Your third, fourth and 5th grade students can find the main idea using grade appropriate activity. When author's write they add many details in order to make their writing interesting. Student's need to be able to determine if a detail contributes to an authors message or if they included the information for interest.
I wrote 12 original paragraphs with many details. Students will read the paragraph and use the graphic organizer to write the main idea and details. This product works great for small group and as a test prep. I have used this product in my classroom over several weeks to help review for major tests.
I usually tell students, if an author mentions something 3 or more times, this is the main idea. You will notice on the cover page, students can highlight the 3 details that help support the main idea.
You can use this activity as a model for whole group. Students can then complete independently, you can use in centers or a small group setting. I have also printed these cards on card stock and put in sheet protectors. Student's can use a dry erase or vis a vis marker to underline or box in details that lead to the main ideas.
I hope you enjoy the activity!