There are many comprehension strategies that good readers use to help them understand what they read. One of these comprehension skills is the ability to determine the author’s purpose for writing. When students are able to analyze and vocalize the author’s reason for writing they are much more likely to understand the text.
The ability to figure out the main idea is another reading skill needed to make sense of a story. Students need to be able to pick out the primary message of the story. They use the details of the story to support or prove that the main idea they have come up with is correct.
Primary teachers of third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students can use the story Halloween by Jerry Seinfeld [Little, Brown and Company, 2002] to teach author’s purpose and main idea.
Author’s Purpose and Main Idea Lesson Objectives
- Students will identity the author’s purpose for writing a story.
- Students will identify the main idea of the story and list four details that support or prove that main idea.
Author’s Purpose and Main Idea Lesson Materials
- Halloween by Jerry Seinfeld
- Art supplies
- Halloween candy and candy wrappers
How to Teach Author’s Purpose to Elementary Students
The teacher shows the book Halloween by Jerry Seinfeld to the students and asks them to use the pictures to predict what they think the main idea of the book will be. The teacher will then ask the students to share their experiences with choosing Halloween costumes and trick-or-treating.
The teacher will read the story to the students, modeling fluency and expression while reading. The class will discuss who Jerry Seinfeld is and why they think he wrote this book. The teacher will guide the class to determine that he wrote the story to entertain his audience with his Halloween experience as a kid.
How to Teach Main Idea to Elementary Students
The teacher will then review the story with the students by again showing them the pictures and reading their main idea prediction aloud. The class will discuss whether the prediction was accurate.
They will then determine the main idea of the story by listing the main events in the story and coming up with a sentence that describes all of the events. The students will then check the accuracy of their main idea by listing four story details that support or prove the main idea.
Halloween Costume Candy Collage Writing Activity
The students will then write a narrative composition detailing a similar costume or trick-or-treating experience. The students will then use candy or candy wrappers and classroom art supplies to create a collage that illustrates their story.
Teachers can turn a Halloween book and activity into a valuable comprehension lesson. After capturing students’ attention with Jerry Seinfeld’s Halloween teachers can teach how to find the author’s purpose for writing and the main idea of the story. When students utilize these reading skills their reading comprehension is greatly increased.