can trace.
(10 minutes)
  • Look at the students' pictures to see whether or not they reflect the main idea of the story. Check whether the students wrote about an animal that was shown in the story.
  • Invite students to present their sentences in partnerships. Remind students to speak clearly when they share their sentences aloud.
(10 minutes)
  • Have students put their pictures out on their desk.
  • Have students line up and take them on a gallery walk.
  • Walk around the desks and look at every students' pictures.
  • Gather students into a group to discuss what they saw in the pictures.

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