Teaching theme is often a difficult concept for students to learn. The reason it is so difficult is because theme is objective, many people can see different themes throughout the same story. But that is okay and something I teach my students! As long as you can explain where you see that theme throughout the story you are good to go!
Want to first understand how to exactly teach any reading skill? Head to this blog post!
Want to make theme easy for kids to understand and remember? Teach them that it is THEMEssage! Seriously, kids remember simple things like that!
The message is a short line that explains what lesson the author wants you to learn throughout the story.
Teaching Theme vs. Main Idea
Teaching students the difference between theme and main idea is essential. It is hard for them to see the difference between them if you don’t explicitly show them.
How do you do this?
Show them explicitly through anchor charts on theme vs. main idea and then have them practice. Read a mentor text and look at the theme and the main idea.
Showing students the difference between these two things will help them truly understand what theme is.
Teaching Theme by Relating it to Student’s Lives
Theme is in their lives EVERY SINGLE DAY. If you relate this to their actual lives, they will have a better understanding and memory of theme in literature.
One easy way to do this is by interviewing. Have students interview family members for homework. Then, use that interview to look at themes that played throughout their family members’ lives.
This allows students to get to know their family more, understand theme, and brings a home/school connection into the mix.
Teaching Theme in Disney Movies
Every kid knows and loves Disney movies and almost every single one has a theme in them!
This is a great YouTube video that you can watch to look at some themes in Disney movies. Then, you can have students come up with their own.
Theme in Read Alouds
“Zero” by Kathryn Otoshi
I have three read alouds I always use when teaching theme!
With this one, I simply read and show students how to find and analyze the theme.
“Ida, Always” by Caron Levis
For this read aloud, we analyze and draw the theme. Then, we look at what would happen if events changed in the story and how that would affect the theme.
“Love” by Matt de la Pena
Students make a love poster that shows the theme and proof of the theme throughout the story!
All fables have strong themes inside of them! Fables are a great way to get students to analyze theme!
Watch this video explaining Aesop’s fables. Then, listen to a few fables as a class and discuss and analyze the theme.
Use storynory.com and have students pick fables to read in groups. Then, they can create posters that show the class that theme.
The Whole Week Planned for You
Do you want full lesson plans to teach theme? These plans have whole group and small group lessons for the entire week! They are engaging and low prep!