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Nonfiction: If I say it ten times, it’s probably IMPORTANT!

Yesterday, I shared a sample anchor chart to use for main idea. One of the tips to find main idea was to look for clues in repeated ideas. 

This is huge. If you think about how we find the main idea, we really have to consider repeated ideas as important. If an author takes the time to repeat, restate, or reference an idea over and over again, it’s a big one. It’s also important if there are many pieces of evidence/reasons/examples that connect to it. But this idea which makes sense to adults can be very abstract to little people.

Here’s a strategy to use to introduce finding main ideas. You take a song – I chose Octopus’s Garden. I’m not sure why. It was literally the first song that popped into my brain when I thought, “What song shall I use?” Here are the lyrics.
I’d like to be under the sea
In an octopus’ garden in the shade
He’d let us in, knows where we’ve been
In his octopus’ garden in the shade

I’d ask my friends to come and see
An octopus’ garden with me
I’d like to be under the sea
In an octopus’ garden in the shade.

We would be warm below the storm
In our little hideaway beneath the waves
Resting our head on the sea bed
In an octopus’ garden near a cave

We would sing and dance around
Because we know we can’t be found
I’d like to be under the sea
In an octopus’ garden in the shade

We would shout and swim about
The coral that lies beneath the waves
(Lies beneath the ocean waves)
Oh what joy for every girl and boy
Knowing they’re happy and they’re safe
(Happy and they’re safe)

We would be so happy you and me
No one there to tell us what to do
I’d like to be under the sea
In an octopus’ garden with you.

If you read through the song once, you get a general idea of what the song is about – An octopus’s garden. But to create a more complete main idea, you read closely and notice what’s repeated. In many songs, the chorus is repeated – it’s the repeated part of the song where we get the big ideas.  In this song, this is what is repeated: “I’d like to be under the sea in an octopus’ garden in the shade/with you.” It is specifically about the author’s feelings towards the octopus’s garden.
The repeated chorus gives us an idea of the main message/idea of the song. In addition to this, the other verses support the chorus, or main idea. Why does he want to be in an octopus’s garden? Several reasons.
1. No one there to tell us what to do.
2. Girls and boys know they’re happy and safe.
3. We’d be warm, below the storm.
The other verses support, or provide reasons/examples for the repeated main idea in the chorus. Nice, huh?

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