Point to the Main Idea & Sounds In Literature

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SWBAT identify themes of a text and show how figurative language creates a tone or mood for the story.

Big Idea

Show how the story is organized and add some fun sounds!


  • Bear Wants More for teacher demo (by Karma Wilson)
  • Collection of ‘Bear’ Stories by Karma Wilson for the students ** (Bear Feels Scared, Bear Feels Sick, Bear Hugs, Bear Snores on, Bear Stays Up, Bear Wants More, Bear’s New Friend, Bear’s Loose Tooth, Bear Says Thanks)
  • 'Points of Literature' organizer
  • iPad
  • Recorder app – pick a free one – the kids just need to record the sounds  (Pre-record the sounds for Bear Wants more – nibble, eat, splash, sniff, surprise, stuck, pop, snore)
  • Lesson vocabulary words from the Reading/Writing word wall: details, main idea, literature, beginning, middle, end, onomatopeia
  • Set up the whiteboard 


** I chose these stories because they are at the 2nd grade reading level and the kids LOVE them. The topics are age appropriate and real to the kids (loose tooth, friendships, sickness...). I used this lesson as an assessment to several lessons that I had taught on main idea. You can see the other lessons about identifying main idea, including Points of Literature-Main Idea and Details and Point to Main Idea/Point of View.  I used the same organizer in these previous lessons and I wanted to see how well the students could summarize with less prompting.

Get Excited!

5 minutes

Underlined words below are lesson vocabulary words that are emphasized and written on sentence strips for my Reading & Writing word wall. I pull off the words off the wall for each lesson, helping students understand this key 'reading and writing' vocabulary can be generalized across texts and topics.  The focus on acquiring and using these words is part of a shift in the Common Core Standards towards building students’ academic vocabulary.  My words are color coded ‘pink’ for literature/’blue’ for reading strategies/’orange’ for informational text/'yellow' for writing/’green’ for all other words)


Get students engaged

  • “I brought a story with some sounds today.  Let me play you some sounds and see if you tell me what the sounds might be about.”  (I played some general environmental sounds, such as an ambulance, horn honking, cricket chirping, school bell ringing). This was just a good way for kids to start thinking of how sounds bring us to a certain place.
  • Play sounds from the recorder app -“Where could these sounds be from?” Take ideas.


Introduce lesson ideas and vocabulary

  • “These sounds are called ‘onomatopoeia’.  Authors use these to help bring meaning to the text.”
  • “Each of these sounds helps the reader imagine something.”


Students are encouraged to utilize figurative language as a tool to aid in comprehension. Analyzing how this adds to the text (RL.2.4) helps them become better readers and represents a shift in the ELA Common Core Standards toward close reading. As they examine the text and identify main points and supporting details, students are also demonstrating how to use evidence from the text to summarize and identify central themes. (RL.2.2) This use of evidence and figurative language are higher level skills for 2nd graders. They represent a shift in the curriculum encouraged by the Common Core Standards toward more independence in reading with carefully structured lessons that allow students to discover concepts and practice skills.

Teachers' Turn

15 minutes

Introduce book and review text organization

  • “This book is about a bear that you may have seen before. It's literature, which means it's a story that comes from the author's imagination.”  Show the cover.
  • “Each of the bear's adventures in this book has a main idea and key details. To help us read better, we should figure out how each adventure or part of the book relates together."


Demonstrate the strategy

  • “There’s a pattern to his adventures - each has a main idea and details that support that idea.” Read the page that starts with ‘He waddles outside’ "The big idea is that bear eats all the grass.” Here's the completed whiteboard with my ideas.
  • "The key details - He digs and he paws...nibbles the grass"... write below the arrows.
  • “Let me read more and see what the next main idea was."  Read the next section about the berries. Repeat the big idea/key details with the organizer.
  • Continue with the rest of the story. Here's a video of the teacher and student working together to find the big idea and key details.


Review the strategy and apply it

  • "You can see the big ideas each have details that are verified in the text"
  • Play the apps again and tell the main idea of each part of the story. Watch the teacher demonstrating sounds as she points to the main ideas.


As students look at the story structure of this piece of literature, they are evaluating the story as a whole and way the parts relate to each other. (RL.2.5) Common Core ELA standards encourages students to see how text is organized and recognize structure and patterns within the text. Ultimately, students, who can determine the structure of a story, will be better able to predict, connect, and summarize.

Students Take a Turn

20 minutes

Explain the task

  • “I brought more books about this bear. He continues to have lots of adventures. There are lots of examples of onomatopoeia in these books too.”
  • "Preview and then read the text first." Here's a video of a student previewing the text. The preview need not be a long task (in fact, it should be quick) - just enough to activate some prior knowledge and get interested in the text.
  • "I’m passing out the ‘points of literature’ organizer. Work (alone or with your group) to summarize the main points of each adventure and add the supporting details." Use the book to find details and support the main idea that you chose. 
  • This student working at his desk did a great job!
  • Remember the rules for group work.” Take a look at the group rules poster  that my students help me create at the beginning of the year.


Follow up and guide them to the next step

  • Pass out the iPads when they're done. I always review my iPad Rules for the class before they start working.
  • They'll use the recorder app to record sounds to show the onomatopoeia. They can choose sounds for the bear's adventures. Here's an example of  prompting students as they're choosing sounds.

Apply What You've Learned!

15 minutes

Students share their ideas with sounds

  • “Let’s share our summaries. Read your main points and add the sounds that you recorded.”  
  • "As you listen, you may find another 'bear' book that you haven't read that looks interesting."
  • Here's an example of a completed student worksheet and a student using the app to summarize.


Review - Why are we doing this?

  • "When we summarize for others, we can share the storyline of the book and others may want to read it."
  • "Adding sounds to your main ideas made it really fun and interesting." 


Scaffolding and Special Education: This lesson could be easily scaffolded up or down, depending on student ability.

For students with academic challenges, groups of varying abilities would be appropriate. One person can be the reader and another the recorder. The student with challenges could participate by giving ideas or helping with sound recordings. If you are giving books to each student, ensure that you can sit with challenged students and read one book to them and help them fill out the worksheet.

This is a great lesson for students with more academic ability. There is great descriptive vocabulary in this book for them to include in their main ideas, such as 'hare' and 'pries'.  I would challenge them to include some of this higher level vocabulary in their work.