School Improvement in Maryland

Using the State Curriculum: Reading/ELA, Grade 2

Reading/ELA | Informational | Literary | Writing | Language | Listening | Speaking

Lesson Seeds: The lesson seeds are ideas for the indicator/objective that can be used to build a lesson. Lesson seeds are not meant to be all-inclusive, nor are they substitutes for instruction.

Standard 3.0 Comprehension of Literary Text

Indicator 6. Determine important ideas and messages in literary texts

Objective a. Recognize the main idea or message of the text


Show students an enlarged photograph which has details from which a main idea can be recognized, such as the picture below. Many websites contain public domain photographs. This picture is from Ask students to help you list the items that they see in the picture and compile their observations on a chart like the one below. After listing the details, introduce the concept of main idea. The main idea of the picture would be what most of the picture is about. The main idea of this picture is a breakfast meal in a restaurant. Review the details that support the main idea.

Details from the picture Big idea (Main idea) of the picture
Example one (above) Fried eggs, English muffin, hash browns, ham, water, cup of coffee, sauces, creamer, jellies, knife, plates, table top A breakfast meal in a restaurant
Example two (below) people sitting on outdoor furniture, some people sitting at table, pine trees and umbrella, mountains in background, man with cowboy hat holding blanket, table full of gifts, fence People are having an outdoor celebration/party

Display or give pairs of students another picture, such as the picture below. Have them write down the details in the picture. See chart above.


Next read a text to students, such as Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman, without revealing the title of the book. After reading, ask students to tell their neighbor/partner what the story was mainly about (many animals come to visit the den of a sleeping hibernating bear but he doesn’t wake up). Explain to students that authors often tell the main idea when they choose a title for their stories. Reveal the title of the book to the students to determine if the author gives us the main idea of the story in the title. In the example text the author does.


Explain that many times in a literary text the “big idea” is an author’s message. For primary students we can most easily express this by saying that the author’s message is the lesson learned. Explain that in most stories the message is not directly stated. We think about the characters and events in the story and our own life experiences and recognize a lesson or message that the author was trying to deliver. For example read the text Stellaluna by Janell Cannon. After reading and discussing the story, explain to the students that one message that the author gives us in this story is that people who are different can still be friends. The author also tells us that we shouldn’t try to change to be like someone else. Explain that after we read a text we may want to think about the author’s message. We ask ourselves if there was a hidden message about life in the story. Continue to help children recognize author’s message by examining read aloud, shared reading, guided reading, and independent reading books. Provide multiple theme statements and have students choose an appropriate theme statement for the text.