15 Anchor Charts to Teach Main Idea


Main idea is an essential component of reading comprehension, and mastering this skill helps students better understand and retain information they read. Using anchor charts can be an effective teaching tool to aid in the understanding of main ideas and supporting details. In this article, we’ll explore 15 anchor charts designed to teach students the concept of main idea effectively.

1. Main Idea Umbrella:

This anchor chart represents main ideas as an umbrella sheltering key details as raindrops, emphasizing that details support the main idea.

2. Main Idea Table:

Presenting main ideas as tabletops with legs for supporting details, this chart stresses the need for strong details to uphold the central point.

3. Main Idea Tree:

A tree with branches for each detail helps students visualize how individual pieces of information come together to form a cohesive main idea.

4. Main Idea House:

Showcasing a house built on strong foundations of supporting details, this metaphor encourages students to find reliable evidence for their statements.

5. Main Idea Ice Cream Cone:

Using a delicious ice cream analogy, this chart demonstrates how chunks of detail fill in the cone (main idea) to create a pleasing concept.

6. Pizza Slice Main Idea:

Divided into sections like pizza slices, this chart shows that each detail adds flavor and depth to the main idea, which forms the crust base.

7. Question-based Main Idea Chart:

Using guiding questions such as “What is the topic?”, “What is significant about it?”, and “Why should we care?”, students can easily identify the main idea.

8. Hamburger Model Main Idea:

Modeling text structure like a hamburger – with introduction and conclusion buns and a meaty middle – helps students grasp the importance of well-structured ideas.

9. Paragraph-style Main Idea Chart:

A paragraph format anchor chart encourages students to write concise summaries by narrowing down topics, subtopics, and key details.

10. Main Idea Detective:

Implementing a detective theme, this chart inspires students to search for clues to uncover and support main ideas.

11. Main Idea Time Machine:

Organizing information chronologically underlines the cause-and-effect relationships that strengthen the main idea.

12. Movie Poster Main Idea:

Similar to a movie poster’s catchy tagline, this chart prompts students to create compelling summaries of texts to capture the essence of their main idea.

13. Main Idea Ladder:

Climbing up the rungs of detail collection, this ladder metaphor highlights the importance of building strong foundations before identifying the main idea.

14. Flower Pot Main Idea:

Using a flowering plant as an analogy, this chart shows how nurturing individual details helps a strong main idea grow and flourish.

15. Main Idea Equation:

By clarifying that the main idea equals topic plus detail, this anchor chart simplifies an abstract concept into a simple calculation for students.


Anchor charts offer creative ways to illustrate crucial reading concepts like main ideas to students in visual and memorable forms. By employing a variety of metaphors and styles, these 15 anchor charts offer engaging strategies for teaching how to identify, understand, and remember main ideas in a text.