The Main Idea – Reading Comprehension Lesson


This is a really simple lesson that can work across many different year levels. It starts with students reading a text and then summarising what has occurred into 25 words.

Australian Curriculum Links:

Lesson Outline:


  1. Using any text (newspaper reports work well), discuss with students the strategies that you can use to get the main idea of the text. (First and last sentence, highlighting key words, etc)
  2. Record the strategies on the board.
  3. Explain that today we are going to work on summarising the main idea of the text by using the 5Ws (who, what, when, where and why) and then we are going to try and summarise what happened in EXACTLY 25 words.


  1. Set children off with text and rove your weaker students first.
  2. Any children who are struggling could work on the floor in a small group and use highlighters to find the 5Ws in the text.


  1. Bring children back to the floor.
  2. Write the 5Ws up on the board in a list and ask the children to highlight them when they find them.
  3. Read the text as a whole group.
  4. Clarify the 5Ws by writing what they are (from the text) on the board next to their name.
  5. Have children share their 25 words and rate against whether they included the 5Ws.


  • Collect the Main Idea Worksheets
  • Anecdotal notes on discussion
  • Self-assessment using 5Ws as criteria on how well they found the main idea


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