Lesson: Main Idea: Using Supporting Details 5

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Lesson Objective

Readers study charts and graphs and connect them to the main idea of the text.

Lesson Plan

Point:  Readers study charts and graphs and connect them to the main idea of the text. 

Connection: Yesterday you learned that writers of nonfiction include maps in their writing to help their reader learn information that supports the main idea. Today you are going to learn how nonfiction writers also include charts and graphs to give their readers information that supports the main idea.


Teach: Charts and graphs are ways of showing information that can help you understand information better. Charts and graphs can include anything from a pie chart, line graph, or bar graph to a timeline or picture graph. Many nonfiction authors include so much complicated information, that it can be helpful for them to show this information using one of these kinds of charts or graphs.


  • Let me show you what I mean. This is a “Time for Kids” article that tells about school lunch. (Distribute article copies) It contains lots of information about how school lunch prices keep going up and that makes it hard to include healthy food for kids.


  • Watch how I can look at the chart that the nonfiction author included to help me understand this main idea about school lunches becoming more expensive better. (Read p. 2 out loud and then direct students’ attention to the chart “The High Price of Milk;” think aloud about how this chart shows how much more expensive milk has become over the last 5 years).


  • Scholars, did you notice how this chart gives me information that supports the main idea of the article (that lunch prices are going up)? Did you notice how much clearer the information is because it is given in a chart?


Active Engagement: Now it’s your turn. In a minute, I am going to pass out some copies of the Magic Tree House Research Guide for Pirates. This nonfiction book contains information about real pirates! The main idea of this book is: Pirates are sea robbers who have sailed ships, gotten treasure, attacked others, and lived their lives in different ways throughout the centuries. Pay attention to how the timeline helps support that main idea in this first chapter, which is all about the first pirates.


  • Turn to p. 24 to look at the timeline. (Explain the different aspects of the timeline to students – may want to point out how it relates to the map if not too confusing).


  • Turn and tell your partner what supporting information the timeline helps us understand about early Pirates.


  • (Discuss answers, making sure that students understand the link between the timeline and the main idea).


Link: Scholars, today and whenever you read nonfiction books, make sure you pay attention to any graphs or charts you see because they will help you understand the information in the book that supports the main idea.


Share: Who was able to use a chart or a graph to help them learn more about what their nonfiction books were trying to teach them about?


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