Teaching Main Idea in Speech Therapy

Do you have students with goals that you are unsure how to target in a different way so that they can finally grasp it and make progress?


Today I’m talking all about working on main idea. Many of our students need to be able to work on higher level thinking skills when it comes to their language comprehension to be an effective reader and to show success in their classrooms. One skill or concept that their teachers are expecting them to do is to be able to express the main idea or the theme in their own words.

When it comes to main idea, I like to make it really explicit for my students so they know exactly what to do and it takes the cognitive overload away from them.


I like to use Jamboard to introduce these concepts. You can easily import any picture from google images and then make a sentence strip and your students can easily fill in the blanks and you can easily scaffold it. Over time you then fade out the prompting and the scaffolding and have them do it on their own.

In this example I have a picture and a sentence strip that says “This picture is about__________ that is ________ .

So then I ask them questions like:

  • Who is the picture about and what are they doing.
  • Does it matter that there's trees in the background ?
  • Does it matter that they're wearing jackets?

Then we go through those details and determine if they are supporting the main idea or not.

Giving them that framework of who is it about and what happened to them will really help your students hone in on what is expected of them and how to be successful. Once they can do it on their own, then you can move on to doing the same thing with a passage.

I like to show them some sample read works articles or News ELA articles and ask things like, hey did you see the type of question?

– what's it all about

– the central idea

– what is it mostly about or mainly about

When they can pick out that type of question then they will know to look for who is it about and what did they do.

Then if you're working at the paragraph level, you can do different task cards, play jeopardy labs, do a bamboozle, and all kinds of different free websites and use the same strategy format. I teach my students that I might read it twice and the first time I want you to listen for who was it about and the second time listen for what are they doing or what's happening.

A lot of times we might need to take a step back and teach our students how to put those details together.


I hope you found this helpful and if you are tired of searching for age appropriate resources for your older students so that you can easily work on things like main idea without all the guess work, then you should definitely check out my membership SLP Elevate!