Theme is a TOUGH concept to teach students! One of my favorite moments is when I see a kiddo finally understand how to analyze theme because I know it takes a long time to get there!
Today, I wanted to share with you some of the things I do to teach theme!
Theme is Not a Word
I truly believe that theme cannot just be one word. I teach my students that theme is like “family makes us stronger” or “teamwork helps you succeed”. I think that theme is more than just friendship, etc. and teaching our kids that makes it harder for them to really dig deep into the theme and analyzing the text.
This is my FAVORITE lesson when it comes to theme! The students interview their parents to look at something that was really hard within their life. Then, they use that interview to determine THE MESSAGE that the hardship taught them. We use this to create a list of different themes that might come up!
Read Great Books
We read a lot of picture books when analyzing theme. Seeing examples is the only true way to understand it.
Click on the affiliate picture below for all of the books that we read throughout the theme unit.
There is an amazing youtube video that shows 10 different movies and their themes. We stop at each movie and discuss the theme and then discuss how we can apply that theme in real life! I also like them to try and think of other books they have seen this theme in!
Teach the Difference Between Theme and Main Idea
This is TOUGH. Kids are constantly confusing the theme with the main idea. I spend a whole day just teaching the difference. Suggestions for teaching this would be…
- Watch a PIXAR short and decide what the main idea is and then what the theme is.
- Read any picture book (we do The Hundred Dresses) and compare and contrast the theme and the main idea.
- Have your students write their own story with a different main idea and theme so they truly get the understanding of the difference.
- Use an anchor chart!
- Play main idea and theme matching!
- Look at many pictures to analyze a theme and see how it relates to real life.
- Look at theme cards and apply them to real life.
- Read many short stories and analyze the theme.
- Use EPIC to read a story and analyze the theme.
- Have students pick a theme out of a hat and then write their own story with that theme.
You can grab all of these activities already prepped and planned for you! All you have to do is print and go!