Teaching Reading and Writing with Mentor Texts: Main Idea



Are you looking for an easy way to teach main idea?  Check out this mentor text with a free printable!  This example uses the story of Ivan but the printable can be used with any book!  There is also a digital resource featured as well as links to other comprehension topics.
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Thank you so much for stopping by!  I always love to share some great resources and mentor texts!

Book Summary

The title of the book is a very accurate summary!  The award-winning book Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla is based on the real-life events of  Ivan the Gorilla who was taken from the wild and brought to a mall in Washington State where he spent most of his life.


Lesson Intro

There were a few topics that were important to go over before we could dive into the text.


Are you looking for an easy way to teach main idea?  Check out this mentor text with a free printable!  This example uses the story of Ivan but the printable can be used with any book!  There is also a digital resource featured as well as links to other comprehension topics.
First, we talked about main idea.  It can be a tricky topic to teach but this anchor chart provides a great visual to help students understand.  (I have included a template that can be used for your anchor chart.You can just project it and trace it)

Next, we went to the website PebbleGo and read about Gorillas.  There was a lot of great information and it helped set the stage for students to read the book about Ivan.

When we looked at the cover, we also had to take a moment to discuss that even though the book had illustrations, it was a true story about a Gorilla. It was also an odd concept for students (and myself) to understand that at one time there was a shopping mall that had a wild animal living in it.

How to Use this Resource

There are a variety of ways this resource can be used, depending on the grade that you use it with.  I used this particular chart with primary students.  After I read the book, we brainstormed some big ideas/main ideas about Ivan.  One student said that Ivan was not like other gorillas, and we went with that!

Are you looking for an easy way to teach main idea?  Check out this mentor text with a free printable!  This example uses the story of Ivan but the printable can be used with any book!  There is also a digital resource featured as well as links to other comprehension topics.

We pulled up the digital version and got to work.  We brainstormed some supporting details on the chart.  Then students independently filled in their own supporting details using a paper/pencil chart.

Are you looking for an easy way to teach main idea?  Check out this mentor text with a free printable!  This example uses the story of Ivan but the printable can be used with any book!  There is also a digital resource featured as well as links to other comprehension topics.

Extension Activities 

In this video, the author, Katherine Applegate, talks to Ivan’s zookeeper, Jody Carrigan

This is the publisher's website that includes an incredible book trailer and a video from the author.

If you do not have a PebbleGo subscription, this National Geographic Kids link is a good source of information about Gorillas.

The author also wrote The One and Only Ivan, a chapter book that is a fictional story inspired by the real life of Ivan the Gorilla. This book was the inspiration for the non-fiction picture book Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla geared toward a younger audience.

Are you looking for an easy way to teach main idea?  Check out this mentor text with a free printable!  This example uses the story of Ivan but the printable can be used with any book!  There is also a digital resource featured as well as links to other comprehension topics.


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Are you looking for an easy way to teach main idea?  Check out this mentor text with a free printable!  This example uses the story of Ivan but the printable can be used with any book!  There is also a digital resource featured as well as links to other comprehension topics.