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Strategies to Determine the Main Idea in an Informational Text

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Basics on the topic Strategies to Determine the Main Idea in an Informational Text

Join Pearl and Otis and learn strategies to determine the main idea of an information text.

Transcript Strategies to Determine the Main Idea in an Informational Text

"Look what I have Pearl! What do you think we should name our new pet!?" "Otis, what is that? It looks like a vegetable." "It's a sea cucumber, and they're actually really cool." Let's find out more about Otis' new pet by learning strategies to determine the main idea of an informational text. Remember, the main idea is what the author wants the reader to know or understand about a topic. Key details are sentences with important information that explain or define the main idea. Let's read some text about sea cucumbers and use different strategies to determine the main idea! Sea cucumbers are marine animals that can have many different characteristics. There are over one thousand five hundred species and they can be a wide variety of colours, sizes and shapes. Some grow to be less than one inch long, while others are as long as several feet. One way to find the main idea is to first identify the topic, which is sea cucumbers. Next, ask yourself: what are the most important points this text makes about the topic? The text stated that the many different species can be a wide variety of colours, sizes, and shapes, and explained their size. Since these explain the characteristics in more detail, we know that the main idea is, 'sea cucumbers are marine animals that can have many different characteristics'. Often, the main idea is found in the first sentence of a text but not always. Let's read this paragraph and practise another strategy. The seafloor is also called the benthic zone. Sea cucumbers are scavengers that feed on small food items on the seafloor. Using the tentacles that surround their mouth, they feed on algae, plankton and sand. That is how they get all the nutrients they need to survive. Another way to find the main idea is to identify the pop-out sentence, which is the sentence that stands out or gives an overview of what you are reading. Can you find the pop-out sentence? Sea cucumbers are scavengers that feed on small food items on the seafloor' is the pop-out sentence, since the other text connects to this and describes what they eat and where. Notice, in this paragraph, the main idea is in the second sentence. Let's read one more paragraph and try to find the main idea using the last strategy! Sea cucumbers play an important role in their ecosystem. As they move around the ocean floor, they loosen and improve the soil. They swallow sand to clean the algae from it before the clean sand is then digested and disbursed back onto the sea floor. They also enrich the water with important nutrients that help coral reefs grow and flourish. The last strategy to find the main idea is to identify the who and the what. Who and what is this paragraph about? Sea cucumbers are who this text is about, and there are key details explaining what they do to play an important role in their ecosystem. While Otis and Pearl brainstorm a name for their new pet, let's summarise. Remember, we can use different strategies to determine the main idea of a text. One way is to identify the topic and the most important points the text makes about the topic. Another way to is to find the pop-out sentence. Or you can identify the who and the what to help you determine the main idea. "Wow Otis, sea cucumbers are really cool and also really important to the environment!" "Yeah, are you thinking what I'm thinking?" "There you go little one, run free!" "Oh, I guess it's staying right here. That makes sense, I imagine a far journey would be cumbersome!"

Strategies to Determine the Main Idea in an Informational Text exercise

Would you like to apply the knowledge you’ve learnt? You can review and practice it with the tasks for the video Strategies to Determine the Main Idea in an Informational Text.
  • How do we find the main idea of a text?

    Hints

    Ask yourself what type of writing an informational text is. Are there plots and characters in these texts?

    There are 2 correct choices.

    Solution

    Correct Answers:

    • Find the pop out sentence of the text.
    • Identify the topic and main idea of the text.

  • Identify the topic, main points and main idea.

    Hints

    The important point 1 appears first in the text, and the important point 2 appears next.

    The topic of a text is who or what the text is about.

    The important points will explain more details about the topic subject, such as its size, shape and colour.

    Solution
    • The topic of this text is: sea cucumbers.
    • An important point about sea cucumbers is: sea cucumbers can be a wide variety of sizes, colours and shapes.
    • The second important point about sea cucumbers is: some grow to be less than one inch long, while others are as long as several feet.
    • Tthe main idea is: sea cucumbers are marine animals that can have many different characteristics.
  • Find the main idea of the text.

    Hints

    One strategy to identify the main idea is to first find who and what the paragraph is about.

    The answer to what (1) appears first in the text and the answer to what (2) appears next.

    Solution

    WHO

    • Sea cucumbers
    WHAT DO THEY DO? (1)
    • Loosen and improve the soil
    WHAT ELSE DO THEY DO? (2)
    • Enrich the water with important nutrients
    MAIN IDEA
    • Sea cucumbers play an important role in their ecosystem

  • Find the pop out sentence.

    Hints

    The pop-out sentence gives an overview or summary of what the rest of the text is about, in this case, the culture.

    The pop-out sentence is not always in the first line of the text.

    There are 2 connecting sentences to support the pop out sentence.

    Which sentences give further details about the art and history of the country? These are connecting sentences.

    Solution

    Pop out sentence/main idea:

    • Tuscany is very rich in culture, history and art and is truly exceptional.
    Connecting/Supporting sentences:
    • There are more art and history museums than any person could ever visit in a lifetime.
    • Many famous artists and writers were born in or lived in Tuscany and it is truly a historical gem.

  • Find the pop out sentence.

    Hints

    The pop-out sentence gives an overview or main idea of what the rest of the text is about.

    What is the main idea of this text? The pop-out sentence will introduce this.

    The pop-out sentence is not always in the first line of the text.

    The topic is sea cucumbers. Which sentence given an overview of sea cucumbers?

    Solution

    The pop out sentence of this text is:

    • Sea cucumbers are scavengers that feed on small food items on the sea floor.

  • Define the strategies and main idea.

    Hints

    The topic of a text is who or what the text is about.

    The main idea sentence gives an overview or summary of what the rest of the text is about.

    Ask yourself who is the text about? And what about them is so important or interesting?

    Solution
    • The topic of this text is octopuses.
    • The important points that describe this topic are octopuses can recognise individual people, octopuses have excellent vision, and an octopus can change its skin.
    • The main idea sentence of this text is an octopus’s abilities are amazing!