that an author communicates one big idea and gives details about it.
selection’s mostly about—the most important thing the author wants readers to
know. Other facts in the selection are details that support, or tell more
about, the main idea. Sometimes the main idea is stated directly.
useful plants. Most people think of it as the stuff that grows in the yard and
needs to be mowed, but there are thousands of different kinds. Wheat, rice, and
other grains are grasses that help people and animals exist!
is a useful plant. But sometimes you have to find the main idea yourself. To do
that, use information from the text to figure it out.
Leonardo da Vinci sketched a flying machine. He was also a scientist and
fascinated by movement. His sketch showed a screw-like wing made of stiff
linen. He never got it off the ground, but a real helicopter like it flew
almost 500 years later!
da Vinci designed the first helicopter more than 500 years ago. That’s what the
author most wants you to remember.
supporting details are that wheat, rice, and other grains are useful grasses,
and people and animals need grasses. In the second example, details are the
year he drew the design, that it was a flying machine, what it looked like, and
when the first real helicopter flew. Each detail supports or expands on the
chapter or section may have its own main idea, but there’s just one central
idea for the whole selection. Sometimes the title can help you figure out the
main idea. And you may find that some details add interest but aren’t necessary
to finding the main idea, like the fact that da Vinci was fascinated by
movement, so they are not “supporting” details.
Main Idea and Supporting
Details Practice Exercises
Practice 1: A Musical Mouse
answer the questions that follow.
others like to swing from trees by their tails. And one kind, the white-footed
mouse, is not only a good swimmer and tree climber, but it’s also quite
long, with a tail of another 3 inches (7.5 cm). It weighs only about 0.8 ounces
(23 g). It’s been around North America for a long time; scientists have found
40- million-year-old fossils of the tiny creature’s ancestors!
mouse” because it lives in so many wooded areas throughout North America.
Other people call the white-footed mouse the “deer mouse.” One reason
is that its fur is the same colors as a deer’s—soft brown on its back; white on
its underside. Another reason is that the mice carry deer ticks that spread
that is warm and dry, like a hollow tree or empty bird’s nest. But most of the
time the whitefoot runs along the ground looking for food. It eats seeds, nuts,
leaves, bark, and insects. It sleeps by day and looks for food at night—its
long whiskers and big ears help it find its way in the dark.
it often makes a humming sound. And it taps its little paws very fast on a dead
leaf or hollow log to make a buzzing, drumming sound! Scientists aren’t sure
why the mouse is a drummer; it just is!
be a white-footed mouse nearby, and you wouldn’t want to interrupt a mouse in
the middle of its song . . . would you?
brown and white.
white-footed mouse taps its paws in a drumming sound.
North America are full of mice.
study the habits of mice.
white-footed mouse is also known as the wood mouse.
mouse may carry ticks that transmit a disease.
taps on a dead leaf or hollow log.
white-footed mouse isn’t very big.
Build a Better Mousetrap”
in the Woods”
Lyme Disease Ahead!”
white-footed mouse lives in Canada.
white-footed mouse is also called the wood or deer mouse.
white-footed mouse hums.
white-footed mouse is very small.
find the main idea of that paragraph?
inches (7.5 cm) long.
found 40-million-year-old fossils of its ancestors.
ounces (23 g).
about 8 inches (20 cm) long.
answer the questions that follow.
especially need the right fuel to keep their bodies going as they’re growing.
To help everyone figure out which foods supply the energy needed, the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) developed a new Food Guide Pyramid in 2005.
Look at the visual.
blocks like the ancient pyramids. Well, this new pyramid has six, tall,
vertical stripes instead. Each stripe represents one source of nutrition. There
are horizontal steps on the side of the pyramid, but they signify the need for
exercise as well as good food—30 minutes of exercise a day—to create a healthy
help meet the needs of each individual. Your food needs are based on your age,
if you’re a girl or boy, and how active you are. You can go to the USDA website
at http://mypyramid.gov to check out how much and which kinds of food you need.
needs 6 ounces a day from this group, which includes breads, cereals, rice, and
kid needs about cups a day from this
group, which includes dark green veggies, like spinach and broccoli, and bright
orange ones, like carrots.
needs about 2 cups of fresh, frozen,
canned, or dried fruit a day.
teaspoons of oil a day. Some have no cholesterol or are lower in fat than
others. Check food labels for information.
needs about 3 cups a day of milk, yogurt, or cheese.
nuts The average kid needs about 5 ounces a day from this group.
enough of each essential nutrient; a variety from all food groups; energy to
maintain a healthy weight; and no excess fat, sugar, or salt. Eating healthy
and exercising daily can help reduce the risk of getting diabetes, cancer, or
bone problems as you get older.
to exercise at least once a week.
source of vitamins.
to eat a variety of good foods and exercise for a healthy life.
important part of a healthy lifestyle.
sunscreen as protection from the sun’s harmful rays.
variety of things from the vegetable group.
a half-hour of exercise every day.
pick foods from one food group.
letter to Congress
recipes for wholesome, healthy foods that taste good
exactly which foods and how much that individual should eat
Needs of Prehistoric Humans
Habits of Senior Citizens
about Work Routines
choose a variety of foods.
people have heart problems.
and exercising now can reduce health risks in the future.
enough sleep is important to good health.
answer the questions that follow.
daily to listen to the news and more. In the 1930s and 1940s, mystery shows,
like Sam Spade and The Shadow, were favorites with young and old alike. Every
week people tuned in to hear the top tunes on Your Hit Parade. And on Sunday
mornings, radio stars read the comics aloud to kids.
started on radio. Do you know why they were called “soap operas”?
Most shows were sponsored by soap companies and, because characters had many
problems, people said the stories were like operas, most of which don’t have
required people to use their imaginations. So, as a sportscaster described the
action, people had to imagine “he hits a pop fly high into the infield,
the shortstop moves in . . . reaches . . . grabs it . . . throws to second . .
. and he’s out!” Not only did they picture it, many people cheered as if
they were right there in the stadium!
started on TV.
was TV, people listened to the radio a lot.
operas don’t end happily.
were played on the radio.
read the comics.
cheered as if they were at the stadium.
pictures to show the action.
was not in many American homes until the 1950s.
not have a radio.
home has two or more TVs.
radios were important during the war.